Leading social network website Facebook have announced plans to sell TV style video adverts on their home page. The ads are planned to appear within the personalised newsfeed section of the site, and will to an extent at least, work to replace the sponsored stories adverts.
The ads will be priced on a ‘per day’ basis, coming in at £3M plus for a days slot across a target demographic. The social network has had a long running battle with advertising since its inception in the 2000’s. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long been known to dislike internet adverts, and resisted placing any ads on Facebook at all for a number of years post-launch.
Ultimately though commercial pressures pushed the company to launch standard display ads, originally down the right hand side of the screen. By 2011 the adverts performance was so low that the ads click through rate (an internet advertising measure looking at how many users click on ads) had fallen to 0.005. Whilst regular display adverts on online websites have been falling, many web publishers were and are experiencing ad click through rates of 10-100x that figure.
Thats not been the only problem for Facebook. They recently were threatened with a mass advertiser boycott. The positioning of major brands alongside suspect content led to leading ‘brand advertisers’ threatening to pull out entirely. At the time Facebook promised a full investigation, which would conclude with a set of updates from Facebook to appease the advertisers who’re the lifeblood of their network.
The launch of Facebook TV ads is the first of these updates. Their most prominent advertisers include American Express, Coca Cola,
Ford, Diageo and Nestle, all of whom are expected to be among the first to try to take advantage of the video adverts.
All of those advertisers are big spenders on TV, and all are known to favour the use of compelling video content to drive brand awareness as opposed to the static ads that Facebook have traditionally offered.
That said, this is not going to be a whole-scale change n approach from Facebook. Sources indicate that they will proceed with extreme caution, aware that any radical changes could upset their users. Facebook users are notoriously sensitive to updates on the social media platform, notably due to the immense amount of time that users spend on their and their subsequent familiarity with every aspect of the site. The company are already fighting to keep the vital early adopter market, and Facebook are keen to ensure that they don’t push more users towards the door.