Facebook Is Giving Advertisers More Flexibility When Buying Mid-roll Video Ads

Coincides with the debut of dozens of original shows on Watch

Facebook will begin letting marketers buy video ads in a more split-up way. Facebook
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Facebook is giving advertisers more control over how they buy mid-roll video ads.

Today, the social network announced it will let marketers choose whether to buy in-stream video placements on the Facebook Audience Network, within Facebook itself or to buy ads across all formats. According to the company, advertisers have been wanting more options for how to split up their video budgets instead of having to buy some of everything. (In other words, Facebook is letting marketers have a video buffet rather than sit down for the prix fixe meal.)

The news comes as Facebook begins its rollout of Watch, a new video tab on the platform that will host dozens of original shows from publishers and creators. Watch has the potential to substantially increase how much time users spend watching video on the platform, even as advertisers look to spend more money on it.

“This is rooted really in two things,” Facebook product marketing manager Kate Orseth said in an interview. “Advertisers have been asking for this, and separately it’s mirroring what we’re seeing in consumer behavior.”

While advertisers have been able to deliver mid-roll ads since early this year, Orseth said the inventory has finally scaled to a level that allows Facebook to better support splitting up the packages. (The updates only apply to video ads and not display placements.)

In-stream ads seem to be performing well for Facebook’s standards, with more than 70 percent receiving watch times of at least 15 seconds (mostly with sound on). With Watch’s debut—which includes publishers like Condé Nast, Hearst and Quartz—Facebook says it will allow many of the publishers and creators on the platform to run ads within the shows. The business model will be the same as it is elsewhere on Facebook, Orseth said, with content creators receiving an “industry standard” share of 55 percent of the revenue received from ads shown during videos.

Even as Facebook touts its success with publishers, some of them have criticized the revenue split. During Facebook’s F8 conference in Silicon Valley in April, Facebook held separate, secret one-day conference during the annual developer event for publishers to hear from Facebook—and for Facebook to hear from publishers.

Asked about the ongoing frustration about revenue splits across the platform, Orseth said the company is continuing to listen to publishers and creators making the actual the content.

“We’re constantly listening to publishers and creators and we want them to successfully monetize and earn money for their content publishing on Facebook,” she said. “We’re continuing to focus on that in addition to helping advertising find value when they’re in these environments.”

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@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.