NBC Is First TV Network to Buy Facebook Video Ads (EXCLUSIVE)

Peacock launches campaign on social site promoting midseason shows 'Rosemary’s Baby,' 'The Night Shift' and 'Undateable'

Rosemarys-Baby zoe saldana

NBC launched a broad video-advertising campaign on Facebook to promote three midseason shows — “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Night Shift” and “Undateable” — becoming the first television network to use the social media company’s autoplay video ads.

The Peacock is looking to build awareness ahead of the TV premieres later this month, and Facebook is the biggest and best place to do that, said NBCUniversal VP of media Kjerstin Beatty. The social site now averages more than 150 million daily active users in the U.S.

“Facebook — the scale alone there — the ability to deliver as many eyeballs as we’re doing today, it’s really hard to find that anywhere else,” she said in an interview. The video ads are like a regular Facebook ad promo “on steroids,” Beatty added.

The NBC campaign kicked off at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Wednesday and runs for a 24-hour period. The ads will show up in the newsfeeds of all adults 18 and older on Facebook. Facebook and NBC aren’t putting a dollar figure on the deal, but Facebook is charging around $1 million per day for such broad campaigns, sources confirmed.

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For Facebook, the new Premium Video Ads are an attempt to capture TV-size ad dollars with the lure of offering targeting capabilities — as well as reach — that television can’t match.

The social giant kicked off a test of the Premium Video Ads last December for Summit Entertainment’s “Divergent,” and in March said it was opening up the product to a select group of marketers. The first official campaign, from Progressive Insurance, went live Tuesday.

The video ads “autoplay” when a Facebook user scrolls through his or her newsfeed, but the sound is muted by default. As with any new form of advertising, the approach risks irritating users: NBC’s promos have already garnered a few negative comments (“Why can’t I get this crap off my timeline,” one commenter said) but generally reaction has been favorable.

Beatty said NBC will evaluate the effectiveness of the Facebook video ads in the short term on engagement and metrics like number of shares. Longer term, the programmer will try to determine the overall impact on awareness for the featured shows.

“Given the popularity of Facebook and how many brands and advertisers are using it, we can’t rely on organic reach alone anymore,” she told Variety.

Facebook is competing with Twitter for marketing bucks from TV programmers and other entertainment companies. Still, networks aren’t fully convinced social media delivers on its promises: In fact, NBCU research chief Alan Wurtzel last week said in an interview with Financial Times that social media “is not a game changer yet” in terms of lifting TV ratings.

NBC’s Facebook ad for “Rosemary’s Baby,” which stars Zoe Saldana as the demon-impregnated titular character, is posted here. The four-hour mini-series bows May 11 on NBC. The network’s 15-second ad for medical drama “The Night Shift” (premiering May 27) is here, and the teaser for comedy “Undateable” (which preems May 29) is here.

Facebook says it sells and measures Premium Video Ads in a way that’s similar to TV advertising, based on targeted gross rating points (GRPs) to reach a specific audience over a short period of time. Delivery is measured by Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) service, and advertisers only pay based on the impressions OCR measures.

According to Facebook, it can predict and deliver with 99% accuracy a campaign’s total audience reach and the amount of times an ad was seen. Advertisers also have the ability to buy video ads by daypart (like TV), choosing specific time periods when ads run.