What Facebook Video Ads Mean for Small Business Owners

This week, Facebook began rolling out Facebook video ads to users in their News Feeds. There are a couple of things to consider here for potential advertisers:
Time Limit – The Facebook video ads will only be 15-seconds long. Shorter than a TV spot, a YouTube ad, and certainly shorter than the majority of most brands’ video content. So business owners will have to think very carefully about what message they can convey to their users in 15 seconds. Videos that are concise, and laser-focused will perform the best.

Audio Muted– Facebook has also announced that the video ads will be muted by default. For Facebook this makes a lot of sense: From a UX perspective, There’s nothing more frustrating to a user than videos that auto-play and not being able to figure out where or how to shut them up. But from a business perspective, it also allows Facebook to roll multiple video ads at the same time, multiplying the number of impressions that they can bill to advertisers. Corporations will need to think creatively about what kind of video content they can display that will catch a user’s eye without even having any sound.

Not Mobile-Friendly– Ever since major cell-phone providers like Verizon decided to do away with unlimited wireless plansfacebook-video-settings, users have been very protective of how they spend their data. To account for this, Facebook has allowed users to opt out of having video ads auto-play when users aren’t connected to WiFi (which is most of the time when people are surfing Facebook via mobile). Because of this, ad creators need to make sure that the accompanying message is self-sufficient enough without the video, but that the video is still worth watching if it is played. Quite a paradox.

What To Expect

Facebook hasn’t really publicized this, but the initial Facebook video roll-out is only available to advertisers with an annual spend of $1MM or more. This gives small businesses a great opportunity to cheat a little bit and see what the big guys are doing before needing to develop a strategy and creative of their own. Here’s what I expect to see from the big guys:

  • Super short enticing message– The thing that makes Buzzfeed and UPworthy articles so clickable is that you’re sucked in by the title of the article. The lead-ins to video ads will have to be so attractive that not only will you want to push play (on a mobile phone), but you’ll even want to turn the audio on.
  • More Vine, Less TV- These ads auto-play and go by in 15 seconds. I’m expecting the successful corporations to use content that is very creative and edgy, similar to brands kicking butt on Vine, rather than trying to cut a 30-second TV spot down to 15 seconds.
  • Shareable– Viral content is the golden goose. We all know it. Come up with a video that people will WANT to show their friends and you’ve hit the jackpot. You’re racking up the free impressions and achieving exactly what you wanted from your ad campaign.

Day One’s reaction to the video ads from Facebook have been mixed, but just like when Facebook opened up outside of colleges in 2006 and again when they introduced the News Feed in that same year, I have a feeling this is one innovation that all users will eventually learn to accept.


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