Facebook today unveiled Product ads, a new marketing unit designed to let businesses promote all their products.

The idea behind product ads, Facebook said, is that they allow marketers to shine a light on an entire product line even as they make it easy for Facebook users to find products they want. Product ads are designed to work on any kind of device end users have — from computers to tablets to mobile phones.

The ads can be highly customized, Facebook said, and are meant to follow users throughout the entire consumer process, from the moment they discover a product all the way until they click buy.

Facebook's new Product ads are meant to let marketers showcase their products in any way they want.

Above: Facebook’s new Product ads are meant to let marketers showcase their products in any way they want.

The idea behind product ads is that marketers want to be able to put a spotlight on more than one product in their catalog. But in the past, it has been difficult for them to show Facebook users the products they’re actually interested in.

Using Facebook’s Custom Audiences, marketers can target their ads at users who visited their website or their apps, or can aim the ads at people who have indicated specific interests or who are in specific geographic locations. At the same time, Facebook said, advertisers can curate their messages however they want. That means creating whatever kind of ad best suits their product line — be it an ad that showcases multiple products or a best-seller. Or anything else that suits their messaging.

Product ads were designed so that if they’re used with Facebook’s conversion pixel, a tool for conversion measurement, the ads can be dynamically optimized for every individual who might see them. Facebook thinks that means that consumers will end up seeing the ads that are best for them, and that marketers will benefit by seeing much higher return on their advertising investment.

It seems to be working.

In a test of product ads with a large ecommerce client, Brand Networks, a Facebook preferred marketing developer, found that the new ad initiative paid big dividends.

The test “was able to demonstrate clear success with this effective, mobile-friendly approach to retargeting over the key holiday season,” Brand Networks said.

During that test, the retailer got a return of several dollars per dollar of media spend. At the same time, mobile CPMs cost 52 percent less than on the desktop feed, which resulted in 22 percent “more scale at equivalent ROI,” Brand Networks said.

All told, Brand Networks added, 40 percent of revenue during the test was driven by mobile ads.

In the end, Brand Networks concluded, Facebook’s product ads yielded 360 percent higher return-on-ad spend, a 100 percent higher conversion rate, and 10 percent higher average order size.

The giant retailer Target, too, has seen a big return after using product ads. According to Facebook, Target saw a 20 percent increase in conversion rates compared to other Facebook ads. And that was especially true on mobile devices.

According to Facebook, product ads will let businesses highlight their products in a number of new ways. “Marketers can quickly and easily upload their product catalog and let Facebook … manually create campaigns targeting certain products to specific audiences, or choose to let Facebook automatically optimize their campaign to deliver the most relevant products to people.”

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