Facebook is testing video ads in its news feed, a logical step just a few months after launching video viewing, also in the news feed.
Although the first video product was designed exclusively for mobile consumption, the new video format for advertisers will eventually be visible to all, both on mobiles and on desktops. For now, however, only a happy few will get it rolled out in their feeds, promoting the upcoming sci-fi movie Divergent, Facebook wrote in a blog post.
What and How
Just like the previous video product, videos will silently autoplay in the news feed and disappear if you scroll down. If you click on it, it’ll play full screen, with the sound on. Technically, “video ads are pre-downloaded when you are on WiFi so they do not consume additional data,” the blog post states.
Broaden the Horizon for Advertisers
In another blog post intended for business purposes, Facebook explains that the video ads format will address a specific need from marketers, complementing the existing brand pages. Unlike brand pages, which give the opportunity to post videos for free, the promoted videos are a premium product (by the way, Facebook is not willing to disclose the pricing points) that will allow broadcasting to a wider audience at specific times, versus the more targeted brand page approach.
But, do not be fooled, Facebook will also push beyond just the “general” newsfeed: the ad will play on pages whose are consistent with the promoted content. Meaning that the current test run on Divergent will be visible to individuals, fans of pages maintained by Summit Entertainment (who runs the campaign) and on the pages of entertainers or sports organizations. The sports organization part is unclear but maybe the movie plot will make it all obvious…
Lack of Stickiness
Looking at the comScore data for October 2013 U.S. online video rankings, Facebook is clearly a laggard in terms of duration of viewing per user and per month, coming in at only 33.5 minutes per viewer, compared to 506.5 minutes on Googles sites.
Facebook’s real challenge is to increase dwell time, said Howie Goldfarb of marketing firm Blue Star Strategic. He wrote an interesting post about the first release of video play in Facebook’s mobile news feed. In it he says that the format responds to a huge need on the part of the social network: keep users captive on video play to actually measure up to other major competitors. Goldfarb also highlights the fact that the migration of Facebook users towards the mobile app and away from desktops dictated this first move.
This second move for video ads lets one believe that the test results were conclusive in the mobile play. Let’s see how this one plays out.