Facebook is an excellent way to get information out to a marketer’s target audience, if the audience is on the site. However, recently companies have had a hard time knowing who is viewing their videos, how long they are being viewed for, and how successful the video is in catching their interest. Reports have shown that the descriptions of audience numbers that Facebook has been giving to advertisers were inaccurate, and Facebook has been trying to fix its inaccurate measuring methods and save their reputation as a go-to vehicle of communication. Facebook has apologized for overstating the measured video viewership, but claimed the errors are not monumental since metrics is not involved with billing the advertisers. Since these reports about the social network overstating the size of monthly audiences by more than twice the actual amount were released, the ad industry has wanted more openness from Facebook. They have ensured more transparency by relying on third parties to verify its numbers and to work with companies to show more accurately the number and length of views. Agencies have also insisted on knowing how successful their ads perform on other websites, how often their competitors run ads, and how long most people actually use Facebook on a daily basis.
Facebook video has otherwise proven to be a very effective mode of advertising. With the ability for users to easily share videos, the chance of these advertisements going viral increases. Facebook has recently been focusing a lot more on its live video product. They have been paying BuzzFeed $3.05 million per year to publish live video, as well as The New York Times and CNN. These heavy amount of resources going towards the development of Facebook Live shows how much the social network relies on it to be successful. Facebook has also been trying to convince companies to jump to Facebook Live. This has been a tough feat since it is hard for companies to make high quality videos on the fly.
Facebook Live has not been as successful as they anticipated as of now. The livestreams posted by big media companies like NBC only make up 15% of the top 200 most-viewed live videos since it has started—the majority is posted by celebrities and public figures. However, in regular Facebook video, the media companies are the most-viewed.
Rather than just cramming more ads onto the site, an act known as “ad load”, Facebook has decided to focus on perfecting the art of advertising through video. They believe that the more viewers want to watch videos on Facebook, the more willing they will be to sit through an ad. Since the increase of videos, users have been proven to spend more time on the site.
Facebook has been working to sell space to marketers by creating many different options in selling video advertising spots. First of all, advertisers are able to purchase through “sound-on” buying, meaning they have the option to only pay when the video plays sound. Facebook videos typically show up on mute and automatically plays, but if the advertiser chooses, they are only charged if the viewer plays sound. A large part of this stems from the pressure from Snapchat, where advertisements have volume on 70% of the time. Another option for advertisers is “completed-view” buying, meaning the advertiser only pays when the viewer gets to the end of the video. Many advertisers choose this because they do not think an ad makes a completely valuable impression unless watched fully. Facebook also plans to show marketers how long people watched down to the millisecond in addition to how many people watched.
Facebook will also display the number of milliseconds where half of the ad was on the screen as well as the amount of time the whole ad was on the screen in two different categories to provide more accurate data. In addition to the other buying options, there is also “two-second” buying, which means 50% of an ad’s pixels are in view for two continuous seconds or longer.
Facebook videos are also able to target specific demographics better than other sites, and is continuing to improve. A huge amount of growth was shown in 2015, when the amount of video in the news feed increased by 3.6 times—and more than half of daily U.S. visitors watch at least one video per day according to the company. Overall, Facebook is trying to improve video targeting to ensure that the right users see the right ads.
Facebook has truly adapted to the changing world of advertising. No longer will consumers sit quietly through an ad, taking in every piece of information. In this “on-the-go” world, Facebook has evolved to make ads more relevant to every individual consumer. By using an individual’s search engine information, Facebook is able to connect the answer-seeking consumer with a brand or company to help them. In this way Facebook is challenging and altering traditional media businesses.
This success can be seen in the $7.44 billion brought in the three months to the end of 2015 alone, and more recently the $26.9 billion in ad sales brought in 2016; a 57% increase from 2015. 84% of this revenue comes from mobile ads, showing companies that consumers are no longer found sitting at a TV, passively receiving information, but instead on the go, actively searching for information.
Even in their success, Facebook is continuing to make improvements in their upcoming years. Facebook is working to allow marketers to measure viewed advertising instead of served advertising. Served advertising means that the advertisement had been on a page that the consumer viewed. In order for something to be considered viewed advertising, the user would have to scroll to the part of the page where the advertisement is in view. Using this method of measurement would make advertising analytics much more reliable, because what’s the point of measuring an ad that a user may have never actually seen?
In another attempt to make sure users come across advertisements, Facebook plans to include mid-roll commercials inside live and non-live videos. This would create another way for brands to connect with users. However, many consumers tend to block out ads, so marketers worry that Facebook live viewers will not fully engage with the ad content. Marketers also worry that the ad could be aired at an inappropriate time mid-roll, and that it could be seen as controversial if viewed during a controversial video. Overall, Facebook plans to have control when and by what means a consumer witnesses a brand message or ad, thus changing the traditional means of advertising.