Facebook is preparing to inject more short-form ads inside videos found on the social network as it makes an effort to try and increase profit from advertising. Doing so might require it to break tradition.
For years, Facebook executives have said they don't want to run pre-roll ads on videos. These are ads that play before the main video begins, similar to what's happening on monetized content on YouTube. Avoiding such ads is a smart move. First of all, users hate them, and second of all, users hate them.
But Facebook is going to start running pre-roll ads.
Facebook Is Testing Pre-Roll Ads
Pre-roll ads will run the length of a Vine video and will only appear on Facebook's dedicated "Watch" hub, at least for now. Facebook Watch, for the uninitiated, is the site's separate section for watching Facebook videos, sort of like a mini YouTube right within the social network. Facebook rolled this out recently given how popular videos have become.
It will start testing the ad format next year, as Ad Age reports. Some videos already employ mid-roll ads, which, as the name suggest, deploys ads in the middle of a video. They're seemingly not generating enough revenue for publishers and advertisers alike, though, and perhaps Facebook succumbing to pre-roll ads is an admission that mid-roll ones just aren't sufficiently profitable.
Speaking of mid-roll ads, Facebook has a renewed strategy with regard to this format. They won't appear until later in videos, and they'll only run on long-form content — videos must at least be 3 minutes long to be eligible for a mid-roll ad break, up from the previous 90-second threshold, as The Wall Street Journal reports.
News Feed Algorithm Changes
While videos with pre-roll ads won't appear in the newsfeed, there will still be some changes to how content in the newsfeed is prioritized. For instance, Facebook is updating its ranking system to increase the distribution of videos people are actually seeking out rather than just stumbling upon. These videos are also the kind people come back to and watch again.
From the changes mentioned above, what Facebook wants is pretty clear: make more money from ads and encourage publishers to keep making videos — longer ones, at that, so as to be eligible for pre-roll ads. It's a calculated move, that's for sure. Ads are annoying, yes, but Facebook is betting that users won't mind that if the videos they see are ones they actually want to watch.