Facebook’s New Social Video Ad Unit is an Engagement Magnet

Facebook launched a new kind of ad unit today that has the potential to drive much more engagement than any ad product on the site ever before has: embedded multimedia with comments visible to users’ entire friend list.

Facebook has created new home page advertising inventory with its upcoming redesign. However, this is the first time we’ve seen Facebook fill the sponsored home page slot with this kind of unit. The behavior:

  1. Clicking on the ad image opens a video player in-line
  2. Comments on the video are visible to your entire friend list.

The comments around the ad dramatically increase engagement with the unit, as the highly visible comments provide an opportunity for users to simultaneously draw attention to the ad by drawing attention to themselves. While this could backfire if comments degrading the advertiser are abundant (I saw a few “LAME!” comments about Tropic Thunder today), the ad comments powerfully take advantage of Facebook’s social dynamics to draw attention to an ad in a way that is impossible without the social graph. When is the last time you heard 9 friends talk about an online ad in the same day?

Ad comments are an interesting step forward in the evolution of “Social Ads.” While this kind of ad may not work as well outside of a few advertiser verticals, I expect that early advertisers will be pleased with its performance.

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