Facebook has begun to test mid-roll advertisements in select publisher’s videos in an effort to grow revenue from all the videos being posted to the site. As an advertiser, I want nothing more than to test out the new opportunity and would not hesitate to recommend the new ad format to any client that advertised on Facebook. However, as a Facebook user, I feel there is room for improvement.
Facebook’s new mid-roll ads can currently only be added to videos longer than 90 seconds. The ad can trigger after 20 seconds and then is limited to 15 seconds in length. There has been some concern that the new ad format will cause engagement to drop off post-ad, and in my opinion, this is a valid fear. The question I pose isn’t if video ads should be used, but rather, is 20 seconds the correct start time for an ad? If I am judging off similar video ad platforms and my own preferences, it may cause more users to abandon the content they were trying to watch in the first place.
In the current ad test, Facebook is using a short-form video format while trying to fit a long-form ad placement into their advertisers’ videos. Their biggest video competitor, YouTube, does not allow mid-roll ads for videos under 10 minutes long, yet Facebook is approving mid-roll ads for 90-second videos that can trigger after barely a fifth of the video is completed.
I think mid-roll ads are a great step forward in Facebook video advertising, however, maybe the ads should not trigger until later in the video. If I had Facebook’s ear, I would tell them to trigger the ad after half of the video has been viewed. At that point, the viewer is clearly invested and would be more willing to finish an ad to watch the end of the content. 20 seconds into a 90-second video is not long enough for someone to have committed to finishing what they are watching. This change would appeal to those with concerns the ad is starting too soon and decreasing engagement on videos.
With mid-roll ads being so new there is not much data, yet. There is speculation this might bring about more interesting content from publishers for better engagement, giving advertisers more options to promote their products or services. There is also speculation the new ads will lead to more live broadcasts, as Facebook begins to test mid-roll ads on live video. One thing is for certain – mid-roll ads are here to stay.
Have you had a chance to use mid-roll ads? What are your thoughts on the new ad placements? Reach out to me on Twitter. I would love to hear your thoughts!