Posted in Channel: Video, facebook, Facebook: Advertising, Facebook: Video, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing: Advertising, Video

How video makers are programming around Facebook’s ad breaks

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Videos on Facebook increasingly resemble TV-style programming — until an ad interrupts the video without a natural break in the action. But that’s beginning to change as media companies within Facebook’s video monetization program experiment with when exactly to insert an ad break in a video.

When Facebook began inserting ads in the middle of videos earlier this year, the experience was jarring. A person in a video may be speaking, then is cut off mid-sentence for a commercial. That contrasts with TV, where the programming flows from show to commercial, often with a host announcing the break or a narrative crescendoing to a climax, pausing and then cutting to black.

But, as Facebook has started to air more TV-style programming on its new Watch tab, the media companies producing those shows as well as traditional feed-based videos that are eligible to carry mid-roll ads, or “ad breaks” in Facebook’s parlance, have started to adopt TV-style strategies on how to keep viewers’ attentions through an ad break, as well as their share of the ad revenue from those mid-roll ads.

Facebook has a few requirements governing publishers’ — media companies and individual creators — use of ad breaks. Videos must be at least 90 seconds long, and an ad break cannot begin within the first 20 seconds of the video. But for the most part, publishers that are part of Facebook’s video monetization program have full control over where an ad should appear.

When uploading a video to Facebook, eligible creators can provide time codes for when they would like an ad break to be inserted, said Joe Caporoso, VP of social media at Whistle Sports, which produces sports-related videos.

Balancing content and commerce

Whistle Sports began inserting ads within its Facebook videos four or five months ago, but the company’s execs said it’s still too early for the company to have identified any hard and fast rules regarding where an ad should appear. “I’m not sure there’s a standard” dictating that an ad break should appear within the front or back half of a video, said Whistle Sports’ VP of Content J. LaLonde. “It depends on the format.”

For example, Whistle Sports produces countdown-style videos that list things like the top 25 trick shots in a given sport. In that case, the company would slot an ad after the first five entries because, by that point, it would have established a viewer’s interest in the video but not yet worn out their attention.

“The great modern challenge we have is to balance creative with commerce. We want to honor the time of the viewer while also making money off that video,” said LaLonde.

Programming around — and for — ad breaks

Digital video network Tastemade has also been trying to strike that delicate balance. Before it began inserting ads within its Facebook videos, the food- and travel-centric company’s videos on the social network often lasted around 50 seconds. But that was well short of Facebook’s 90-second requirement for a video to carry an ad. As a result Tastemade “shifted our programming strategy in a material way to have all videos early on be 90 seconds plus,” said Oren Katzeff, head of programming at Tastemade.

That strategy change was as much about ensuring Tastemade could make money from its videos as forcing its producers to develop new formats to better accommodate the longer length and corresponding ad break. In addition to adding steps to single-recipe videos, the company came up with videos demonstrating multiple ways to make a hot sauce or cook a chicken. While making those videos, Tastemade found spots within the videos that naturally catered to an ad break, such as after a dish has been placed in an oven or between recipes, and that viewers were more likely to stick around when ads were inserted at these pauses.

Beyond editing around an ad break, Tastemade has also tested how to produce videos with the ad break in mind. For its show, “Let’s Taco Bout It,” which premiered on Facebook’s Watch tab two weeks ago, Tastemade adopted the show’s late-night talk show format for its ad strategy. The show’s host, an animated taco, calls out when the show is about to cut to commercial. And for “Food to Die For,” which premiered on Watch in August and follows people who do things like dive with sharks to collect abalone, Tastemade waits until an episode’s plot builds to a climax then cuts to commercial, leaving the audience in suspense and likely to stay tuned in after the ad break. “That tends to be something that works,” said Katzeff.

When an ad should appear

“The thought process behind where an ad break goes is as important as any other consideration,” Katzeff said. “If there’s a hole in the storytelling, people can tell. If an ad is unnaturally placed, if you’re forcing it in at the 20-second mark because you want to get it in there just for the sake of monetizing, it’s not going to work.”

That being said, waiting until the end of a video to show an ad isn’t likely to work either. Not only may viewers feel like there will be less of a payoff for staying tuned in at that point, but there are typically fewer viewers as a video approaches its denouement. “When you’re trying to monetize, you want [the ad break] closer to the beginning than the end,” said Katzeff.

However, when it comes to keeping viewers through an ad break, Food Network’s and HGTV’s parent company, Scripps Networks Interactive, has seen the most success when its ad breaks appear later. “We really focus on delaying a little further out where that ad break occurs and that’s been important because we want to make sure that the audience that is there is fully committed,” said Vikki Neil, senior VP and general manager at Scripps Lifestyle Studios.

To help video makers understand when an ad break worked or did not work, Facebook provides companies in its video monetization program with analytics showing viewership retention throughout individual videos, as well as where the ad break appeared, so that companies can evaluate their videos’ watch-through rates, or the percentage of viewers that continue to watch a video after an ad break. Neil monitors the videos’ watch-through rates closely and holds weekly meetings to discuss the latest stats, though she, as well as execs from Tastemade and Whistle Sports, declined to share the figures for this article.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, as of August 2017, when Facebook has inserted a 15-second or shorter ad within videos on its social network and other publishers’ properties through its Audience Network ad network, people watch the ad to completion more than 70 percent of time.


Posted in Channel: Video, linkedin, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing: Advertising, Video

LinkedIn launches autoplay mobile video ads

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LinkedIn has announced a closed beta for testing video ad units as Sponsored Content. This comes just two months after enabling native videos in the LinkedIn Feed. Beta testers include Prudential Financial and Microsoft Canada.

The video ads will autoplay, and appear as a standalone unit with a “Promoted” label to distinguish them as paid content. They are only being tested on mobile at this time.

Advertisers can upload videos through the Campaign Manager, their Company Page, or their Showcase Page and promote them with a Sponsored Content campaign. Audience targeting options will be the same as all other LinkedIn ads, including the Matched Audiences option.

There will be some ad performance metrics available to advertisers in the beta test, including view count and views by the percent of video completed. Several additional metrics and data points specifically for video will be added in the next several months.

This is LinkedIn’s second go-round with video ads. In 2012, LinkedIn launched support for video ads, but the videos had to reside on YouTube and did not autoplay. That ended after a couple of years, before LinkedIn had a solid mobile presence, was bought by Microsoft and video ads became table stakes.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Posted in Channel: Display Advertising, Google, Google: AdWords, Google: Display Advertising, Google: Maps, Google: YouTube, Video

YouTube location extensions & in-store visits measurement come out of beta

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In May, Google shared details of a beta program for location extensions and store visits tracking for YouTube. On Tuesday, Google announced the features are now generally available.

While the number of ad extensions available for Google search text ads keeps adding up, the addition of location extensions marks the first time ad extensions have become available for ads in YouTube. The location extension appears in a card below the video ad that includes a map, store hours and address and links to the website or for directions.

youtube location extensions

The extensions will show on TrueView in-stream and 6-second bumper ads.

Google’s store visit measurement will then report on how effective the video ads are at driving traffic to those locations. Launch partner iHop said in a statement that it has been able to use location extensions in YouTube to drive visitors for less than $1 per guest.

Google has been expanding its store visits measurement capability to more advertisers and says it has measured more than 5 billion store visits globally. Facebook has also been building store visit measurement capabilities and recently announced stores can retarget visitors when they browse Facebook.

To get location extensions to show with YouTube ads, enable the extensions within those campaigns from the Extensions tab in AdWords.

Earlier this year, Google also added a location extension ad format for display ads.


Posted in Augmented & Virtual Reality, Channel: Video, facebook, Facebook: Oculus VR, Social Media Marketing, Video

Live from Facebook-owned Oculus’s annual VR conference: Day 2

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Welcome to the second day of Oculus Connect, the Facebook-owned virtual reality company’s annual developer conference.

During yesterday’s opening keynote, execs from Oculus and Facebook made a series of announcements, ranging from a new standalone VR headset to a redesigned interface that pulls desktop apps into the VR environment to new features bridging Facebook’s traditional social network and its VR version.

Today’s keynote is expected to be less newsy. Oculus CTO John Carmack — the famed game programmer behind “Doom” — will take the stage and hold forth on whatever is on his mind (the keynote’s title is “Carmack Unscripted”). The keynote is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, and you can follow along in our live blog below.


Posted in Augmented & Virtual Reality, Channel: Video, facebook, Facebook: Oculus VR, Facebook: Video, Social Media Marketing, Video

Live from Facebook-owned Oculus’s annual VR conference: Day 1

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Virtual reality has largely remained stuck in the future, posing a dilemma for marketers. But Facebook-owned VR company Oculus is expected to bring more of that future to the present at its annual developer conference, Oculus Connect, which kicks off on Wednesday in San Jose, Calif.

Below is our live blog of the event’s opening keynote, which starts at 1 pm ET/10 am PT.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened the keynote and announced Venues, a platform to watch live sports and concerts in VR that will launch in 2018.
  • Zuckerberg unveiled Oculus Go, a standalone headset that will cost $199 and ship in 2018.
  • Facebook’s head of VR Hugo Barra announced Oculus for Business, a program to get companies using VR. For $900, companies will receive a bundle of Oculus equipment, including a headset and controllers, as well as a commercial license, commercial warranty and preferential customer service.
  • Oculus will drop the price of its high-end Rift headset plus Touch controllers to $399.
  • Oculus will make its next-gen Santa Cruz headset and controllers available to developers next year.
  • Oculus will roll out a redesigned user interface, called Oculus Dash, in beta later this year. It is designed for touch.
  • Oculus Dash will let people use desktop computer apps inside of VR.
  • Facebook will roll out live 360-degree video to the VR version of its social network, Facebook Spaces, later this year.
  • Facebook will add a 3D posts format so that people can share objects created in VR as interactive posts on Facebook. Eventually these objects will also be available for use on Facebook’s Camera Effects augmented reality platform.

Posted in Channel: Video, How To Guides: Social Media Marketing, How To Guides: Video Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing Column, Video

4 myths about video social media marketing, debunked

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Social video is hot, and with good reason.

Today, we’re watching four times more Facebook Live content and 80 percent more video content on Instagram than we did a year ago. YouTube reaches more people between the ages of 18 and 49 than any cable or broadcast TV network, and that’s on mobile alone. More than 60 percent of marketers say they’re increasing their video marketing budget this year, and by 2021, video is projected to account for 82 percent of all internet traffic, according to Cisco.

Since it’s clearly here to stay, it’s time to debunk some common myths associated with social media marketing with video.

Myth #1: Beautiful video requires proprietary footage and professional editing

Many businesses hold back from investing in video because of the idea that social media-friendly content requires proprietary footage and a professional editor. After all, it’s expensive to get high-quality equipment and shoot and edit the video to create the final product.

However, when you use advanced DIY platforms like WeVideo or Promo by Slidely, these barriers to entry are effectively removed. Using Promo’s library of over 2 million beautiful, professionally shot video clips with a lifetime license and music options included, you can enjoy the benefits of video marketing without breaking the bank.

slidely promo

Quickly emerging as a go-to solution for small business marketers, solopreneurs and early-stage startups with their sights on the social media newsfeed, Promo makes it easy to add your logo and text titles to videos as well. Say goodbye to expensive software, service providers and equipment — and to production cycles that are so long that you can’t keep up with the speed of changes on social media.

Myth #2: All mobile-friendly video needs to be vertical

For a long time, marketers have believed that on mobile social apps, people only have patience for vertically oriented video frames. This myth echoes the erroneous conventional wisdom of years past, when we all asserted that desktop website visitors don’t scroll, so we should all make sure to place calls to action “above the fold.”

As long ago as last April, Facebook published a recommendation that brands switch to square video content uploads, citing experiments they’d run which demonstrated superior ad recall performance. Clips designed with the 1:1 ratio have been shown to increase completion rates by 67 percent, according to social media agency Laundry Service, meaning that more people will watch your videos from start to finish. And Buffer recently published the results of an experiment where they found that square video drives more social media engagement, regardless of the audience’s device.

mobile vs deskto

This makes a lot of sense. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social platforms with newsfeeds will crop a vertical video so it doesn’t take up too much real estate as people scroll through, but they don’t crop the square ones, which means that this aspect ratio is your best bet for maximizing newsfeed footprint.

Myth #3: YouTube is dead

With an increased number of video-sharing platforms — Facebook, Twitch, Periscope, Instagram, Vimeo and Snapchat, to name just a few leading ones — it’s easy to see why some would believe YouTube is dead. Sure, it still makes headlines, but as the first big community-driven video platform on the block, some people think it just doesn’t have the same sex appeal as the newer players.

But the data shows that this sentiment is misguided. YouTube remains the most popular online self-serve video distribution property by a long shot. From desktop devices, the Google-owned property attracts over 150 million unique viewers per month, according to comScore, compared with Facebook’s 94.6 million.

Luckily, you don’t need to choose one over the other, as it’s possible now to distribute video content to multiple platforms at once. Tools like TubeBuddy help make this process easier.

Myth #4: Videos should never be over 3 minutes long

Humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, according to conventional wisdom. You’d think that makes the case for short videos, right? And while short videos have their place in the mobile social world, there’s room for longer content, too. This one reminds me of the never-ending debate over the optimal number of lead capture form fields. Sure, more people will complete it if you minimize the demands on visitors, but if you do have more, then the ones who make it to the end will be self-selected to be really into you.

Facebook data shows that impact on ad recall, brand awareness and purchase intent increases alongside video view duration. On the other hand, the same study found that people didn’t have to watch an entire video for these performance metrics to rise — even views that lasted under 10 seconds yielded rises in awareness and purchase intent. A study from Wistia, meanwhile, found that viewer engagement with video content does start to taper off once the three-minute mark passes, but then it plateaus again, with the next engagement drop arriving after 12 minutes of viewing.

engagement vs length

Ultimately, your video should only be as long as it needs to be. Focus on making the video valuable, and the engagement will follow.

If you can hold your audience for beyond three minutes, you’re likely to keep them for up to eight more. If you’re doing this on Facebook, mind you, it’s possible to even create a custom advertising audience based on the high-intent viewers who made it past the three-minute mark – or whatever view duration benchmark you want.

Future-proof your content marketing with video

People love video because it gives them the freedom to consume the content they want to see, on the channel they want to see it, and on the schedule that’s most convenient for them. It’s fast, compelling and easy to digest.

Getting involved with video content on social media can be daunting for many brands, but knowing the truth about what works can help a great deal with your friction points along the way to success.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Posted in A-Post to Search Engine Land, Accelerated Mobile Pages, Channel: Display Advertising, Display Advertising, Google, Google: Critics, Google: Display Advertising, Programmatic Advertising & Media Buying, Video

Google extends olive branch to publishers, lays out new focus on subscriptions

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In a rare joint appearance, Google executives Philipp Schindler, chief business officer, and Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads and commerce, addressed a group of several dozen publishers and broadcasters at an event held at the company’s Chicago offices Tuesday. And, at that event, he extended an olive branch.

In his opening remarks, Schindler said Google returned $11 billion in ad revenues to publishers last year, while acknowledging, “We also know it has not been easy.”

Everyone in the room knew that one key reason publishers have had difficulty generating ad revenue is that Google and Facebook draw some 80 percent of the growth in digital ad dollars directly. But Ramaswamy said there are limits to what the ad ecosystem can do for publishers, adding that the industry must focus on both ads and subscriptions. Schindler said Google is committed to building out subscription programs and plans to significantly ramp investment in this area.

“We come in peace…We are all invested in seeing you [publishers] succeed” — Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler

The “leadership summit” came a day after Google announced the end of its decade-old First Click Free program in response to years of publisher complaints about the requirement to offer free access to content in exchange for Google rankings. Instead, Google said it will offer Flexible Sampling programs that give publishers more control over the subscription process without being penalized in the rankings for putting up paywalls.

Schindler touched on the three elements of Google’s new focus on subscription efforts:

  1.  Google will use machine learning to determine when to present a subscription offer instead of an ad on publisher’s sites to users deemed likely to subscribe. The system will also use publishers’ audience data to build lookalikes much in the way Google does in ad targeting, to identify new potential subscribers. This is in very early testing now, and it’s unclear exactly how this will look.
  2. Reduce friction in the subscription signup process with mobile-optimized checkout flows. Again, Google is doing something similar on the ad product side with Purchases on Google ads enabled with Android Pay. In a briefing last week, Google VP for News Richard Gringas said all subscriber data would be passed to and owned by the publishers.
  3. Help users get more from their subscriptions to boost renewal rates. For example, users might opt in to share subscription information with Google. Content from publications a user subscribes to may then show higher in Google search results for that user. Ramaswamy stressed this is “early days.”

Facebook announced this summer that it will begin testing ways to let publishers sell subscriptions in Instant Articles and place content behind a paywall after a user reads at least 10 articles.

In framing the new focus on helping publishers drive subscription revenue, Schindler said, “We come in peace,” as he splayed his fingers in the Vulcan peace sign, clearly anticipating publisher skepticism at Google’s motives. “We are here to listen to you. We are all invested in seeing you succeed.”

“We deeply value the publishing ecosystem,” said Ramaswamy later. “It’s also selfish on our part,” he acknowledged, “because Google is nothing without quality information.” Ramaswamy said Tuesday’s announcements are part of a long and ongoing effort. “The advertising ecosystem has been profitable for Google and publishers, but there are limitations. We need to pay attention to subscriptions and commerce.”

Schindler told reporters that details on how the subscription advertising program will be structured in terms of revenue splits haven’t been decided. “The plan isn’t for this to be a huge revenue driver or the next big business or Google,” he said. It could be a revenue share or some other model, but the idea isn’t to push this much beyond cost covering, said Schindler.

Why the olive branch to publishers? “I think what you’re seeing is an arc, but we also hear the feedback that this is a tough transition,” said Ramaswamy. In his talks with publisher CEOs, they kept asking, “How can you help us with subscriptions?”

Attendees at the event included representatives from Vice, The New York Times, NewsCorp, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Network and Pandora, among others. The overall attitude seemed to be cautious optimism.

Other announcements made Tuesday include plans to give publishers insights into their audiences based on Google’s own data, which can then be used to package audiences in direct deals sold through DoubleClick, “insights cards” about revenue, latency, viewability trends within DFP and new brand safety controls.


Posted in A-Post to MarTech Today, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Channel: Video, Video

USA Today Network’s VR ad studio head: We’ve shown there’s an audience for VR ads

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USA Today Network’s in-house studio, GET Creative, developed 360-degree/virtual reality branded content for Pure Michigan promoting travel and tourism to the state.

For the USA Today Network, virtual reality and 360-degree content is more than just hype. It’s becoming a revenue driver.

For roughly a year and a half, the Network has been working with advertisers to develop immersive branded content that can be distributed across its media properties.

The effort is spearheaded by the GET Creative unit, which launched in March 2016 as an in-house agency charged with executing projects for advertisers that can be promoted in all media that the USA Today Network operates in — including virtual reality (VR). The Network consists of over 90 local media properties and the flagship USA Today, reaching a combined audience of more than 100 million consumers in the US, according to the company.

GET Creative’s first project was for Honda. The team used VR to promote the carmaker’s ultrafast two-seat Indy race car. The branded VR experience put consumers in the passenger seat of the Indy car, rounding a race track at 200 miles per hour.  That project “showed there’s an audience for VR,” said Kelly Andresen, SVP and head of GET Creative at USA Today Network, in a phone interview.

Most recently, the team launched a 360-degree campaign for Pure Michigan to promote travel and tourism to the state. Viewers can “look around” at the various points of interest profiled in the video.

Experimenting with turnkey VR-specific ad formats & measurement

In addition to branded content opportunities, the Network is experimenting with ad formats designed specifically for VR environments. The first is what the company calls a “cubemercial,” which puts the users inside a room or cube in which advertisers can project videos and other creative assets on all four of the “walls.” The aim is to make this entirely new format turnkey for advertisers by incorporating brands’ existing creative assets.

The Network has partnered with Nielsen to measure the impact of VR on brand metrics. “It’s an amazing medium for advertising,” said Andresen, “likely because it’s so immersive people remember the content and VR has a 2x brand recall compared to TV.”

The studio takes a multiformat approach: creating true VR content that requires a headset like Google Cardboard, Oculus or Samsung Gear VR and 360-degree content that can be distributed across mobile, desktop and app and does not require a headset.

“The multiformat approach expands reach, and we see 360 as a gateway to true VR,” says Andresen.

What’s holding VR advertising back?

Interestingly, scale isn’t what Andresen mentions when asked what needs to happen for VR ads to become mainstream. “We have seen growth in true VR reach and expect to see more with the lower price points and variety of headsets available,” she said.

Instead, she named two critical things that still need to happen for VR advertising to truly take off:

We need new words.

First and foremost, says Andresen, is the need to establish a common lexicon for VR. There is no way to describe a “shot list” and story line to a client, for example, and the point of view for the story line now depends on the user’s frame of reference. The entire industry — producers, story tellers, clients, agencies — needs to be able to communicate.

We need a standard that can scale.

Second is the need for standards for VR ads and one experience that can scale. “All of us are challenged to really think creatively here. I wouldn’t want us to default to things like pre-roll. That’s not a great experience and we know this. An intrusive ad experience in VR is particularly bad because users have nowhere to go. . . Product placement is an interesting approach, but there is a challenge for scale because it’s so specific to the context,” says Andresen. “Our first foray borrowed heavily from linear video, but we see more [opportunity]. Can we move to a standard that’s scalable? Branded content has been a solution in that has filled a void.”

Google introduced an early VR ad concept this summer, and startups like Immersv and Outlyer Technologies are early entrants working on VR advertising.

There is no lack of client interest, says Andresen. Initially, clients are seeking education on the size of the opportunity and capabilities. Budgets are different for every client, with some pulling from video budget, some have an innovation budget, and some — she points to Lexus’s work with Saatchi & Saatchi’s Team One agency — have already made the investment in VR and are just looking for scale.

For its part, Andresen says, GET Creative is in position to  grow adoption of this new medium that could end up changing our perceptions of advertising.


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