- Facebook is testing upfront buying for advertisers with packages of genre-based video ads that they can buy across Watch, video and Audience Network — similar to YouTube’s Google Preferred program.
- Brands can also target one show with ads, starting with three of Watch’s most popular programs: “Red Table Talk,” “Ball in the Family” and “Returning the Favor.”
- Advertisers now have the option of only paying for 15-second views across all Facebook platforms.
A year into rolling out its Watch video tab designed to house long-form and polished content, Facebook thinks that its big video ambitions are ready for prime time — or at least prime-time advertisers.
Over the past few months, a small group of advertisers and their agencies have started testing reserved buying within in-stream video placements on Facebook, Business Insider has learned.
That’s markedly different from buying ads within Facebook’s automated ad auction — the self-serve product that powers billions of dollars’ worth of spend from millions of advertisers.
Video is increasingly flooding Facebook’s platform and with that, advertisers have asked for more control over which videos their ads appear in and the option of reserved buying — much like TV ad buying. The idea is that advertisers will have more assurance that their ads will only appear alongside premium video content using Nielsen’s Target Rating Points (or TRPs).
Facebook is going big with Watch — and thinks it can bring in bigger ad budgets
Facebook recently flipped the switch on Watch to roll it out globally, which opened up a new crop of video inventory for creators and publishers to potentially make money from. Meanwhile, Facebook has been slowly rolling out pre-roll and mid-roll video ads to places where it sells “in-stream” inventory in Watch, non-Watch videos and its programmatic-like Audience Network over the past few months.
“In parallel with launching Watch and rolling that globally, we’ve been expanding in-stream video ads,” said Kate Orseth, Facebook’s media monetization product marketing director. “We’re hearing from these types of buyers — premium online video and TV — that they want to plan and buy in a way that looks and feels similar to how they do on other mediums.”
Orseth declined to name which Facebook Pages are part of the program or how much inventory reserved buying covers. Facebook says that every video placed into in-stream reserved is reviewed by a human before it’s eligible for ads, which is similar approach to YouTube’s top-tier Google Preferred program.
“It’s intended to be the most engaging, highest-quality content that we have and we look at a number of signals when we think about inclusion for publishers and creators — popularity, how many people are watching intentionally, how loyal are they,” she said.
Put another way, Facebook is telling advertisers that it has better targeting and at least some ad inventory that is on par with that found on TV.
Ad buyers want to be able to make baller moves on Facebook
Media buyers have long asked for the ability to buy specific shows, and Facebook is opening up a sliver of its original programming to test doing so. Advertisers who either want to exclusively sponsor one show or cap their ads to one program can run them in three of Facebook’s most popular programs: “Red Table Talk,” “Ball in the Family” and “Returning the Favor.”
Brands can also choose categories of video programs to buy ads around like “fashion,” “beauty,” “sports,” and “entertainment.” Again, like Google Preferred, the categories are based off of the content of a video as opposed to targeting an audience of users who show an inclination toward certain content, like sports videos.
Advertisers have already been able to buy “affinity audiences” on Facebook but the new categories are more akin to buying a genre of programming.
Don’t expect for Facebook to have a full-blown upfront soon
Reserved buying is the same way that TV networks have sold so-called upfront deals for decades with splashy presentations designed to win over ad buyers. The idea is this: In exchange for locking down a package of ads, advertisers can get access to special, targeted inventory that’s harder to find once TV season begins. It also allows advertisers more flexibility to negotiate prices and terms of deals because they’re committing to spend a certain amount with one company.
“It diversifies our ability to place a client’s message next to quality content,” said Danisha Lomax, Vice President and director of paid social at Digitas. “We’ll always pair this with what we do on the auctions if we want to get more granular with targeting, but it’s great to have a suite of Facebook products that we can bring in front of our clients and leverage.”
Digitas-owned Publicis Media has tested in-stream reserved buying with Facebook and a spokesperson said, “from the initial results, it looks promising.” According to another source, Omnicom Media Group has experimented with buying Facebook video upfront.
Facebook said that Nationwide Insurance has also tested the buying option. “As Nationwide’s media mix has evolved to account for new mobile consumption habits, it’s become increasingly important to ensure our in-stream ads run against premium content on mobile platforms like Facebook,” said Jennifer MacKenzie, svp of marketing for Nationwide.
Facebook also wants to prove that its views are legit
A couple of years ago, Facebook had a rocky history with advertisers when it comes to measuring ads. As a result, the platform has increasingly added more third-party measurement and accreditation of its metrics through the Media Rating Council, which is the ad industry’s standard for measurement.
Big brands like consumer-packaged-goods and automakers that crank out TV ads with big storylines that build their brand image are particularly keen to make sure that they’re paying for an accurate number of views.
To that end, Facebook is rolling out what it calls ThruPlay, which allows for marketers to only pay for videos that are watched either for 15 seconds or until completion across all of its video products. Those placements include in-stream, stories and feed videos on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network. It is available through Facebook’s auction and is being rolled out to all advertisers globally.
Buick is one advertiser who has tested ThruPlay. Mallory Woodrow, social and CRM lead at Buick said that the view option helped achieve “greater efficiency, scale and completion rates,” for its videos.