Facebook tests pre-roll ads, shifts Ad Breaks to longer content

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Dive Brief:

  • Facebook confirmed it will begin testing pre-roll video ads on the platform’s video-centric features such as Watch in a blog post outlining several updates to its video distribution and monetization strategy. The test will start with six-second pre-roll ads. 
  • In an update to the News Feed ranking, Facebook will show more videos from publishers and creators that people actively want to watch, such as shows or videos that are part of series or content from partners who are creating active communities. It is also now easier for show creators to reach existing viewers by distributing new episodes directly to followers if their Show Page is linked to their existing Page.
  • The key change to video monetization is how Facebook handles Ad Breaks, with shorter content no longer eligible for these ads. In January, eligibility will shift to videos that are at least three minutes long with the earliest possible ad break at the one-minute mark. This is a shift from the previous policy of eligibility for ad breaks started at videos of 90 seconds and the first break possible at the 20-second mark.

Dive Insight:

The Ad Break change is one way Facebook is trying to ensure users are watching ads as brands demand greater insight into the viewability of the ads they invest in. Video ads, in particular, have been a problem for Facebook, with research suggesting viewability on Facebook significantly trails industry averages

The ad break change was the result of consumer research from Facebook that found only allowing ads in the longer videos improved overall satisfaction, and delaying the first ad break increased satisfaction 18%. The news post noted that viewer satisfaction numbers are tough to boost so the research suggests the update will increase the likelihood that viewers will keep watching under the new policy. The update includes improved metrics such as a dedicated ad break insights tab as well as two new metrics — ad break impressions at the video level and ad break CPMs at the video level.

The news also contains a change to Live Ad Breaks that appears designed to address concerns around brand safety. Live Ad Breaks will no longer support Profiles and will only support Pages with more than 50,000 followers after research showed Pages below this threshold were more likely to share live videos that don’t comply with content guidelines. 

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