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David Ziguras May 9th, 2014

Facebook recently released its long-awaited video-advertising product, as the world’s largest social network moves to diversify its revenue by tapping into television-marketing budgets.

The 15-second spots, which Facebook began testing in December will be offered to select U.S. ad partners initially. The promotions will be rolled out into users’ news feeds in May. Facebook is also testing two new features that marketers can apply to its ads — one for scheduling what times of day an ad appears, and another for setting a promotion’s reach and frequency.

Facebook, which has said it won’t increase how often it shows ads to people, is bolstering its ad-product lineup as it seeks to charge more for higher-quality promotions. The company is going after the lucrative television-ad market 

As it works to increase the quality of ads, Facebook is also changing its approach to rolling out products. While the company used to quickly introduce ad formats and hewed to a “move fast, break things” philosophy, it took its time with the video ads to avoid pushing out something that didn’t work or that disrupted the user experience. Facebook also began streamlining its ad offerings last year, while making it easier to measure and manage them.  

The 15-second video ads are akin in length to a TV commercial and will be sold similar to how television ads are offered, with targeting limited to age and gender. It is understood ads will range in price from $1 million to about $2.5 million a day.

Facebook users won’t see one of the ads in their news feeds more than three times a day, said Tim Rathschmidt, a spokesman for Facebook.

Marketers, who still spend most of their ad budget on television, have been looking for ways to reach large audiences online. While Internet properties such as Yahoo and YouTube draw big crowds, people don’t show up on the sites in simultaneously large numbers the way they do for hit TV shows or live sporting events. Facebook has about 1.2 billion members globally, guaranteeing advertisers a Super Bowl-sized audience every day.

Facebook said its new product to manage ad timing would let an advertiser such as a pizza maker schedule its promotion for afternoon and dinner hours, when they previously would have had to manually pause and restart the pitch. The feature for setting reach and frequency would enable a marketer to space out its campaign across several weeks, instead of inundating users with ads all at once.

Facebook has been working to build its credibility among large advertisers, consulting with an advertising council made up of some of the world’s largest brands and working with outside firms like Nielsen to measure the impact of its advertising.

The average Facebook reach for targeted campaigns is 92 percent accurate, Facebook says. For example, Facebook knows it has 30.5 million daily active users in the U.S. who are women between the ages of 18 and 49.

If the video ads work, Facebook will prove it’s morphed from a fast-moving startup into a leading media platform.

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