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The Rise of Carousel Ads

Posted 6 July 2016 9:00 AM by Michelle Li @MoxieUSA, @itsmichelleli

When it comes to advertising on social media platforms, carousel ads are on the rise. Originally launched on Facebook in 2014, carousel ads allow advertisers to showcase several images in one post by rotating them, giving advertisers the ability to better tell a story or display a larger array of products and features.

Since the launch of carousel ads, they have seen click-through rates and recall rates much greater than the industry standard. On Facebook, a study from Kinetic Social found that carousel ads drove 10 times more traffic to advertisers’ websites and had a click-through rate of 1% — nearly 10% higher than the industry norm. Additionally, Facebook reported carousel ads driving anywhere between 30%-50% lower cost-per-conversion — and 20%-30% lower cost-per-click — than single-image ads.

Once Instagram saw how much success the ad unit garnered on Facebook, it had to hop on board. After their launch on Instagram in 2015, carousel ads have already shown very promising statistics, driving an additional 2.5-point lift in ad recall. Looking at more specific case studies, such as a Wendy’s carousel campaign, ad agency VML claimed a 20-point lift in ad recall as compared to the 14-point life of a single-image ad. In such a saturated media landscape, these numbers are driving brands to create carousel ads in hopes of breaking through the brand clutter and really making a strong impact on viewers.

With the rise in popularity, brands have found increasingly unique and diverse ways to use these new carousel ads. Some of the best examples follow:


MINI – Virtual Tour

MINI used Facebook carousel ads to take consumers through a virtual tour of its new Hardtop 4 Door.


Wendy’s – Panoramic Views

Tapping into the innate visual nature of the platform, Wendy’s revealed an array of salads in this innovative panoramic carousel ad on Instagram.

Samsung – Tutorials

To demonstrate the capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, Samsung released a series of innovative carousel ads on Instagram that worked as mini-tutorials for different aspects of the smartphone’s camera.  


Twitter has also jumped in on the carousel trend, introducing the ad unit earlier in June with the options of allowing advertisers to show text, photos and videos in a single ad. But to differentiate itself from competing platforms, Twitter added the ability to link tweets into the units, inserting content from users or influencers, using word-of-mouth marketing to develop stronger relationships with consumers.

Disney’s BFG – Influencer Content

To advertise its upcoming movie BFG, Disney used carousel ads to pull in content created by actors in the movie, shared on their own social media accounts.

So what does this mean for brands? When entering the carousel ad realm as a brand, it is important to tailor the content to each different social platform. While carousel ads are evolving to have nearly identical features across platforms, advertisers should be mindful of differentiating the platform uses. Facebook, a social platform heavily built on sharing links, offers the most ideal setting to see consumer click-through, even linking each individual image/video in the carousel to a different location. Instagram, the most visual of the social media platforms, should be used to showcase eye-catching imagery through photos and videos. Lastly, with the introduction of Twitter carousel ads, advertisers should capitalize on the topical/live news aspects of the platform to build their ads, as well as the ability to incorporate user-generated and influencer content seamlessly.

Have you seen any innovative carousel ads that stand out? Share them with us.

Michelle Li, Digital Strategy Intern 



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