Ad Breaks on Facebook? The Future of Video Advertising

Videos on Facebook more and more come to resemble TV-style programming — until an ad interrupts the video without a natural break in the action. But that’s about to change as media companies within Facebook’s video monetization program have begun to experiment with when exactly to insert an ad break in a video.

Facebook originally began inserting ads in the middle of videos earlier this year, but the experience was jarring. A person in a video may be speaking, then is cut off mid-sentence for a commercial. That contrasts with TV, where the programming flows from show to commercial, often with a host announcing the break or a narrative crescendoing to a climax, pausing and then cutting to black.

But since Facebook has started to air more TV-style programming on its new Watch tab, the media companies producing those shows as well as traditional feed-based videos that are eligible to carry these sorts of ads, have started to adopt TV-style strategies on how to keep viewers’ attentions through an ad break, as well as their share of the ad revenue from those mid-roll ads.

Facebook has a few requirements governing publishers’ use of ad breaks. Videos must be at least 90 seconds long, and an ad break cannot begin within the first 20 seconds of the video. But for the most part, publishers that are part of Facebook’s video monetization program have full control over where an ad should appear.

When uploading a video to Facebook, eligible creators can provide time codes for when they would like an ad break to be inserted. Over time, these changes to the way ads are rolled out on platforms like Facebook and YouTube will begin to influence the style of video that works well in those spots. Video production companies will naturally stay on top of changes in the industry like this, but individual businesses may find it harder and harder to adapt self-made advertising content to work online.

That said, advertising using video on Facebook is increasingly becoming a key part many organisation’s marketing strategy. According to a Facebook spokesperson, as of August 2017, when Facebook has inserted a 15-second or shorter ad within videos on its social network and other publishers’ properties through its Audience Network ad network, people watch the ad to completion more than 70 percent of time.

With stats like that, its not hard to see why professional video content is becoming more valuable than ever to stand out in a crowded marketplace.