Facebook Forrester Social Media

Reaction to Facebook Video Adverts: DigitasLBi, Forrester, MEC, Essence, iProspect, Starcom MediaVest, Integral Ad Science, Carat


By Stephen Lepitak | -

December 18, 2013 | 10 min read

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Facebook has announced that it is now working on its video advertising offer, with a partnership between Summit Media Entertainment and Mindshare that will see a series of videos used to promote the upcoming film Divergent. But how will brands and advertisers react to this new offer from the world's largest social media network? The Drum asked some in the industry to find out.

Thom Clark, head of video, iProspect

My first impressions of this product are that it is a great first stab at the market but Facebook has a long way to go to compete with the likes of YouTube.

Facebook prides itself on its targeting and sells this as a main KPI. This is evident in their product, which is mainly focused on reach and branding. I’ve no doubt Facebook has done this to try, as everyone is trying, to take money from the broadcast budgets. Although this will more than likely happen, there is no specific value I can see that this will be better than broadcast VOD or YouTube reservation.

The product doesn’t compete with TrueView and there is very little engagement functionality within the ad unit itself. As with any other Facebook ad I’d expect to see a direct referral such as “Joe Bloggs likes this” or “10 of your friends watched” instantly giving the ad some weight. However, this doesn’t appear to have been included in the functionality. There is no other functionality within the product further than views, another indicator that this product is a direct competitor to broadcast VOD and reservation pre-roll rather than the increasingly popular TrueView and “for web” formats.

The discovery mechanism for the product is as follows: As a user scrolls down their news feed the video ad will auto-play (full frame & muted) in situ within the news feed, a click of the unit will restart the video and unmute. Once the video has finished playing the unit resets to allow users to scroll to more content as with photos currently.

The idea for this is that Facebook wanted the unit to appear as native to Facebook as possible. I argue that this isn’t very native and that a video ad appearing in the same way that a YouTube embed currently does would be far less intrusive. Unfortunately, Facebook didn’t have any data on whether the click of the video to unmute had any discrepancy with a standard click to play YouTube embed. There is also no data on whether this product performs better or worse than a standard Facebook advert that supports a YouTube embed - something that the Facebook sales teams are reporting great results on.

The restrictions of the product will only allow up to a 15-second video, and users will automatically have a frequency cap of one campaign per day. Facebook will also reserve the right to disapprove any video.

The pricing structure is tenancy per day which is again similar to a broadcast/reservation buy.

Overall the product will undoubtedly add value to a Broadcast campaign however I feel until Facebook can give some longevity to the content or utilise their analytics in a far more comprehensive way, the product is not amazingly well executed and doesn’t differentiate itself enough to make it a game changer. As far as the play team is concerned it will be interesting to see some results after its October launch in the US but I think for our product standard Facebook advertising with YouTube embedded videos will add more value.

Mark Syal, head of media EMEA at Essence

It’s a logical move for Facebook. They have a problem with ad campaigns suffering from wear out and becoming ineffective in a number of sectors. They also suffer from low CPMs and lower than ideal ad yields. If they can maintain the life of a campaign but drastically increase the CPM achieved then this makes absolute commercial sense. Estimates of £1bn in additional revenue are entirely possible. They need to increase their revenue to justify the current share price, which is still more reflective of future growth that it is of current value.

Facebook is a great free service, which is still growing globally – although it has reached a plateau in some markets. They have trialled and experimented with ad formats, some too invasive – and they have had to accept the backlash from commentators.

I guess the big question is - once this has happened, and this growth has occurred - what do they do next?

Nate Elliott, VP, principal analyst at Forrester

This news further confirms that Facebook has abandoned social marketing in favor of standard push-style ads. But if they're choosing to be just another online ad seller, this is a good move. Marketers love video, and will spend $3.6bn on online video ads in the US this year. And now Facebook will rival YouTube as a source of online video ad reach. We'll be watching to see how far and how quickly Facebook pushes these ads.

The company hasn't always been smart about testing new ad formats and rolling them out slowly, but that'll be important here to avoid compromising both the user experience and the video ads' effectiveness.

Niall Hogan, UK MD of Integral Ad Science

It feels obvious that Facebook would enter video, especially with the explosion of budget in this area in the last 12 months. And why shouldn't they? The challenge for Facebook, as for everyone else in VOD, is in scaling 'good' quality supply.

Facebook is already under pressure from advertisers to provide brand safe appropriate pages. If Facebook scales its offering via the vast amount of UCG video on its pages, this brand pressure will transfer to providing brand appropriate video content. How Facebook faces this challenge could be a large determinant in its success.

Dan Calladine, head of media futures, Carat

Video is one of the most effective and engaging forms of advertising, and it's no surprise that Facebook is testing autoplays, to put these ads in front of more people, rather than just static images. As with lots of features in Facebook it's a test initially - if it doesn’t prove to be more effective, or if people are turned off by it then it will be dropped, but I suspect that, like the Instagram ads, people will take to them.

A lot of the acceptance of the format is going to be in the targeting. No one likes ads that aren't relevant to them, but Facebook has enough data to have the ability to target these only to the sort of people who are likely to be interested. Assuming that this is extended to other brands then this will drive video ad spend across the whole industry, in the same way that Facebook's mobile ads have been instrumental in driving total mobile display revenue.

Tom Fryett, video activation associate director, Starcom MediaVest

Facebook's take on video is an interesting one, as the site offers advertisers an attention grabbing format that answers some of the challenges of “media-stacking” or “media-meshing” (sorry, but that’s apparently what we’re calling it…). Facebook has incredible reach and targeting capabilities, combining this with an AV format is an undeniably compelling proposition - once they build out the insight and reporting available, which we have heard might take time. But how will those all-important users react? I think this is the first time Facebook has entered a vertical with a mobile first proposition that takes over the entire screen. Even with the user choosing to un-mute and not scroll on, another plus for advertisers looking for attention not just impacts, video presents Facebook with one of its toughest challenges but undoubtedly one of its biggest opportunities to date.

Adam Russell, head of display, DigitasLBi

This looks like a positive development for advertisers looking to drive a deeper, more engaging experience for Facebook's audience and builds additional opportunities in their cannon of brand formats. Most interesting are the specifics around implementation - video formats that stream with the volume initially off pose a creative challenge (and potential opportunity) with brands needing to drive the initial engagement needed to initiate the user to enable sound.

The fact that Facebook focused on getting the mobile implementation right from the off is telling - a solution that caches ads when the user has wifi to deliver later when on a cellular connection provides scale yet doesn't negatively impact the user or reduce the advertising quality. Facebook is increasingly focused on monetising its mobile audience and it shows in the roll-out of this new format on both desktop and mobile.

Jason Steele, social media director, MEC Global Solutions

Facebook video ads represent a great platform for brands looking to raise brand awareness using rich media content but there remain question marks regarding measurement and ROI. The social network has yet to really answer how it's going to quantify the level of interaction with the user in terms of how many actually view the ads and for how long. Given the short shrift that users give irrelevant or unappealing content, the introduction of this format is likely to place a lot of emphasis on the quality and impact of the first few seconds of the creative. It's certainly going to be interesting to see how users react.

A 10% increase in engagement during the test phase should prove attractive to advertisers but I can still foresee an issue when users scroll through their newsfeed, and uptake is likely to be dependent on how Facebook reflects the increase engagement in the cost. Facebook will also need to manage the automated download from Wifi carefully and unless the videos get deleted automatically after they've been viewed then it's likely the Facebook app is going to eat away at the storage space on any smartphone.

It seems that brands are really hitting the newsfeed at the moment, which is really affecting organic brand reach, but this move paves the way for Facebook being more of a 'Pay to Play' model.

Facebook Forrester Social Media

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Integral Ad Science (IAS) is a global leader in digital media quality. IAS makes every impression count, ensuring that ads are viewable by real people, in safe and suitable environments, activating contextual targeting, and driving supply path optimization. Our mission is to be the global benchmark for trust and transparency in digital media quality for the world’s leading brands, publishers, and platforms. We do this through data-driven technologies with actionable real-time signals and insight. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in New York, IAS works with thousands of top advertisers and premium publishers worldwide. For more information, visit integralads.com

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