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I know that as a marketer and editor, I’m supposed to objectively view all platforms equally and present advertising updates as opportunities that are useful for various clients, but I can’t help but giggle a little at Facebook video ads.
THE happening buzzword of 2014 is native advertising. Now that people are finally figuring out ways to define it, they’re starting to use these ads to their advantage. Marketers are enjoying this shiny new toy and are moving away from garish banner ads and link-building campaigns.
Native advertising is popular because it’s so content heavy. By nature, the content of a native ad matches the site that it lives on. It blends seamlessly with the other videos or articles or infographics on the site. In fact, if it wasn’t explicitly labelled an ad, most users would think it was just another organic post.
While sites like BuzzFeed and the New York Times get all the glory for leading the way in native advertising, it has started to seep into social media. Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram have all integrated ads that blend with their platforms and provide interesting content to users. Many have called this type of paid post integration our future.
Meanwhile, Facebook rolls along and announces that video ads will be the latest and greatest on its platform. They anticipate these garish ads that have nothing to do with the rest of the content on the site will be a smashing success. A smashing success for their revenue stream, maybe, but not really for marketers.
To be fair, Facebook has come a long way in its introduction of video ads – and it’s had about a year to develop and perfect the system. Last April, Facebook started sending out teasers regarding video ad development. These ads were going to cover the entire screen and prevent users from doing anything else unless they sat through the 15-second video.
The summer launch was delayed until fall, and the fall launch was delayed until winter, until a few months ago when Facebook started testing the ads with a select group of users. This beta testing, and a year of tweaking, has brought us to its current state. They autoplay without audio when users reach them in the News Feed, and can be enlarged and play sound when people click on them. The ads don’t cover the entire screen unless users actually want them to, and can be largely ignored as long as we all keep scrolling past them.
Ladies and gentlemen, buying these ads will still cost your company $1-2.5 million per day.
Every once in a while we see a really cool ad that plays before a YouTube video and then read blog posts about why it was successful. The inevitable message is that marketers just need to be creative and think outside the box and then customers will be willing to watch your pre-roll ad, or click on your banner, or engage with your pop-up.
The problem is that 98% of the time marketers aren’t creative and they don’t think outside of the box, that’s why the creative ads get acknowledged. They’re something no one else was able to do.
A powerhouse brand like Doritos or BMW that is known for its video advertisements and has the budget to shell out a few million ad dollars a day might be able to create engaging Facebook video ad content, but most companies that are able to afford the hefty price tag will probably treat the platform the same way they treat auto-play on other sites. The rest of us will continue to share our brilliant ideas and viral videos on YouTube and smaller sites, the budget-friendly old-fashioned way.
Facebook video ads are coming, but not even marketers and advertising bloggers should get excited.