Facebook Is Testing Mid-Roll & Livestream Video Ads: What It Means

Facebook is getting into the mid-roll ads game with a confirmed beta test of the ad placement.

This comes on the heels of confirming testing ads in live streams, making many wonder if they’re still trying to draw some dollars away from YouTube.

Mid-Roll User Experience

Facebook has confirmed they are testing the video unit as being non-skippable for the first five seconds it runs.

A countdown circle will appear to the left (marked in the image below), and after 5 seconds,  a “Skip” button for users will appear, much like the experience that exists on YouTube.

The mid-roll ads themselves can last for 10-15 seconds.

Current ads are eligible, in all normally supported objectives.

YouTube’s current rules are that a video must be at least 10 minutes for a mid-roll ad placement to be eligible, but Facebook has cited no such length requirement as of yet.

They have not commented on the future of the beta.

“We’re testing skippable mid-roll in-stream ads and evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it further.” – Facebook

Livestream Ad Tests

Facebook is also testing multiple ad formats on in-stream content, opening up potential new revenue sources for content creators.

The test is running on a small group of publishers that are pre-vetted, and include placements for pre-roll, images below the stream, and a mid-roll ad that bumps the live stream to a smaller window until the ad is over like this example:

Advertisers concerned about the placement can exclude them as an option, or add publishers to a blocklist.

Why Is Facebook Testing All This?

Facebook made moves to try and plant a flag in longer-form video, but it hasn’t quite happened.

Analysts watched the launch of their Watch feature in the app, curious to see if it would steal market share from YouTube.

It hasn’t, with Facebook confirming on the Q4 earnings call that most video is still simply confirmed in the News Feed.

However, that hasn’t deterred them from moving forward on testing ways to monetize video, and most of these beta tests are very reminiscent of the user experience on YouTube.

What Is Facebook’s Plan for Video?

Speculation about adoption failure of Watch has been a topic since it launched, with many believing the lack of a standalone app or the ability to stream through a TV being part of its issue.

On the Q4 earnings call in January, Zuckerberg stated that was not ever really their intention, indicating it was always just meant to be a bolt-on of sorts.

“You can think about the content acquisition that we do there as more along the lines of either marketing or bringing new people into the experience. We’re not building out a subscription service or anything like that around this.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The staleness of Watch growth was also compounded by slower-than-anticipated adoption of IGTV, the longer form video extension of Instagram.

Facebook’s Video Content Creation Shift

Despite Facebook increasing its content budget for Watch from $1 billion to $1.4 billion, they are not planning on pushing forward hard on producing scripted, original content.

They will be putting it more toward licensing clips from major networks, and things that are cheaper to produce.

This latest test of live stream ads noted above also indicates an effort to woo content creators, something that has typically been the flagship offer for creators to go all-in on YouTube.

Image credits: Facebook