Facebook's new twist on catalog shopping

Facebook is helping retailers bring their catalogs to life.
The social media giant introduced a new ad format that enables brands to distribute catalogs through mobile devices. Called "lifestyle templates,” the new format replicates the look of a print catalog, and also allows customers to make a purchase items directly through the Facebook ad, according to Business Insider. 
The template is an extension of Facebook’s “Collection” ad format, a platform that showcases relevant merchandise and features in a single ad. It also supports a fast-loading, full-screen experience that allows users to tap on ads to learn more about the features of a specific product, according to Facebook.
By integrating the lifestyle template within Collection’s functionality, Facebook allows brands to add more details that will inspire shoppers to browse and buy the merchandise in real-time. Facebook can also target and personalize ads based on user behavior, Business Insider said.
In the report, Graham Mudd, director of monetization marketing at Facebook, said, "There are elements of the catalog which are really unique and certainly worth replicating, such as their storytelling potential. But, I think there are some elements that we're bringing to the experience that are really specific to mobile and to Facebook.”
Here’s how it works: As lifestyle format ads appear in user news feeds, customers can click on different items in the photo to get more information about the merchandise. As users scroll down, new pages appear. If a user wants to make a purchase, they click on a "shop now” icon, which connects them to the advertiser's online store.
According to the report, Williams-Sonoma’s chief marketing officer Felix Carbullido partnered with Facebook to create the lifestyle templates. Williams-Sonoma’s West Elm brand, along with roughly a dozen brands including J. Crew, plans to make the ad format available globally in October, according to AdWeek.
The platform rivals a similar program from Pinterest. The social media company’s “Shop the Look” program is an extension of its Buyable Pins program, which enables “pinners” to buy a specific item directly on Pinterest. By using Shop the Look, users can buy products they find inside fashion and home decor pins.
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