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You Can Target With Facebook's New Video Ads

Not just a mass market blunt instrument

Facebook's video ads are on target, for some brands.

The social network's new autoplay video ads come with some key targeting capabilities, but they are still an exclusive purchase that won’t be accessible to all advertisers, sources said.

Brands, advertisers and agencies have been eagerly anticipating the autoplay video from Facebook, but some industry observers expected the social network to only sell nationwide ad spots. While the intention is still to deliver high-impact, high-priced marketing to big audiences, advertisers will be able to tailor their campaigns much like they do on television.

The first test partner, Summit Entertainment, will show a trailer for its new movie Divergent to a fraction of U.S. Facebook users, who will see the 15-second spot on Thursday, a source familiar with the campaign said. Since this first ad is just a test, Summit chose a target demographic in the U.S., and the video will only reach 5 percent of that group, this source said.

Autoplay ads are expected to cost about $2 million when Facebook sells them more openly. The price is on par with other premium Internet digital video ad buys, another source said. Facebook is looking to seize some of the digital video ad market that generated about $4.15 billion this year and grew more than 40 percent year over year, according to eMarketer.

YouTube commands 20 percent of that digital ad spending. Facebook has an advantage in the industry because brands are more comfortable on the platform compared to YouTube, according to agency sources. The social network has better data on who its users are, and there are less surprises in terms of what content is paired with their ads, one source said. Movie studios in particular have been looking for an avenue into online digital video that could rival the reach of TV.

"Studios have been looking for increased distribution online," the source said. "They want this kind of broad-reach play that's not difficult to enter." Major media buyers have already approached Facebook to help sell targeted video spots to multiple advertisers daily, sources said. The buyers want to offer clients the ability to pool resources and rotate ads daily.

For now, Facebook is tightly managing the rollout of the video ads, and one client per day has access to it.

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