Platform Spotlight: Week of January 16, 2017
January 17, 2017
Starting today, we’re going to share a weekly update to give you the latest in platform news and updates, advertising opportunities and other happenings in digital and social.
Facebook Rolling Out Mid-Roll Video Ads
Facebook Video is taking a major step, monetization. Now, videos on Facebook will be able to generate money for publishers with mid-roll advertisements. These mid-roll ads can be inserted 20 seconds into any video that lasts at least 90 seconds, which is a shift from YouTube, which typically runs videos prior to videos, some of which are skippable after five seconds.
The mid-roll ads will be limited to 15 seconds. Facebook will keep 45% of mid-roll ad revenue with publishers taking in the remaining 55%, the same split as YouTube.
The new mid-roll ads come after Facebook tested the ad format in Facebook Live videos last year.
The introduction of ads into videos makes Facebook Video much more attractive to publishers. Now, they have a monetary reason to invest in creating content for the platform. It also opens up a new way for brands to share their video ads in alignment with content consumers show they care about. And with ads not showing until at least 20 seconds in, publishers will be pushed to make their content as engaging as possible to keep audiences watching. That, of course, should be closely watched by YouTube, which relies on a similar process with its pre-roll ads.
Instagram Testing Ads Within Stories
Instagram is looking to monetize one of its core features, Instagram Stories. Currently, it is testing video ads which display in between Instagram Stories, as well as live and “formerly live” videos. Advertisers participating in the test have the option to exclude certain content from featuring their brands.
The ads will be sold in an automated system on a CPM basis and targeted by age, gender, location and other factors. Beyond that, brands using Instagram business tools will be able to start viewing data related to their Stories, which will help from an optimization and effectiveness standpoint. Brands will be able to track reach, impressions, replies and exits associated with their Stories.
This announcement comes in tandem with Facebook making a larger effort to monetize its video content with mid-roll ads. It also comes when Instagram revealed that it has 150 million daily users of Instagram Stories, which is a sobering stat for Snapchat, which has 150 million daily active users worldwide of its entire app, not just a single feature.
Instagram’s approach to ads is much like Snapchat’s, which also includes ads in-between Snapchat Stories. But this also gives content creators on Instagram a reason to stay on Instagram versus moving over to Snapchat. For its part, Instagram brings a high degree of targeting, thanks to Facebook’s trove of data.
The big challenge with this rollout, as well as Facebook’s, will be giving brands confidence that their ads won’t show up amongst content they’d rather not be associated with.
Snapchat Introduces New Ad Products
Ahead of an IPO, Snapchat has moved quickly to build a robust ad ecosystem with everything from shoppable ads to an ads API. It’s not stopping there, though.
It now has deep-linking and web auto-fill, both of which will be incredibly helpful for ecommerce brands as well as subscription services. Now, Snap Ads, can be swiped up for a link to be displayed that users can tap to be taken out of Snapchat to a new app, such as a product page for commerce ads as well as songs in music apps. The next update, auto-fill, lets users fill out lead-gen forms with a tap of the screen after seeing an ad. This is a much more streamlined process than filling out personal information manually, which could be particularly helpful for auto brands, membership services and business-to-business companies.
These new ads are a bit of shift for Snapchat, which has been firmly in the build awareness camp in its ad offerings. These are much more about direct response, which will be attractive to a certain and important segment of advertisers.
The move puts Snapchat more on parity with Facebook in terms of what it can offer and how advertisers can leverage the platform, something that will be critical when it goes public.
Facebook Extends Dynamic Ads to User Web Activity
Facebook’s dynamic ads are getting more… dynamic. Up until this point, dynamic ads from Facebook were used to retarget users with ads that featured products a user may have looked at on a retailer site or app.
Those dynamic ads are expanding to allow for targeting based on web activity, so a user who has been looking for a product across multiple retailers could be served up an ad by a specific advertiser. Those users don’t have to look for that product on the retailer’s app or website to be targeted as they had to before.
That allows retailers to reach new customers who may be interested in a particular product but don’t have familiarity with the retailer. The retailer can introduce themselves to the consumer through the product they’ve shown interest in.
To participate, advertisers must upload a catalog of products they plan to promote and then select an audience. Facebook then looks at traffic patterns and matches users up to the ads.
Facebook Launches Journalism Project
Facebook has a new initiative that focuses on local news, new ways to tell stories and methods of combating hoaxes and fake news called the Facebook Journalism Project.
According to Facebook, the project includes collaborating with news organizations to learn how to be a better partners and collaborate on product development. In the process, it hopes to educate Facebook users on “news literacy” by working with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and others. Facebook will launch “certificate curriculum” with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies that journalists will be able to complete in an effort to give them a better understanding of how to use Facebook.
This tone of collaboration comes after Facebook was highly criticized for its role in spreading fake news, which Facebook initially pushed back against but later acknowledged. Now, it’s taken steps to allow users to report fake news as well as hired a head of news partnerships.
Beyond greater collaboration, Facebook has a new way for publishers to share news with a magazine-like layout. It lets publishers select several Instant Articles and package them together with a cover image or video. Users can then swipe through the articles and like them, comment or share individual articles. In addition, they can subscribe to receive notifications when new ones are released.
The layout is much like that offered by Snapchat Discover and is in testing with ten partners, including USA Today, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Fox News.
Facebook definitely went from taking a hands-off approach to news to taking one that is very hands-on. At the moment this is public relations, but if Facebook can implement some of these changes, it could have a powerful effect being as its one of the primary places people get their news today. The key for Facebook will be creating a mutually beneficial relationship between publishers and itself, and it appears to be doing that through these new partnerships and tools.
- Taylor Wiegert, Planning Director, UX Strategy