×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Facebook Now Selling In-Stream Spots Separately From Newsfeed, Looking to Siphon Off More TV Ad Dollars

Facebook is taking yet another step to grab bucks from television advertising budgets.

The social colossus, which counts more than 2 billion monthly active users, starting on Thursday will let agencies and marketers opt to buy video ads specifically for in-stream placement on Facebook, on its Audience Network of third-party publishers and apps, or across both.

Until now, Facebook has only sold those in-stream ads — which are midroll breaks in longer-form content on the service — as part of larger buy that included video ads that pop up in the Newsfeed.

Why the change? “It’s to let agencies and brands drive the most value from their spending,” said Kate Orseth, product marketing manager for media monetization at Facebook. She continued, “It’s really rooted in consumer behavior and what we’re seeing unfold. We see a lot of short, on-the-go video consumption in Newsfeed, and longer-form, lean-back viewing on Facebook [Pages] and offsite via Audience Network.”

To translate: Facebook is making it easier to buy TV-style ads, as it looks to bump up TV-style content on the platform.

Popular on Variety

Facebook now has a critical mass of inventory to serve in-stream ads as units separate from Newsfeed, according to Orseth. (The company requires videos to be at least 90 seconds long to be eligible for a midroll spot.) Several hundred of publishers and content creators are employing midroll ad breaks today; those include ATTN:, Business Insider, NowThis, and Tastemade.

As with all its advertising, Facebook sells the inventory. With in-stream ads, it shares a cut of revenue with publishers. Ad buyers can set demographic targets for the audience they want to reach. But they can’t specify which content they want their spots to run against (although Facebook offers a “brand safety” tool to let marketers blacklist sources they don’t want their ads).

Ultimately Facebook wants to bring thousands of creators of longer-form episodic shows to Watch, as part of its strategy to spin the video-ad flywheel. Last week, the company launched a beta test of Facebook Watch, which includes a new tab and features to help users discover and engage with more longer-form video content — on mobile, PC and connected TVs. In addition to content produced by dozens of partners, Facebook will put shows it has funded on Watch (which include Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor”; Condé Nast Entertainment’s “Virtually Dating”; and LaVar Ball’s “Ball in the Family”) but those haven’t launched yet.

Facebook says in-stream ads (which can be 5-15 seconds) on both Facebook and Audience Network perform well: More than 70% of those ads are watched to completion. It declined to provide a comparable metric for Newsfeed video ad completion rates, which Facebook says “varies based on the creative and the length of the video.”

Another proof point: NBCUniversal’s Syfy in May 2017 ran a campaign exclusively using in-stream ads for its rebranding initiative to expand its programming scope. The campaign generated an 11-point lift in ad recall and a four-point lift in message association (compared with people who didn’t see the ads) and an average view-through rate of 83%.

On Facebook in-stream video ads are available only as midrolls; they can be bought in both preroll or midroll placements on the Audience Network. Advertisers that have run campaigns with Audience Network exclusively include Innocent Drinks, TD Bank, Warners Brothers Germany and Universal Music (for the U.K. release of Lana Del Rey’s new album, “Lust For Life”). The Audience Network includes mobile web publishers like Vice Media, USA Today, Univision Communications, Washington Post, Forbes, and Daily Mail and app publishers like Pretty Simple. The company doesn’t disclose the total number of partners.

Meanwhile, in a wonkier change to drive up viewing time, Facebook earlier this year tweaked its algorithm that determines which video content shows up in users’ Newsfeeds to favor longer-form content.

The upshot: Look for Facebook to push longer-form video content — which, it’s hoping, will be fully stocked with ads.

More Digital

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Creators Worried and Confused Over New Kid-Video COPPA Rules, Potential Fines

    YouTube starting this month is requiring all creators, regardless of location and whether or not they produce content intended for children, to designate whether their videos are made for kids. And many YouTubers are concerned that the new rules will hurt their monetization — or even expose them to fines if their content is mislabeled. [...]

  • A LITLLE LATE WITH LILLY SINGH

    Lilly Singh Mocks Disney Plus 'Outdated Cultural Depictions' Warnings for Racist Movies

    Lilly Singh lampooned Disney Plus’ disclaimer that certain older movies include “outdated cultural depictions” on her NBC show. The YouTube and late-night TV comedian took issue with Disney’s euphemistic phrasing — pointing out that the warning is really about the “racist” tropes in decades-old movies that were made for kids. Disney Plus includes “a bunch [...]

  • Sacha Baron Cohen

    Sacha Baron Cohen Rips Into Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for Spreading Lies and Hate

    Calling social media “the greatest propaganda machine in history,” and the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube “high-tech robber barons,” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen used a speech given to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) this week to call for much more stringent regulation of internet companies. “By now, it’s pretty clear they cannot be trusted to [...]

  • Liza Koshy

    Liza Koshy to Host Dance-Competition Series — With a Moving Dance Floor — for Quibi

    YouTube star and comedian Liza Koshy will preside over a dance-competition reality series coming to Quibi — a kind of mashup of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Wipeout.” In “Floored,” two opposing teams of skilled dancers will try their best to perform a routine while the dance floor itself actually lifts, tilts, drops, [...]

  • Instagram tests hiding likes

    Instagram Hiding Likes: U.S. Users Have Mixed Emotions About the Move, Survey Finds

    Instagram this month began a test to hide “likes” for U.S. users, and last week the social platform announced that it will be rolling out the change everywhere in the world. The move ticked off some big influencers, including Nicki Minaj, who said on Twitter that she’s going to stop posting to Instagram because of [...]

  • Neal Kirsch

    Former OWN COO Neal Kirsch Joins Gaming TV Network VENN (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN) is staffing up ahead of its 2020 launch: VENN has hired former Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and Discovery Networks executive Neal Kirsch as its new COO & CFO, the company is scheduled to announce Thursday. Kirsch served until late 2016 as the COO & CFO of Oprah’s [...]

  • Spotify Awards

    Spotify Is Launching Its Own Music Awards, Based on Streaming Data

    Spotify has set plans for its first-ever music awards — with the winners based entirely on user-generated data. “Your plays, patterns, and habits will help determine the award categories, finalists, and winners for the Spotify Awards by providing a true reflection of what fans are listening to,” the company said in announcing the program Friday. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content