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Switching on to Facebook TV-style video ads

Facebook seems to be increasingly eager these days to become associated with TV. Maybe it wants to override Twitter which is usually the social network of choice for TV viewers, or maybe it’s the latest tactic in the Zuck’s mission to achieve world domination.

A report by Bloomberg reveals (unofficially for now – the information comes from people “close to Facebook”) that the launch of TV-style, 15 second video ads is imminent.

This probably comes as no surprise. Facebook video ads have been speculated for months and the recent introduction of Instagram videos did nothing but add coal to the fire.

So what do we know about Facebook video ads from the Bloomberg report?

  • Ads will be 15 seconds long, in the style of TV commercials, and will be priced at somewhere between $1 - 2.5 million per day
  • Ad units will only be sold per day
  • Users will be exposed to the ads a maximum of three times per day
  • Marketers can only target the ads based on age and gender

To me some aspects of this “revelation” seem somewhat surprising. Why pay $2.5 million for an ad which lasts 15 seconds - after all, we're only talking about Facebook, this isn't the SuperBowl. Yes, people are spending an increasing amount of time on Facebook, but why not invest this money in a slightly longer TV campaign? The high price tag of these ads certainly alienates smaller businesses who have previously enjoyed the ability to advertise effectively on Facebook for as little money as you like.

As far as the targeting is concerned, advertisers can be much less specifc with the audience the want to reach as ads can only be targeted based on age and gender, to mimic what TV advertisers are used to. I’m left wondering whether this might devalue Facebook’s ad offering? Marketers currently enjoy the ability to target very niche audiences based on the information in their profile, such as location, interests and likes. But maybe this is why the ads are priced so high – because the potential audience reach will be much higher.

Perhaps a more feasible model (possibly one Facebook will release later down the line) is the ability for brands to turn their 15 second Instagram videos into Facebook ads. This could open up the Facebook video advertising space to smaller businesses, and maybe tie in with Instagram advertising (something which Mark Zuckerburg himself hinted at earlier this week).

While Facebook video ads isn't "new news" as such, it is interesting that Facebook may be choosing a TV-style route. My final thought on the matter is: what impact will this have on TV channels such as ITV, which rely on advertising as part of their business model? Will brands give their ad dollars to Facebook instead, or will they remain loyal? Only time will tell, but it’s certainly one to watch.