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Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Video Ads

Published: January 9, 2014

Author: James Scherer

Video Ads

They’ve been planning it, floating the idea, testing the waters, and pushing the release date since January of last year. But now it seems to be happening: Facebook Video Ads are here.
Are you interested? Should you be? Will Facebook Video Ads be right for your business?
In this post, I’ll take a look at the new Facebook Video Ads. I’ll break down what they’ll look like and how much they’ll cost, and I’ll give you my prediction for the future.
Let’s get started.

How they work

 In what Facebook is calling a ‘richer storytelling format for advertisers,’ they’re rolling out 15-second video ads. The videos will appear in the same format as Facebook Posts, with the video playing where the image has been traditionally. Think of it as a sponsored video post (though substantially more expensive)

They’re auto-play, which means that as Facebook users are scrolling down their News Feed, the video ad starts to play (without sound). The video ad will stop playing if they keep scrolling past it – and sound will only start if they click on the video ad or make it full-screen.
The ads are currently available to a select number of brands, individuals, and musical groups. The first one (which came out on the 17th of December) was a trailer ad for the upcoming blockbuster Divergence.
For mobile users, the videos that begin playing as they appear on the screen ‘will have been downloaded in advance when the device was connected to WiFi’. This means, basically, that Facebook Video Ads will not consume data – even if the user isn’t connected to WiFi at the time of playback.
Once the 15-second video is done, two more links pop up with videos from the same brand – similar to at the end of a YouTube ad or video.
At the moment, they’re only targetable by age and gender demographics. This is, of course, in comparison to traditional Facebook ads, which offer incredibly specific targeting.

Here’s what they’ll look like:

Video Ads look like

Wait, they cost how much?

Hang onto your hats: they cost between 1 and 2.5 million dollars per day for a 15-second video ad. And, as yet, they’re only available in the U.S. This means that video ads will only be (possibly) seen by the roughly 140 million U.S. Facebook users aged 18-54.
This number is surprisingly high – and most media buyers, advertisers, and social media experts are somewhat thrown off by it. Here’s why: YouTube video Ads on the homepage cost around $400,000. The YouTube homepage receives about 60 million views from 23 million unique visitors per day.
YouTube’s video Ads are auto-play as well, both on the homepage and in the cheaper pre-video location. And if anything, they’re harder to disengage with. With Facebook Video Ads, you simply have to keep scrolling down, whereas YouTube Ads have to be actively skipped or closed. So we’re talking about a very similar system, with a similar target market and, tops, a 100% increase in reach for Facebook Video Ads over YouTube video Ads.
Yet we’re also talking about a 250-625% increase in price for Facebook Video Ads over YouTube Ads.

So what gives?

Well, it’s pretty clear we’re still in the testing stage of Facebook Video Ads. The prohibitive price, the limited market, not to mention limiting the advertisers to a few brands, individuals and musical groups makes that pretty clear.
But, for me, they’re definitely something to keep a close eye on. Video advertising is going to be big in 2014. The visual aspect of marketing (something I took a close look at before the Christmas break) is growing as marketers discover its huge potential.

My Predictions for Facebook Video Ads

1. Targeting:
Though at the moment no better than you get with a YouTube Ad, targeting will be – undeniably – better when Facebook Video Ads become more widely available. We know Facebook has all the targeting capabilities, so I’m sure they’ll start integrating better targeting soon.
This will be as awesome for video ads as it is for side-bar and traditional News Feed ads. This means targeting a video ad for a new horror movie at people who have stated they love horror movies. This means targeting a video ad with a sneak peek at your upcoming webinar to people who have attended your webinars before or have stated they are interested in the subject matter.
2. Cost:
Cost will go down. A lot. In this testing stage, they’ve priced it up so intensely that they can keep track of results and test formats, advertisers, and everything else.
While you’re not going to see a PPC Facebook Video Ad, you will see the price drop to be more competitive with YouTube’s video ads. I imagine the price will also change based on your chosen Reach (targeting by specific interest, for instance, will be cheaper than targeting by gender or continent).
Even so, we’re not going to see much below $500,000 for a long time, if ever. Remember, SuperBowl XLVIII is charging 10 times that price for their 30-second TV commercial slots – and the Reach for Facebook Video Ads is almost 20 times larger.
3. Reach:
728 million active users log in to Facebook every single day, and there are 1.19 billion monthly active users. Once Facebook Video Ads get over the growing pains we’re seeing at the moment, the Reach of a Facebook Video Ad will make the price (once it goes down a bit) far more sensible.
4. What the Time Limitation will mean for Advertisers:
Video ads mean you have to get creative, and Facebook’s 15-second slot means you have to get creative fast.
Unlike YouTube videos (the mass-majority of which are over 30 seconds – and the most successful over three minutes), Facebook’s 15-second gap is reminiscent of their affiliate Instagram’s videos. It’s an interesting length, actually. I think we’ll see a lot of behind-the-scenes clips and sneak-previews.
Instagram videos offer video stabilization and editing (and I’m sure Instagram’s owner, Facebook, will do the same). This means Facebook Video Ads will be higher quality than Vine, for instance, and the short format means they’ll be glimpses into something exciting happening in your business.
Offering these video ads, initially, to movie-makers and bands makes sense. These industries work well with the whole idea of an intriguing 15-second clip.
5. Will they be Better than Traditional Facebook Ads?
Not for a while. The PPC pricing, the awesome targeting capabilities, and the ease of creation of traditional Facebook Ads make them hard to beat.
Video Ads will, for a while, be used exclusively by the corporations and companies for whom a single $500,000 ad isn’t their ad budget for the next five years.
But this is okay. I’m not convinced that video ads will ever make a whole lot more sense than traditional ads for small business. There are so many awesome ways to reach your target market and generate leads with content marketing, traditional ads, and social media that I’d focus on those avenues that work (and will continue to work) for your business.
For small and mid-sized businesses, I’d steer clear from investing in Facebook Video Ads before they become more reasonably priced – especially when there’s so much more to learn and more to do in 2014 with existing online marketing avenues.
What do you think? Are you excited about Facebook Video Ads? Start the conversation below!

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