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Facebook is aggressively pushing Stories, both to users and brands



 Facebook employees Mark ZuckerbergJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Facebook is banking on its ephemeral format Stories to
    boost its stalling growth — and sustain its ad
  • The company announced Wednesday
    that it was rolling out ads on Facebook and Messenger Stories
    globally, after testing ads since May.
  • The company is trying to push adoption of the format
    among users and advertisers.
  • Advertisers are beginning to see value of using Stories
    to optimize for reach, reaching more people with their ads
    across more apps at lower costs. 

Facebook is counting on Stories to boost its stalling growth.

The company announced Wednesday
that it was rolling out ads on Facebook and Messenger Stories
globally, after testing ads since May.

While Stories have exploded on Facebook-sibling Instagram,
Facebook said the mobile storytelling format is also gaining
major traction on the Facebook and Messenger apps — which
combined now have 300 daily active Stories users combined. 

Facebook Stories had hit 150 million daily active users in May,
whereas Messenger had 70 million last September. Snapchat —
which originally pioneered the format — had 181 million
daily active users as of August.

“People are really using Facebook Stories to connect with friends
and family because it’s camera-first, it’s mobile- first and it’s
very visual,” said Liz Keneski, user experience research
manager at Facebook.

Facebook is actively trying to get people to make Stories on
Facebook — not just Instagram

But people aren’t just gravitating toward Stories on Facebook and
Messenger on their own. Facebook is pushing people there.

The company has given prime real estate to Stories across its
family of apps, placing the format right at the top on the
Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp.

It has also been making it easier for people to post Stores of
their own, by handing them a suite of simple creative tools like
stickers, doodles, polls and AR-powered masks, said Keneski.

And it is is nudging people to use Stories for birthday
message and to communicate among its Groups and Events.

“We want to help people create great stories, we want to kick off
meaningful conversations and we want to do everything for
Facebook Stories in ways that people are already connecting on
Facebook,” said Keneski.

The company is also pushing the ephemeral format to marketers

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made no qualms
about how big a focus Stories is, calling it “a big part of the
future of sharing” on the company’s last earnings call. Newsfeeds
are getting increasingly saturated on both Facebook and
Instagram, after all, and Facebook knows it has to turn elsewhere
to maximize profits.

And even though Facebook only began testing Stories ads in a few
markets starting May, the social networking giant has
been actively pushing the format to advertisers
 over the
past few months.

Facebook’s ad platform (and entire ecosystem) is
wildly popular with advertisers, but is becoming increasingly
saturated,” said Brendan Gahan, founder of Epic Signal. “So it’s
not surprising that Facebook is rolling out additional avenues
like ads in Stories.”

Facebook clearly sees an opportunity in trying to replicate the
success of Instagram Stories on its other apps. Since
Instagram rolled out Stories in 2016, it has attracted 400
million daily users and seen several successful
brand campaigns.

Maria Smith, Director of Product – Facebook App Monetization,
said Wednesday that 62% of respondents to a survey said they
became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in
Stories, according to Facebook research. “It’s easy to drive
business results with this format.”

It is also starting to drive results

Easy or not, advertisers are welcoming the expansion of Stories
and beginning to see results. Both Tentree, an
eco-friendly clothing company, and Skout, a dating app, for
example, found that adding Facebook Stories to their Instagram
Stories ad campaigns resulted in more customer actions at a lower

Stories Ad KFC Kettle WhitePhoneFacebook

Similarly, KFC extended the reach of an Instagram Stories
campaign that it ran for its “FingerLickin’ Crispy Original Snack
Box” in the UK by also running the ads on Facebook
Stories to get a bigger bang for their buck.

The addition of Facebook Stories allowed the brand to reach more
people at a lower cost without sacrificing quality or targeting
control, leading to 33% lower
cost per view and 
19% lower cost per impression, said
the company.

“Combining [Facebook Stories] with Instagram as one Stories buy
across all platforms should bring down costs for advertisers in
many cases,” said Noah Mallin, head of experience, content and
sponsorship at Wavemaker, who noted that advertisers are seeing
more people complete video ads via Stories than in Facebook’s
News Feed.

Still, not everyone is convinced of the viability of Stories
outside of Instagram. There’s a reason behind the company
combining the number of daily active users on its flagship app
and Messenger, as Facebook Stories by itself had just about 150
million daily active users as of May.

Some buyers
were not convinced
that Stories on Facebook had reached
critical mass either. 

“Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp Stories don’t have nearly the
same cultural impact as Instagram Stories yet, so it might take
time for those placements to become feasible,” said Ryan Kovach,
paid social specialist at Social Outlier. “We’ve been testing
Facebook Stories as a placement, but right now, the traction
isn’t there.”

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