Facebook Rolls Out Mid-Roll Ads

Facebook_Mid-roll_adFacebook has unveiled a new strategy for its advertisers—mid-roll ads.
The social media giant began testing mid-roll ads in late February.

They now offer the opportunity for advertisers to deliver these five- to 15-second video ads, called in-stream video, within live and non-live videos posted to Facebook.

In-stream video uses audience-based targeting, meaning that viewers of the same video may see different mid-roll ads depending on their interests. Advertisers can choose to exclude their ads from certain categories of videos (such as tragedy and conflict, debatable social issues, mature, etc.) in order to avoid any awkward clashes between video and ad content.

Mid-roll ads aren’t a new concept, but Facebook’s are notable in that they can begin as early as 20 seconds into a video. To qualify to display in-stream video ads, a video must be at least 90 seconds long and ads must be at least two minutes apart within a video.

Live videos have slightly different requirements—the video must be rolling for at least four minutes before an ad can begin, and the streamer must have at least 2,000 followers.

There are a lot of pros to this ad format. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has allowed publishers to make money from branded content in the past, but has always been opposed to pre-roll videos, which are more standard in the industry (think YouTube). Mid-roll ads provide a fresh strategy and an opportunity for advertisers to monetize, which was often difficult with Facebook’s old parameters. The revenue split is 55 percent to the publisher and 45 percent to Facebook. Targeted viewing allows advertisers to reach their exact intended audience. It also makes it easy to A/B test creative concepts and view detailed results using Facebook analytics.

On the other hand, the mid-roll format poses some risks. While many viewers have learned to expect pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads are rare and can be a jarring interruption. Advertisers have to somehow produce creative that doesn’t cause people to get annoyed and abandon the video entirely—a hefty challenge considering consumers’ finicky viewing habits and ever-shrinking attention spans. YouTube, one of Facebook’s biggest competitors, doesn’t even allow mid-roll ads in videos shorter than 10 minutes for this exact reason.

What do you think? Are mid-roll ads an obnoxious fad or an inventive approach to boost engagement? Let us know in the comments.

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