Facebook Instant Experience Ads: Complete Guide


You may have heard of an ad format called Canvas Ads.

That should have been a couple of years back. Because recently, Facebook decided to changes its name from Canvas ads to Instant Experience Ads. 

Nothing has changed though – it’s the same ad format, hugely unchanged from the initial release, save for a few bells and whistles.

What is Facebook Instant Experience Ads?

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Facebook Instant Experience Ads (previously Facebook Canvas Ads) is the ultimate ad type that will completely enthral your Facebook audience. 

They’re a full-screen experience that opens when a user interacts with your ad on a mobile device.

Up until 2018, these ads were referred to as Canvas Ads. And while many of its original functions and features remain pretty much the same, Instant experience ads improved upon them in a few notable ways like you’re going to find out.

What’s Different About Instant Experience Ads?

It’s no secret, Facebook Canvas Ads were special.

But Facebook Instant Experience Ads are a Different kind of special. Think of them as an incarnation of Canvas ads, but with a few significant changes. 

Core among them is the addition of Facebook Pixel, which comes automatically integrated into your Instant Experiences provided you’re already using Facebook Pixel on your site. 

It also comes with a few more ways to track and analyse your campaign. 

Better yet, it works with most formats, including images, carousels, videos, and slideshows. 

How Facebook Instant Experience Ads Work

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The ads appear as regular photo ads in the user’s feed.

But upon clicking on the ad, a mobile landing page will open, automatically expanding to a full-screen.

Ad Campaign Goals that Work well with Facebook Instant Experience Ads

Instant experience ads are 15 times faster than mobile web pages.

Here are a few ads campaign goals that work well with Facebook Instant Experience ads:

  • Video views
  • App downloads
  • Visits to your landing page
  • And more

They’re also easy to implement. Meaning, you can easily test whether or not they’re working for you through A/B testing. 

Why it Was Renamed?

Facebook must have had a good reason to rename these ads from Canvas to Instant Experience Ads.

And they didn’t just rename it. They added a few new functions, including:

  • The ability to embed pixels
  • Analytics functions
  • More design templates
  • Re-engagement capabilities
  • Ability to add pixels from third-party sources and A/B test them

These are no ordinary functions. But a string of new elements that work together to create an ideal mobile ad experience – one that will enthral your target audience. 

The Design Options

The first noticeable difference between Canva and Instant Experience Ads are the new design options. 

Before Instant Experience Ads, Facebook had already rolled out several dynamic ad templates that you could use to create your ads. These templates included:

  • Storytelling – focused on video
  • Instant Look book – Ideal for fashion and other e-commerce products
  • Instant storefront – mimicked the editorial design of a lifestyle magazine. 
  • Customer Acquisition – functioned as a mini-post-click landing page with a CTA button. 

More Design Templates

These are really good templates. They, however, couldn’t convert users without directing them to your mobile webpage — marred with longer load times, which often led to higher bounce rates.

Instant Forms

So, through Instant Experience Ads, Facebook was able to introduce Instant forms. These forms allow you to capture leads and gather their contact information without funnelling them away from Facebook. 

Easier Re-engagement

Instant Experience Ads made re-engagement a whole lot easier by bundling up with Facebook pixel.

By attaching pixels to your site, it becomes incredibly simple to re-engage users that interact with it. 

Track and Analyse Your Campaign

Instant experiences came with more ways to track and analyse your campaign. 

For instance, you can attach third-party pixels to your Instant Experience ads and measure your campaign success using an analytics tool of your choice. 

This is especially helpful when you’re comparing the results of two different ad campaigns, as it allows you to A/B test and optimise them at every stage of your sales funnel. 

The Pros and Cons of Facebook Instant Experience Ads

Facebook Instant Experience was first introduced in 2016, under the name Canvas. It would change its name in 2018 to Instant Experience. 

The renaming came with massive functionality improvements. You could tell Facebook worked really hard to fix the weaknesses previously witnessed in Canvas ads. 

The Pros

They’re faster

In this 2017 Google search report, it was stated that it took a mobile post-click landing page about 22 seconds to fully load.

However, it’s been found that 53% of your site visitors are likely to abandon your webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. 

Then came Instant Experience ads, which by Facebook’s own account, loads 15 times faster than standard mobile webpages. 

People view these Ads for Longer

When Instant Experience Ads first debuted (while using the name Canvas), it was revealed that 53% of users at least viewed half of the ads. 

The average viewing time for the ads was 31 seconds, with top-performing ads clocking over 70 seconds.
So, not only will users see these ads, but they’re also more likely to stick around for longer. 

You can Convert Users within the Facebook App

Before Facebook rebranded this ad format, if you wanted to collect your visitors’ contact information, then you had to funnel them outside the app to a mobile post-click landing page.  

That meant one more step in the customer conversion process.  

But thanks to the Instant Experience form templates, you can collect your visitors’ contact details or any other information without directing your users’ away from the Facebook app. 

The Cons

Still Not Possible to Make Purchases in the Instant Experience Ads

Facebook has yet to integrate a payment system into the ads. You can only collect your visitors’ contact details, but to get them to purchase your products or services, then you’ll have to direct them to a post-click mobile page. 

You Have to be a Good Designer 

These ads you create will only be as good as the designer you choose.

The design process isn’t as simple as choosing a template and plugging in your ad details. There’s a lot of customization to be done and more room for design errors – such as using low-resolution imagery or adding an excessive amount of copy. 

What Industries Could Benefit the Most from Facebook Instant Experience Ads?

After digging through a list of Facebook’s success stories, it’s pretty clear that Instant Experience ads work with just about any industry – e-commerce, real estate, or recruiting. 

Here are a few of the success stories I have read about the ads: 

P.F. Changs

P.F Changs is a classic example of how online ads aren’t restricted to online businesses. They have demonstrated that Instant Experience Ads work for brick-and-mortar companies as well.

The restaurant chain has integrated its instant experience ads with an interactive map that displays nearby locations. 

On the map, you can click on a location and press go. It seems that the restaurant chain has decided to promote this feature through Facebook and let it take over from there.

The bottom line is that Instant Experience ads work for restaurants as well (and probably any brick-and-mortar business).


Here is another example of a B2C company that has used Instant Experience ads to draw in new customers. ProFlowers’ ad was featured on Facebook’s success stories page and have seen great success using the platform.

In their case, they have placed an interactive map that displays nearby florists.

When you click on a nearby florist, you’ll be redirected to their website.

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The map they have created takes advantage of Facebook’s new feature that allows users to “Favourite” pages and get notifications when updates are posted. The interactive map was very effective in attracting new customers because they were able to display locations within close proximity to their target audience.

The bottom line is that Instant Experience ads work for florists as well (and probably any brick-and-mortar business).

Doyle Salewski Sotheby’s International Realty

Since the real estate industry is very competitive, it can be difficult for companies to find a way to cut through all the noise. 

Doyle Salewski Sotheby’s International Realty found a great way to stand out from the rest of the crowd and drive traffic to their website by using Instant Experience Ads – they created an interactive map that displays all nearby real estate listings. 

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When you click on any listing, it takes you to an information page.

Here’s what they had to say about their success with Facebook Instant Experience ads: “The experience has been a great way for buyers and sellers to find us, but more importantly, it is the perfect vehicle for our website traffic. We’ve seen an increase in site visits of up to 20%.” 

The bottom line is that Instant Experience ads work for realtors as well (and probably any brick-and-mortar business).


Online recruiting can be an extremely competitive market, which makes it difficult to stand out. To cut through all the noise, Digital-DNA created an interactive map displaying nearby employers. 

When you click on a particular employer, you’ll be redirected to their website. 

Digital-DNA has found success by allowing users to find nearby job opportunities (similar to the previous two case studies). Since they have displayed an interactive map, people might actually prefer this method of finding employers instead of manually typing in search queries into the Facebook search box.

The bottom line is that Instant Experience ads work for recruiting companies as well (and probably any brick-and-mortar business).

You have different types of Instant Experience ads to choose from. You can promote your app, website or landing page in an Instant Experience ad. Here are the different types of ads you can use: 

Instant Storefront AdCreate a beautiful store on Facebook to showcase your products. Spread across multiple images, videos and descriptions, these ads provide a way for you to highlight what your business sells, the services offered, and contact information.

Instant App Landing Page Ad – Introduce your business with a detailed page about your app, including an image of it along with a description and your contact details. This is perfect for businesses that have recently launched new applications. They can highlight the features and benefits of the app to those who visit their page.

Instant Website Ad – Create a website where you can talk more about your business and help get your message out. This ad lets you provide an image of your site, description, and contact information. You can use the ad to promote both desktop and mobile websites.

Instant Video Ad – Show a video on your Facebook page that provides additional context about your business with a call-to-action for viewers to learn more about it or visit a website. Use this if you have a video that tells the story of your business and engages viewers on Facebook.

Instant App Event Ad – Drawing on in-app activity, these ads let you promote events through Facebook showing videos or images along with descriptions to help achieve targeted advertising goals. They are especially useful for promoting events like concerts or conferences.

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Instant Landing Page Event Ad – Use these ads to promote events like concerts or conferences. They show videos and images along with a description to help promote your event. You can then include the link to buy tickets on the landing page of Facebook.

Instant Product Catalogue Ad – It’s used by businesses that sell physical goods. It shows your products in catalogues as well as on single product pages.

Instant Request AdYou can contact customers who have visited your business website or landing page, and gather additional information from them to be notified about offers, events or new services. When the user fills out the form, you will receive an email notification containing the details supplied by your contact. Using these instant requests, you can then follow up with potential customers to convert them into a sale.

Instant App Review Ad – You can ask users who have already installed or used your app to review it and post their opinions on Facebook through this ad type. Users receive an email notification as soon as someone wants to review their app.

Instant App Install Ad – Use this ad type to bring users to install your mobile app on Facebook. You can create an instant product catalogue and then promote it through app installs right from your Facebook page or profile, featuring images of products along with the description and price.

These ads are available in different types and goals. Here are some of the ad types available for instant ads:

Instant App Event Ad- It is best used when you want to organize in-app events or create awareness about your products with the help of Facebook’s social features. With this, you can promote events that are supported by Facebook and potentially reach more users. 

Facebook Instant Experience Ads Specifications: Cheat Sheet

Image size

Full width => 1080p

Full height => 1920p

Use tilt-to-pan and tap-to-expand options to use wider and taller images

Accepted formats png, jpg, jpeg, and video files

Unlimited captions allowed per ad, but only one call-to-action per ad

You’re allowed to upload up to 20 images

When you add more than 2 images the ad will look like a carousel ad. However, they’ll be nothing more than linked images, and not exactly carousel ads. 

Video Size

Minimum resolution => 720p

website design banner

Portrait orientation. We suggest you don’t make your videos full screen.

Also, try not to make the collective runtime of your videos exceed 2 minutes. However, Facebook still allows you to run longer videos. 

Accepted video formats => MP4 and .mov file

Text blocks

You’re allowed to add multiple text blocks. You, however, have to make sure that each text block doesn’t exceed 500 characters.

Recommended font face: San Serif, Serif

Recommended font-size: 6 – 72pt

Font colour: #rrggbb

Font style: Bold, italic or underline. Try to apply to a whole block rather than on the individual word

Alignment: Left, right or centre


Your Instant Experience ad must have one or more CTA buttons.

Buttons must appear colourful or at least outlined with a background colour.

We recommend using a colour-filled button for your primary CTA and an outlined one for secondary CTA. 

Button height = > 48px

Button text => 30 characters max. Make sure your text fits in one line and is truncated on a low-resolution screen.

Font colour => optional

Font face => San Serif, Serif

Padding = > 48px top and bottom

Button outline: optional

Facebook Instant Experience Ads: Best Practices

Here are some pointers on how to make the most of your Facebook instant experience ads: 

#1 Target audience

As people are interacting with newsfeed content – they don’t want to be hit by an ad. So, Facebook has introduced a few targeting options for this new ad format. You can target people who recently shared a similar post, have been tagged in a certain post or have shared your competitor’s pages and posts.

#2 Call to action buttons

Facebook has made it possible for you to include up to 3 call-to-action buttons with instant experience ads. With this, your target audience can see an ad that encourages engagement.  You can choose a CTA such as “Shop Now” or any other action (such as Reservations or Contact Us).

#3 Create a visually engaging ad

You should create ads that are interesting to look at and makes viewers want to click and engage.  Keep in mind that people who see these ads will want to know what’s going on and take some kind of action (i.e. sign up for your newsletter, etc.).

#4 Put your best content forward

You can include images and text in an instant experience ad. Make sure that all the imagery you use is high-quality and looks great on people’s screens.  Try to create attention-grabbing visuals that will make people want to click on the ad and learn more about your brand.  If you want to include text, make sure it’s succinct and appealing enough to grab people’s attention.

#5 Current events and popular topics

Facebook has announced that Instant Experience ads are a new ad format for the platform. This means Facebook users will be more receptive to seeing these ads because they know that they can learn more about the topic right away.  Because of this, you might want to include current events in your ads or even popular topics on Facebook. It’s the only way to make your ads relevant and interesting to the people who see them. 

How to Create a Facebook Instant Experience Ads

There are two ways to create a Facebook Instant experience ad: i.) through your page and ii) via ads manager. 

In this guide, we’ll be showing you how to create it via ads manager:

Business Activities - Meaning, Types and Examples

Step 1: Head over to Ads Manager and click on “Create Ad.”

Step 2: Choose your campaign objective from the options provided. Make sure the objective supports your instant experience, such as Conversion or Traffic. Click on Continue. 

Step 3: Name Your Campaign and click next.

Step 4: Name Your Ad Set

Remember that you can run several ads under a single campaign. Therefore, you need to come up with a name for each ad set you run.

After that, you want to scroll down and choose your ad audience, daily placement, schedule, and budget. 

In the ad placement section, we’d suggest you choose “automatic placement.”

Click “Continue” once you’re done with everything. 

Step 5: Select Your Preferred Ad Format from the Options Provided. 

Scroll down to the section for choosing your preferred ad format — Single Image, Video, Carousel, or Collection. 

Now, check the “Add an Instant Experience” box. Proceed to choose a template from the options provided:

Choose between the three templates provided. 

You also have an option to build a customised template if you’re an experienced user.

Now go ahead and add your images, text, and video (or components as they’re referred to). 

You’re also allowed to add linked buttons and lead capture forms.


Just go through the pop-up form and fill in all the relevant information as you preview them and make necessary adjustments.

Note that you can upload up to 10 images.

Once done, save it and then proceed to the final stage of publishing your ad.

Facebook Instant Experience Ads Objectives to Create

You have eight ad objectives to choose from:

1# App Installs: 

Send people to the app store to download and install your app.  

For this objective, you must create an app install ad, using your mobile app as a destination. 

Targeting: Can target people in the following ways: by age and location, gender or interests

2# App Engagement (Formerly Page Post): 

Send users to specific posts on your Facebook page or website. 

You can target people who have already engaged with your content or brand but haven’t necessarily converted (installed, purchased, ordered) 

Targeting: This can be targeted in the same way as app install ads.

3# Video Views: 

Send users to watch a video you posted. The audience is similar to reach and frequency audiences.

The objective is based on the number of people who watch the video. 

Targeting: Can be targeted by age, location or interests.

4# Link Clicks (Formerly Web Visits):  Send users directly to your website from Facebook. The audience is similar to reach and frequency audiences. 

The objective is based on the number of people who click links leading to your website. 

Targeting: Can be targeted by age, location or interests.

5# Audience Engagement (Formerly Website Conversions): Send users to specific pages that already have content posted on them. Similar audience targeting as App Installs and Link Clicks.

6# Page Post Engagement (Formerly Page Post): Send users to engage with certain Facebook posts that you’ve already created. Similar audience targeting as App Installs and Link Clicks.

7# Mobile App Installs: Send people to the app stores to download and install your mobile app.   

Targeting: Can target by age, location or interests.

8# App Engagement (Formerly Mobile App Installs): Send people to specific posts on your Facebook page. 

Targeting: Can be targeted in the same way as app install ads.

Key differences between Video Views and Page Post Engagement are that you can’t make a Page Post Engagement ad with video content, and you can’t change the targeting for Video Views (it has to be set when creating the campaign).

For Link Clicks, Audience Engagement and Mobile App Install objectives, you choose whether you want to optimize based on reach and frequency or conversions.

Who Should Use Instant Experience Ads?

Instant Experience Ads are best for advertisers looking to generate quick purchases. Best used with Fashion, Consumer Electronics, and Apparel & Footwear industries.

Why Use Instant Experience Ads?

Create a seamless experience from Facebook to your mobile site without redirects or app downloads.  You can set up these ads in minutes and start driving sales immediately.

When not to Use Instant Experience Ads

The only time you wouldn’t want to use instant experience ads is if the majority of your business’s activities require a lengthy scroll-through.

If that were to be the case, it would not be effective for users who needed more information but didn’t necessarily have time to read through everything. Or perhaps they simply wanted a brief overview of what the business had to offer. For example, if you were a photography studio that allows clients to submit photos for photoshoots via Instagram, your potential customers might not have the time or energy to wait for their photo previews to load as they scroll through your website.

For this reason, you would want them to see what they’re getting into right away.

Instant Experience Ads Work Best with: 

Since these ads are suited for businesses that need to get their point across quickly, they’re particularly useful when you have a lot of great images to showcase your products, services or industry expertise. If you run an art gallery with lots of visually striking paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance period, users will be able to see for themselves how beautiful they look right from the start.

In addition to having great images, you should also have a distinguishing brand. This will make your company easier for users to remember when they’re shopping around for whatever it is that you sell.

Keep in mind that ads like this work best with companies that already have a following. If you’re a new small business, it might not be the right time to start using these ads because your potential customers may not yet have heard of you; but if you already have a few fans who love what you do, this ad type is perfect for letting them know that they can get more information about your products or services with just one click.

How to Choose the Right Images for Instant Experience Ads

As you’re picking out which images you’ll use in your Facebook experience ads, make sure each image clearly shows what users will be getting when they choose your business. If you’re a freelance photographer, a picture of someone’s headshot or wedding photo is not going to send the right message, as your potential customers are probably looking for something that showcases your landscape or underwater photography.

If you’re a restaurant, make sure each of the images on your Facebook ad shows different types of foods and drinks that users can sample at your business.

Facebook’s own tips for using Instant Experience ads:

Tell your story with a beautiful image and text. You can use a photo or illustration to create an immersive experience for people looking at Instant Experience ads in News Feed, on mobile devices, and through Power Editor.

Create compelling ad copy that’s unique to your business. You can use text, up to two call-to-action buttons, and a photo or illustration to create an immersive experience for people looking at Instant Experience ads in News Feed on the web and in mobile apps. For example, let them learn more about a product or download an app.

Use the image format that works best for your ads. We’ll display your photo or illustration in either a zoomable canvas or a lightbox, depending on device and location. To create an immersive experience with high-quality images, use the photo format. To make it easy to take action from within the ad, use the lightbox format.

Create compelling landing pages with a unique copy. We’ll link to your landing page from your ad and deliver people directly into an immersive experience when they click on your ad. Use a one-column design that takes up the entire screen to create an immersive experience for people looking at Instant Experience ads in News Feed. Your landing page should have the same look and feel like your ad to make it easy for people to take action.

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So, that is it, folks. Hope you found this blog post useful, and I hope you will try out Facebook Instant Experience ads.

The sooner you jump on board the better.

Do share your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading guys.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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