How Facebook Is Positioning Its Upcoming Video Ads Vs. Television, YouTube

By David Cohen 

VideoOnFacebookPresentationPrimetimeReach650Facebook appears to have embraced the strategy of keeping its friends close and its enemies closer when it comes to television, rolling out several features in recent months aimed at helping TV networks and shows increase engagement on the social network, while at the same time mapping out a battle plan for its Preferred Marketing Developers to cut into TV’s ad dollars with its upcoming video ads. And YouTube had better watch its back, as well.

Despite the fact that the “Facebook for Business: Video on Facebook” presentation was shared with the social network’s PMDs only after non-disclosure agreements, Josh Constine of TechCrunch obtained a copy, and he posted the slides, along with notes from Facebook.

The social network has been cozying up to TV in recent weeks, rolling out features including:

  • Users of its Android application receive reminders about upcoming episodes of participating shows after they have liked those shows’ Facebook pages.
  • Facebook agreed to provide data on actions (likes, comments, and shares) related to TV shows to 10 TV networks in eight overseas countries, as well as to the “Big Four” networks in the U.S. — ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
  • The social network rolled out two application-programming interfaces geared toward news organizations, including TV networks: the public feed API, which displays a real-time feed of public posts for a specific word; and the keyword insights API, which tallies the total number of posts that mention a specific term during a specific time period, as well as enabling news organization to feature anonymous, aggregated results based on gender, age, and location.

However, Facebook’s plan to slice into TV’s share of the advertising revenue pie was detailed and thorough. The entire slide deck is available in the TechCrunch post, but here are some highlights.

The presentation offered “three critical components” of why advertisers should invest in video ads:

  1. You want to be where people are. Changing consumer behavior should shape where you spend your marketing dollars.
  2. You want to reach all of the people who matter to you. Facebook has unparalleled targeted reach.
  3. You want to be in the most engaging digital real estate, which, as you just saw, is Facebook’s News Feed.

Facebook also addressed its ad-targeting capabilities:

Facebook can help you access customer segments that have typically been hard or very expensive to reach. The size of our global audience, coupled with our targeting capabilities, enables advertisers to find audiences who they may not be able to find consistently or at scale on other media platforms.

For example, on TV, advertisers don’t always know who people are, and over-deliver to certain people and can’t reach other people. So advertisers end up hitting the same people over and over again with a large portion of the audience being underexposed.

With Facebook, you can precisely reach the audience you want, and know that your impressions are being delivered to the right people.

Advice on how to position Facebook versus television:

But you may be wondering how to consider Facebook in relation to your investment in TV advertising.

Facebook delivers incremental reach above TV, particularly for the highly coveted 25-through-34 demo.

During daytime, Facebook can increase reach above each of the major broadcast networks by 125 percent to more than 160 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds.

During primetime, Facebook can increase reach by 25 percent to 38 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds.

The social network also touted the mobile News Feed:

The News Feed is the main event on mobile. And given the fact that businesses can appear in the News Feed, they can essentially take over the entire homepage, resulting in the ultimate engagement with consumers. Our advertising units in News Feed are highly engaging given that they are equal in size and prominence as content from a user’s friends and family. They are not off to the side or secondary to the experience, but are central to the experience and delivered in a linear way.

On how to pitch Facebook video ads over YouTube:

Clients may bring up YouTube and argue that it’s better to be on YouTube, given that they have access to the aggregate counter and more video views. Potential response:

  • Yes, YouTube has the aggregate counter, but Facebook’s ad insights provides additional stats re: likes, comments, and shares.
  • Facebook offers a larger image in the most engaging place on the Web — thumbnail takes up a lot of space in News Feed.
  • The post-click experience with native Facebook video is more streamlined than the experience when a user clicks on a link pointing to an offsite video player.
  • This experience becomes even more choppy offsite for age-gated content (e.g., from an alcohol brand) given that the person must sign in to the other application to view the video.

Emphasize the informational/educational nature of the video.

Avoid saying anything negative about YouTube — leave the impression of the user experience up to them.

Readers: Do you think Facebook’s impending video ads product can successfully carve into the ad dollars currently being spent on TV and, to a lesser degree, YouTube?


TV-punching image courtesy of Shutterstock. Screenshots from “Facebook for Business: Video on Facebook” presentation courtesy of TechCrunch.