Facebook Is Testing Out Mid-Roll Ads to Further Boost Its Video Revenues

By borrowing YouTube's model

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Look out, YouTube. Facebook is trialing mid-roll ads for videos that are viewed for at least 20 seconds, according to a report today by Recode, which cited unnamed industry sources. The digital giant declined to comment on the report. 

Simply put, Facebook wants to generate cash from the clips posted by publishers on its platform. According to Recode, video publishers will get 55 percent of the sales in a financial arrangement that mirrors how YouTube works with them. 

Billions of clips are viewed daily on Facebook, so the revenue-generating prospects appear to be tremendous for the publicly traded company. Publishers should also be intrigued by the potential for a new earnings stream. It will be interesting to watch whether the mid-roll ads—after viewers are engaged with the clip for 20 seconds—prove to be effective. 

"By only allowing ads 20 seconds into a video, Facebook is taking an interesting approach by sending a clear message to publishers—create engaging content, or else your ads won't be seen," commented Joe Hyland, CMO of webinar platform ON24. "Facebook realizes that with video, engagement is more valuable than just clicks. I think it's a shrewd move by Facebook to ensure only the most engaging content makes its way onto the platform."

So, it appears that there will be more ads soon on Facebook newsfeeds, which could irk the platform's 1.8 billion users. Until now, video ads were limited to sponsored posts that brands purchased directly from Facebook.

The development does not come as a shock. While speaking with Poynter last fall, Facebook vp of partnerships Dan Rose clearly hinted at the move. 

"Next year, we're going to be looking at ways to apply the ad break model to regular videos on Facebook, videos that are not live," he said. "Videos that are producing and publishing. We're not there yet. Over the next few months, we're going to be expanding the ad break within live videos. But early next year, we hope to be able to talk more about how that same idea could apply to regular videos as well."

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.