By Hope Horner
If you’re on Facebook, you may have noticed advertisements kicking up in the middle of videos in your news feed.
With the introduction of mid-roll ads at the beginning of this year, Facebook is making a move to start monetizing its video traffic, partly for its own benefit and partly for the benefit of the publishers that supply the site with videos. The latter group gets 55 percent of all ad sales, which mirrors the split YouTube offers its publishers.
These ads are somewhat controversial. For advertisers, they are a very useful means of reaching a precisely calibrated audience, but the interruption of the mid-roll ad can seem a little invasive to users and content creators alike.
We Interrupt Your Regular Programming…
Mid-roll advertisements will be placed at least 20 seconds into video playback, when viewers are already invested in what they’re watching and less likely to abandon the video. Preroll ads that play at the beginning of videos on sites like YouTube are often skippable, so Facebook is clearly looking to help advertisers get the most out of their budgets.
If its mid-roll advertising launch goes well, it will actually generate changes in the types of content publishers are producing. Up until now, the trend has been videos that are getting shorter and shorter (think Snapchat’s 10-second clips). But in order for a video to feature a mid-roll ad, it must be at least 90 seconds long. So, for those content producers whose videos typically hover around the 60-second mark, profiting from ad sales will require a longer native Facebook video.
Mid-roll ads could be a sensational new innovation for advertisers, though, as long as they're done right. With that in mind, here are four tips to help you make mid-roll magic:
1. Pinpoint who does — and doesn’t — see your video.
You can select the kinds of content you want your mid-roll ad to appear within. Imagine your ad features a new hiking boot. To make sure the right people see it, you’d choose categories like “outdoors” or “nature,” which your target demographic is most likely to enjoy.
What’s more, you can exclude ones that aren’t necessarily relevant. The “politics” category, for example, wouldn’t be a good choice for a hiking boot ad. Facebook users, whose profiles contain a treasure trove of personal information that marketers can use to precisely target certain audiences, have grown accustomed to seeing advertising that corresponds with their interests and have little patience for irrelevant ads.
2. Start embracing sound.
Traditionally, Facebook videos in the news feed have automatically played on mute. This move reflected a preference by users for muted video ads or, perhaps more accurately, an aversion to loud ads suddenly blaring as they scroll. Until now, ads have been viewed without sound unless the user specifically chooses to turn it on.
With mid-roll ads, viewers have watched at least 20 seconds of a video, which means they’ve likely already turned the sound on. In this context, a silent advertisement might come across as a bit odd. Use this opportunity to engage the auditory senses of your audience. People are used to consuming Facebook ads on silent, so using sound also gives you a chance to be more creative.
3. Make every second count.
In typical Facebook video ads, you have about 15 seconds to convey vital information about your product and brand to the audience. Why? Because when Facebook users watch at least a quarter of an ad — especially those that run less than a minute total — they are more likely to finish it.
Viewers are more likely to watch a slightly longer mid-roll ad all the way through because they want to resume the video in which they’ve already invested 20 (or more) seconds of their precious time. However, it’s still vitally important to grab their attention quickly and get your message out early on in your video.
4. Repurpose existing ads for mid-roll.
Producing videos can be an expensive undertaking, and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Look at the video marketing content you’ve already created, and stretch those investments by repurposing previous ads to meet multiple demands — including Facebook’s new mid-roll advertising.
Make adjustments to past content to maximize its effectiveness for mid-roll. You could boost the power of a silent video with sound or add more important details into a 15-second barebones ad. Beyond the mid-roll, you can post short excerpts of your prior video ads to social media or use still shots from your ads to develop an instruction manual or a digital whitepaper by overlaying the images with text.
The options are endless! The more you can reuse video content, the better ROI you’ll see.
Knowing as much as you can about where your ads are going, when they’re being played, and who’s seeing them will help you leave a lasting, favorable impression, generate leads, and maximize your returns.