In a controversial move that counters Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on pre-roll ads, Facebook will join the ranks of Hulu and Youtube and begin testing them at the beginning of videos. Previously, Facebook has only experimented with mid-roll ads but with the company’s advertising growth, soaring costs, and the inception of the ‘Watch’ video tab, they are re-thinking their advertising strategy. The ‘Watch’ tab is meant to be more of a Youtube rival and less of a disruption on the news feed so viewers might be a bit more willing to sit through pre-roll ads that play before Facebook’s new funded content. This news also arrives after viewers have expressed their displeasure with those bite-sized mid-roll ads that interrupt videos. According to a news release by Adage,
“There have been comments from viewers about how annoying the ads are,” says one publishing executive, who works with Facebook on shows and spoke on condition of anonymity. “They say they would rather watch pre-roll than watch a video and be interrupted.”
Announced on August 7th, 2017, Facebook’s Watch platform will revolutionize the way users connect with each other through long-form video content. Facebook is dead set on funding and promoting episodic content created by TV studios, celebrities and other internet influencers that follow a theme or storyline and that will keep viewers coming back for more. Viewers will be able to like, comment on, and share video content and form watch groups with each other for mutually loved shows. As Facebook starts to build Watch it’s only natural that they borrow Youtube’s tactics and implement pre-roll ads. The fact that these ads won’t be a major disruption to the news feed might also explain Zuckerberg’s turn-around to the new ad strategy.
Initially, Facebook’s implementation of pre-roll ads might get some push back from users suffering from ad fatigue but it does potentially open up some doors to content marketers. Short pre-roll ads equate to a high volume of views because viewers have no choice but to watch an ad before they get to their video and brevity is typically more well received by viewers. Creating an impactful pre-roll ad also requires some strong creativity. Marketers and designers can play around with animations, interactive surveys, graphics, and whatever else it takes to get viewers on landing pages. However, if a pre-roll ad is too long the viewer might get bored, annoyed, and/or refresh the page or locate their content elsewhere. Like all content, pre-roll ads must also be engaging enough to pique the viewer’s interest. It’s important to remember that people are not watching an ad because they want to, it’s just something they have to get through to get to the content they really want. Creating an emotionally appealing or downright hilarious ad can make the ad watching experience a little better, get you quality clicks, and most importantly, it can put you in good favor with viewers. Finding a balance between engagement and brevity is easier said than done but it’s well worth the effort to rack up lots of worthwhile views and generate revenue and clicks for your branded content.
Facebook is the biggest social networking site in the world and with pre-roll ads, content marketers can see their advertising efforts pay off much more than they would with mid-roll ads. If Facebook’s Watch platform grows to become a formidable Youtube competitor, those pre-roll ads could be a worthwhile expense not only for advertisers and developers, but for content marketers looking to earn customer loyalty. Facebook will begin studying how users respond to the pre-roll ads within the next few weeks and the ads will start appearing on ‘Watch’ shows as soon as they go live.
Adage.com has the full report