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Bigger. Better? A New Look for Facebook’s Right-Hand Rail Ads

Facebook recently announced changes to ads in the right-hand rail. In short, advertisers will soon be required to use a larger image size, in the same proportions as desktop News Feed ads, and there will be fewer of the right-hand rail ad units than at present. The creative size will increase from 100x72 pixels to 600x315, the same size as News Feed ads. Not only will this change make ads on the right-hand rail more visually appealing, but the ad creation process will also be streamlined for advertisers as the same images for desktop News Feed ads can now be used for right-hand rail ads.

New RHR Format - Facebook Example

The number of right-hand rail ads will be gradually reduced from seven to three. With fewer ads and larger images, Facebook has seen increased engagement from preliminary tests of the new design. We expect to see higher click-through-rates compared to the smaller right-hand rail ad units. However, with less right-hand "real estate”, competition for space and CPMs will undoubtedly increase. While the right-hand rail is often thought of as the "more efficient" location from a direct response perspective due to its lower CPMs, this change in size and price should  help close the gap between News Feed ads and right-hand rail ads. This change is very slowly rolling out, so direct insights into performance are limited, but larger creatives for the new design will be mandatory as of August 1, 2014. Facebook has confirmed that the current right-hand rail ad character limits will still apply.  However, the 20% text limit on creatives is News Feed-specific and does not apply. How do you think the new ad sizes will change the landscape? Do you think this will make Facebook less or more of the "hot spot" for advertisers?
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