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February 20, 2017

In 2016, Facebook launched the carousel ad format for mobile devices. The carousel ad format proved successful on desktop a year prior, leaving marketers excited to test the new ad format on mobile. Carousels allow marketers to display multiple pieces of content and link to the products shown. At Bamboo, we have tested carousel ads in several industries with various audiences and carousel models. These are some of our key takeaways from our experience with distributing carousel ads.

We hope that by understanding the where, what and why of carousels, you will see more success in your ad campaigns!


Where Should I Push Carousel Ads?

Across all our clients, we found that Facebook carousels saw 18% lower CPIs and 75% higher CTRs than Instagram carousels. As a result, majority of our client’s experimenting with carousels saw the most success on Facebook.

The theory behind Facebook’s success lies in its innately better format. Carousels on Facebook are easily identifiable, with viewers seeing the multiple panels without having to swipe or click.
Instagram does not show the content like Facebook does, but only indicates the carousel format with the three dots beneath the ad or possible a CTA in the copy. Recently, Instagram launched a beta campaign testing a new carousel indicator. We think the purpose of this test is to further engage users with carousels on Instagram.

Here is an example of the original Instagram carousel format and new format Instagram is testing:

In addition to Facebook being the dominant delivery location, iOS campaigns drove 14% lower CPIs than Android campaigns.


What Types of Carousels Should I Focus On?

We categorize carousel models by their objective. A few examples of our carousels are product carousels, story carousels and carousels that highlight specific features. Choose whichever model fits best with your product and create from there.

Here are some examples of each carousel type:

Product Carousel

Story Carousel
Carousel Highlighting Specific Features

We saw product carousels driving the best results with 38% higher CTRs and 123% lower CPIs than story carousels. The next most success we saw was story carousels resulting in 43% higher CTRs and 164% lower CPIs than carousels highlighting specific features. (Disclaimer: product carousels accounted for 67% of our sample, followed by story carousels at 23%).


Why Should I Push Carousel Ads?

Carousels provide a platform to display multiple ads (photo or video) for viewing in one central location. Showing multiple visuals in succession can better accent products, highlight features or convey a story.

In comparing carousel ads and static image ads, we found that carousel ads tend to drive higher CTRs. For example, one of our client’s saw 45% lower CPIs and 38% higher CTRs on carousel ads than still image ads on Mobile News Feed + Facebook Audience Network (FAN).

Another one of our clients saw 18% higher CTRs but 24% higher CPIs on Facebook carousel ads compared to static image ads.

Now that we have covered some benefits and best practices of carousel ads, let’s explore some of the downfalls.


What Are The Downfalls To Carousels?

There isn’t one universal creative the produces maximum results across platforms and clients. Carousel ads require more work to build, which results in inconsistency and unpredictability among clients. We think this inconsistency stems from carousels more complex platform that requires more assets, hence why more established brands with a bigger product catalog see more success.
There is a minimum of three image and text requirements to create a carousel, opposed to static image ads which only require a single image and copy. This feature can either make or break a carousel ad for clients.

In conclusion, carousels are a dynamic format that allow for a versatile display of products. Marketers must be strategic in creating carousels because they are unpredictable and inconsistent in results. Have fun tinkering with this ad type!

Interested in taking your Facebook creative strategy to the next level? Learn more about Bamboo’s Facebook advertising expertise and services >

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