Facebook Launches New Bid to Steal TV Advertising Dollars

Social giant's video-ad views to be incorporated into Nielsen's total rating point (TRP) metrics spanning TV and Facebook

Facebook has a new tool to help Madison Avenue divert money away from TV, and spend it instead on the world’s biggest social service connecting more than 1 billion people on Earth.

The company announced an expanded partnership with Nielsen, under which Facebook video ads will be rolled up into the research firm’s total rating point (TRP) metric. That’s supposed to let ad buyers plan a campaign that spans both TV and Facebook, “and they can buy a share of those TRPs directly with Facebook,” the company explained in a blog posting Sunday evening.

Then, Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings measurement system can verify Facebook’s in-target TRP delivery, while Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings system can verify the TRP delivery for Facebook and television combined.

Expect Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, to focus her talking points on how the company is “complementing” TV at a scheduled Advertising Week session in New York Tuesday morning.

At least publicly, Facebook is positioning the move as a way to amplify — not replace — TV advertising spend. According to a study by Nielsen (commissioned by Facebook) that measured 42 U.S. campaigns, when TV and Facebook were combined, advertisers saw a 19% lift in targeted reach versus TV alone. And when millennials were the target audience, incremental reach increased to 37%, per the Facebook-sponsored research.

However, with Facebook explicitly targeting TV budgets, any increased spending on social as part of a television campaign would likely lead marketers to allocate less overall to TV.

Other bullet points to listen for this week from Facebook execs tubthumping their advertising capabilities:

  • Scale: The company claims that it now has 2.5 million advertisers using the platform, up 25% since February.
  • Video in ‘Carousel’ Ad Format: Facebook now has the ability to play back video ads in a “carousel” ad, which scrolls through multiple horizontal tiles. “Pairing video with the carousel format gives marketers more options for compelling storytelling in News Feed,” Facebook says.
  • Brand-Awareness Optimization Bidding: The company in October plans a limited launch of a new way to buy inventory in Facebook’s auction based on attention (time spent with an ad) and reach.
  • Mobile Polling: Facebook has teamed with Millward Brown Digital to analyze brand lift for Facebook and Instagram for mobile devices, in addition to the mobile partnership with Nielsen it announced earlier this year.

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