Facebook is certainly pushing hard on video content. Following updates this week relating to new video metrics in Page Insights and an algorithm update geared towards showing users more videos, The Social Network has today announced its first steps towards enabling video partners to earn ad revenue from the four billion plus videos they're serving to users every day - a move which also signals its next advance on YouTube in the battle for online video dominance.
For some time now, Facebook has been giving users a list of suggested videos related to content watched - once you view a video on the platform, a list of similar clips will come up related to that previous item.
Facebook's now testing a feature wherein once you select one of these suggested video posts, an in-line, autoplay ad will appear between the clips. It's similar to how YouTube displays in-line ads, however Facebook's making it clear that they're avoiding any pre-roll ads - Facebook's VP of Partnerships Dan Rose told Variety that pre-roll ads wouldn't work for how Facebook displays videos, which automatically start playing in the News Feed (people would be less likely to click through if all the autoplay showed was an ad).
Facebook's partnering with "a few dozen" media partners on the new ad offering, including Fox Sports, NBA, Hearst, Funny or Die and Tastemade. Under terms of the deal, Facebook will retain 45% of any revenue generated, with partner brands taking 55% - the same standard charge as YouTube currently offers. However, the way Facebook charges for their ads will be slightly more complex - Facebook's suggested video content shows up three or more options at a time, so the charging matrix may require further refinement to ensure the correct ad share allocation to each partner.
Facebook's hoping that the ability for publishers to monetize their video content will lead to more of them creating video content for Facebook. Definitely, brands are seeing major increases in video engagement on the platform - The NBA saw more than 100 million video views on Facebook over the course of the 2015 finals, up 180% on last year - and the opportunity for advertisers to generate more revenue from that attention will prove an attractive lure.
And while the revenue share, at this stage, is very similar to YouTube, Facebook is looking at how to charge for their video ad content in ways that will best benefit advertisers, which will also, no doubt, be aimed at getting them away from the Google-owned video giant. Will Facebook users care about being served video ads? Probably not - in this regard, they're somewhat using YouTube's established tactics against them, as people are used to being served in-line ads between content by now.
Facebook's currently testing the new video ads with a select group of iOS users, with a view to refinement and extension of the program in coming months.
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