It stinks! Meta’s New Ad Design Frankly Looks Terrible

/ August 18, 2023/ Advertising, Commentary, Facebook, graphic design/ 0 comments

Facebook advertising by Meta has entered my radar again. Prompted by a post in a SMM group that the “new” automatic enhancement options look terrible. Essentially it’s a new add-on to Facebook’s automated ad serves. It seems that they are slowly moving people away from manually creating ads with granular targeting and bid adjustments to allowing Meta’s new AI to handle the promotion of the communications. In this sense all you do is add the visuals and give Facebook a headline and the AI takes it from there. You are encouraged now to use multiple headlines and multiple visuals which Meta will then A/B test to push the better creative to the potential clickers.

This sounds good in practice and where I have not seen any personal gains from running automated enhanced ads, maybe it’s too early in the game to see those kinds of results? Don’t know yet. What I do find glaringly obvious is the total disregard, as of writing this, for any sort of design aesthetic. Facebook has always been about good UI/UX in its presentation of its online presence. It’s not a MYSpace mess, for example, and those of you who know will chuckle at this.

Facebook/Meta advertising is just slapping a serif headline on a color taken from the image you upload and splattering it across the top of the creative. I’ve provided a few examples:

Have you seen what I’ve seen? This atrocious lack of design skill? We are taught very early on as designers that a better eye catching typeface is a San serif typeface. It’s heavier, it stands out, it attracts the attention. it’s classy and sets a feeling. What Facebook has done is just taken a random serif typeface, in this case it looks like a form of Clarendon or Old Style American, to grab the attention. They haven’t even thought about the leading, everything is jammed up together, it’s not allowed to breathe. It’s nightmare fuel for us designers.

Meta/Facebook is trying to encourage users of its business platform to switch from creating their own creative and let Facebook itself figure that out, but if the system is starting out by ignoring why things look the way they do, they are in for a shock. Nothing about these ad placements is design friendly. But do they work? I’d have to say yes, for the time being, this is attention grabbing in a way. You stop scrolling when you are caught by one of these headlines. In the case of pCloud, I use the free service so when I saw “19 million” and the big 85% off I stopped scrolling. So maybe there is some science being used here in the design choices.

It may look bad but it works.

As a Graphic Designer it’s hard to fight the science behind a choice. The data has told the tech people that this typeface and this design color, will work based on past engagements. You as the creative may not like it, but this is what works, your years of experience thinking that what was good before works now isn’t cutting it. Times have changed and the design world has changed. Now you’re beholden to the data and the AI. It sucks, but it what it is. Moving forward the best you can do with your Facebook ad is have a nice image, devoid of lots of text and multiple headlines in this format. Facebook will find the best audience and will serve the ad up to maximize clicks, for in the end the goal is clicks to conversions. Just seeing the Ad and taking no action no longer applies. What’s needed is creative that converts and if this works then why bother with design thinking?

In the end we’re going to see less and less creative put into digital advertising and more reliance on an AI. It’s happening already and will continue to grow exponentially. Design purists, probably like myself, cringe at the new “design aesthetic” but really? What can you do? It’s time to pivot away from being SMM’s and Digital Advertisers, and segue into a new field, before the AI takes that over too. What are your thoughts?

Ian Reid has been using Facebook to promote brands large and small for as long as Facebook has been around. He knows his way around Social Media Marketing and loves to. Help brands be successful online. Get in contact with him and see if he can help with your brand.

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