Facebook tests desktop Pages redesign that drops right-rail ads
After overhauling the look of mobile Pages last fall, Facebook is experimenting with a new design for the desktop version of Pages that drops right-rail ads from the page, among other changes.
According to screenshots posted on Twitter by The Next Web’s head of content, Matt Navarra, the redesigned desktop Pages adopt the changes Facebook made to mobile Pages last year, such as buttons displayed more prominently atop the page that people can click on to open a business’s app or shop on its site.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the test in an email on Tuesday.
“We’re testing a new design for Pages on desktop to make it easier for people to learn about and interact with businesses on Facebook, including a larger cover photo and more prominent call-to-action button,” the spokesperson said.
The full-width cover photo, which is no longer partially obscured by overlaid profile photo, isn’t the only cosmetic change being tested. The redesigned desktop Pages being tested omit the display ads that previously appeared on the right-hand side of desktop Pages, the spokesperson confirmed.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook will be phasing out right-rail ads entirely, at least not yet. It appears that Facebook is withholding the right-rail ads from the test to make room for the redesigned Page elements. In addition to the larger cover photo, the page navigation menu is repositioned along the left-hand-rail, and the page information boxes, such as the like count and “about” boxes, are switched over to the right-hand rail. And even if Facebook were to officially roll out the ad-free desktop Pages, it could keep the right-hand ads on its desktop homepage and people’s profile pages.
Besides, these right-rail ads aren’t super-important to Facebook’s business, considering that they’re desktop-only and Facebook’s audience and business is mobile-heavy. In the first quarter of 2016, Facebook’s desktop ad revenue grew by five percent year over year to $936.2 million, but itscontribution to Facebook’s overall ad revenue dropped to 18 percent — a result of fewer total desktop ad impressions being served in the quarter — with the remaining 82 percent of its ad revenue coming from mobile ads. It’s unclear how much the right-rail ads contribute to Facebook’s desktop ad revenue and how that contribution has trended over time, but it seems safe to assume it’s a minority share, considering they bring in less money per ad than Facebook’s news feed ads.
I wasn’t able to encounter live versions of the redesigned desktop Pages, but you can check out screenshots posted by Navarra and designer Hugh Briss for samples of what they look like.