Studio X: Facebook, Inc,

Examining the Real-World Impact of Ad Product Design

Frank Marquardt
Dec 4, 2018 · 4 min read

Quality design transforms the quality of the experiences we have online. It provides intuitive, elegant ways to achieve our goals with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

We’ve seen the promise of quality design in the consumer technology that has emerged over the past several decades. It has made it easier to do most things, from paying a bill to ordering dinner.

But the tools we use at work have lagged behind. They’re often designed without a whole lot of thought for the end user, resulting in clunky interfaces and complicated work flows — even though we spend most of our time at work.

On the Facebook Ads Design team, we’ve taken on the challenge of designing and building efficient and effective enterprise tools that are just as elegant as the ones we use in our personal lives. And we’ve seen that when we succeed, we can reshape the work experience for millions of people and help their businesses grow.

Driving economic growth — for everyone

Large corporations have traditionally had an advantage when it comes to advertising. The more money businesses have, the more people they can reach. Traditionally, small businesses haven’t been able to afford to connect with people on a large scale, but Facebook’s ad system challenges that model by enabling relevant ads to reach more people—even if the budget is small.

Using the same powerful tools that global businesses use for their campaigns, small businesses have been able to advertise with greater efficiency. They can take advantage of targeting tools that let them reach people based on their location or interests and who are most likely to care about their product. They can get results that drive business growth for less than $100.

In Walla Walla, Washington, Handmaid Cleaning generated thousands of dollars of business through a single $30 ad — and have used Facebook as a key part of their marketing strategy as they’ve grown to 17 employees who service more than 200 clients.

The owner of Razpachos, a dessert shop in Chicago, says 30 percent to 40 percent of his customer base comes from Facebook and that he has increased sales every month since opening, providing steady jobs for 12 to 15 people.

Traxler Printing in Columbus, Ohio, has grown from one employee printing T-shirts to a team of 30 full-time employees and 10 part-time employees, and the business has gone from printing T-shirts to offering a wide range of design, branding and small business consulting services. The company’s only marketing tools? Facebook and Instagram.

A recent report from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce concluded that “80 percent of Latino-owned small- and medium-size businesses on the platform say that they’ve been able to hire more employees due to growth since joining Facebook — nearly twice as much as the general SMB population.”

These aren’t just feel-good stories. By constantly developing new ways to apply emerging technology, we enable growth that drives employment. Serving 6 million active advertisers — most of them small businesses — our designers have an unmatched opportunity to impact people and economies around the world.

Reimagining advertising

For the most part, people don’t really hate ads. They hate intrusive, spammy, irrelevant ads. Unfortunately, that’s how many ads feel today. We’re working to change that by enabling advertisers to make ads more meaningful to the people who see them. Our vision is a future where ads are as interesting and valuable as anything else a person sees in News Feed.

It’s a complex challenge that we’re tackling at an unprecedented scale. The tools we design have an immediate impact on the lives of billions of people, including millions of advertisers. One such tool is Facebook Slideshow, which allows small- and medium-size businesses to create video-like ads without the cost and expertise associated with producing a traditional video. It also lets audiences in areas with poor connectivity see a high-quality ad.

We’re constantly innovating to create new ways to connect advertisers with the people most likely to care about their products while also building design teams full of people who reflect the boundless diversity of our global user base.

Reshaping the ad industry

At Facebook, we’re proud that our tools have made it easier for all businesses, from tiny shops to global corporations, to reach vast audiences. Our structure and culture help to maximize our impact. Designers (including product designers, content strategists and UX researchers) are part of a cross-functional product team that works together start to finish without handoffs. No function manages another. As a result, designers’ decisions and creativity shine through in all the products we make.

We’ve found that our work demands a higher designer-to-engineer ratio than consumer design. And because a single change can have a staggering number of ripple effects, we constantly strive to meet the most rigorous standards of consistency, efficiency and speed.

It’s true that the tools we’ve worked so hard to design have also been used in ways we didn’t intend. Our job now is to keep innovating while also working to safeguard our platform.

Millions of businesses depend on the tools we create, so designing them to be as elegant and effective as possible is a huge and important undertaking that we take seriously. This requires product designers, content strategists and UX researchers who love hard problems — and who think that merely reshaping the advertising industry isn’t enough of a challenge.

If you’re working on or interested in creating innovative ad products that have global scale and impact, watch this space and join the Facebook Design: Business Tools group.

Facebook Design: Business Tools

Frank Marquardt

Written by

Director of content strategy at Facebook

Facebook Design: Business Tools

Stories from like-minded product designers, user experience researchers, and content strategists who are passionate about improving the world through the creation of well-crafted business tools.

Frank Marquardt

Written by

Director of content strategy at Facebook

Facebook Design: Business Tools

Stories from like-minded product designers, user experience researchers, and content strategists who are passionate about improving the world through the creation of well-crafted business tools.

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