Facebook unveils an automated ad builder and an appointment manager for small businesses

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Facebook said it’s launching a number of new products aimed at small businesses today — which is appropriate, since we’re currently in the middle of National Small Business Week.

These new features include Automated Ads, which Director of Product Management Nikila Srinivasan said are “really built for small businesses that are one- to two-person businesses with very little marketing expertise.”

The idea is that business owner can answer a few questions about what kind of company they are and about their goals are for the campaign. Then based on their answers — as well as the information on their Facebook Page — Facebook will create recommendations for the audience they should target, the budget they should set and even how the different versions of the ad should look and what they should say.

Small businesses can still buy ads the way they did before, but even if they go the Automated Ads route, they don’t have to accept Facebook’s recommendations. They can set their own budget, for example, and Facebook will predict the results. These ads can run on Facebook itself, as well as Instagram, Messenger and the Facebook Audience Network.

Facebook Automated Ads

Srinivasan said there’s a “set it and forget it” element to the program, but at the same time Facebook will make sure to keep advertisers alerted to how the campaign is going and “it’s up to the business if they want to come in and be more active.”

“The main thing is, we don’t want there to be guess work, we don’t want there to be expertise needed to use this product,” she said.

And while Facebook said it’s provided lightweight support for booking appointments in Messenger in the past, it’s now expanding that functionality, so businesses can accept appointments and manage all of them appointments through Facebook and Instagram. These appointments can also be synced with the business owner’s personal calendar, or with third-party appointment tools like MyTime and HomeAdvisor.

Lastly, Facebook said it’s rolling out new video editing capabilities, making it easier to add text and image overlays to a video, and to automatically crop a video to accommodate the different aspect ratios of different ad environments.

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