Facebook plans video ads rollout amid substantial ad type reduction

Facebook recently announced a significant reduction in the number of ads available to social advertisers, yet amid this reduction they’re still planning to rollout new in-News Feed video ads, potentially this fall. So why video ads? What can serious Facebook advertisers expect from the new offering? How can they prepare to capitalize when video ads launch?

Why Video Ads?

According to Nielsen, 64 percent of brand marketers plan to increase spending for online video ads, while 73 percent of agencies plan to follow suit. To some degree, these plans come in response to increased consumer willingness to engage with video ads. A poll conducted by visual classification company WeSEE found “30 percent of consumers say they would watch a video ad about a topic they have recently posted about, if the video wasn’t too long.” and there appears to be enormous interest and potential in online video advertising. These numbers paint a very clear picture; with consumers and advertisers interest; it’s easy to understand Facebook’s plans.

With a presumed launch around October 2013, Facebook’s venture into video ads will likely come from some of its largest name brand sponsors, like Coca Cola, Nestle, Ford and American Express, as The Financial Times reports they are expected to participate in the testing. This approach provides a “play-it-safe” option for Facebook’s initial rollout, as early demographic targeting will be limited to the following categories: women over 30 years old; women under 30 years old; men over 30 years old; & men under 30 years old. Hardly the highly relevant targeting options most advanced Facebook advertisers crave, these basic targeting options are well-suited for larger brands that care to reach many, across broad demographics.

What Can Advertisers Expect?

The video ads will appear in users’ newsfeeds and will supposedly launch automatically with audio on mute and have a maximum run time of 15 seconds. Users will have the option of activating the audio at which point the video will restart from the beginning.

If the initial rollout is a success, Facebook will surely plan to expand the features and availability, extending the offering to other advertisers. These advertisers should expect the same granular targeting options offered for other Facebook ad types including demographic, psychographic and geographic options. It’s likely that Facebook will allow advertisers to utilize Custom and Lookalike Audiences in conjunction with video ads ensuring that advertisers can leverage the most advanced targeting at their disposal.

How successful these ads will be depends on several variables including targeting, content quality and relevance. Most existing online video ads disrupt the native web experience taking viewers out of their routine and turning them off from the message; Facebook’s new video ad offering will provide the viewer the option to engage by turning on the sound and therefore could potentially increase the engagement levels of viewers. The key to that engagement may be the relevance and length of the video ads.

Preparing to Take Advantage of Video Opportunity

Before video ads become readily available with a wide rollout, advertisers should already be planning and preparing the ads they want to run. Social marketers should be sure to:

  • Establish the target audience(s)
  • Create engaging content with relevant messaging for each target audience
  • Create high quality content that matches the runtime specifications (no longer than 15 seconds)
  • Ensure that content fits well on the small screen
  • Make these assets available to all brand managers and local representatives

For national brand managers who hope to create localized variations of video ads for audiences which interact with location pages, using a social CRM tool can help. This new breed of automation technology can disseminate these assets easily and save a lot of time and energy. The best options include a customized asset “library” from which local representatives can choose pre-approved ads, allowing each local representative the freedom of selecting appropriate ads to run while still ensuring consistent brand messages.

Time and user response will decide the fate of video ads, but a quick look at the numbers of both advertisers planning to spend for online video ads and the number of consumers who state they’d be open to viewing them shows great potential for the new ad type. Social advertisers should keep a close watch on the returns from the initial rollout phase and be ready to pounce when Facebook makes the feature widely available.

Jay Hawkinson is a partner at SIM Partners and has more than 12 years of online marketing experience. He can be reached at jhawkinson@simpartners.com.  

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.