Have you ever found yourself in a conversation you didn’t want to be in? That’s exactly how it feels to be bombarded with unsolicited ads.
When people surf social media—such as Facebook—their primary intent is to connect with friends, or be entertained. Same thing goes for users who click on online videos: It means he is interested in the video content itself. More often than not, no one appreciates an interruption to that.
But that’s exactly what an in-stream ad on Facebook does.
What Are Facebook In-Stream Video Ads Anyway?
Going back to the days when the internet wasn’t yet as prevalent, television was every home’s entertainment box. Catchy TV commercials were part and parcel of our lives. We didn’t have the option to skip these ads. Commercials would play as long as you’re tuned in to that same channel. The only way to escape those pesky ads was to switch to another channel, or take commercial breaks as cue to—you know—take a short break.
These days, it seems that the same inescapable commercials have followed us into the age of the internet, only this time, they're more annoying.
In case you haven’t experienced them on Facebook (can we hide under the rock you've been hiding under too?), the best comparison could be the ubiquitous, non-skippable video ads on Youtube. The difference is, you don’t know when Facebook in-stream video ads will creep up. Instapage’s Stephanie Mialki defines it best:
[Facebook in-stream video ads] allow advertisers to deliver 5-15 second, non-skippable, mid-roll video ads to people who are already watching Facebook videos on a mobile device. Since these ads don’t appear until at least 60 seconds into the main video content, people are actively engaged in ‘lean-back’ watching mode, and the ad is just like a commercial break for the actual video.
Facebook In-Stream vs. TV Ads vs. YouTube In-Stream
Here is a summary of key differences in Facebook ad delivery, compared to other mediums.
|Facebook In-Stream||Conventional TV Ad||Youtube In-Stream|
|Appears within a video or webisode||Usually appears several times in between segments of a show||Appears within a video or webisode|
|Unexpected||Expected||Can be expected|
|Unskippable/cannot be paused||Unskippable/cannot be paused||Unskippable/cannot be paused|
Why Do Marketers Choose Facebook In-Stream Videos?
So, if the delivery is less than ideal, why do marketers use Facebook in-stream videos?
As we know, users turn to Google to search for something: whether it is to get information, find an online store, or perhaps research about particular products before purchasing. But increasingly, Facebook has served this purpose, too. In a survey conducted by digital marketing firm G/O Digital, 62% of respondents use Facebook in order to find out a local business, as opposed to 12% that use Pinterest, and 11% Twitter.
This indicates that increasingly, people are turning to Facebook as a way to discover businesses, or as a repository of information guiding purchase decisions.
When we pair that potential for business discovery with the massive amount of videos being consumed on the platform (over 8 billion videos are viewed on average daily on Facebook vs 5 billion videos viewed on YouTube daily), this proves to be too irresistible a concoction of captive audiences seeking to discover brands, to ignore, for marketers.
That could be indicative of why digital marketers choose to advertise on Facebook. Besides being a great way to connect with friends, it has also become an avenue for businesses to connect with their customers.
As for in-stream video ads? These 4 are what marketers aim for with this type of advertisement:
- Increase Visibility or Online Presence. To do that, they have to be viewed. And of course, when the ad is within the video and it cannot be skipped, there is no other choice for the users but to watch it. How shrewd!
- Build Brand Awareness. This is usually and ideally the first phase of an advertising campaign. It is where advertisers get to introduce themselves to clients, whether they’re a new brand or an existing one that plans to launch a new product line, this phase is very important.
- Expand Reach. Be able to gather as many unique users as possible.
- Get Engagement. Basically to get the users to interact with the brand; may be in the form of comments, reactions, and shares.
However, do these marketers realise that these ads can potentially harm their brand simply because they’re... annoying?
Are In-Stream Video Ads a Bad Marketing Move?
If you use Facebook Ads Manager, you already know how to target people from different locations, age brackets, interests, job title, and many more. (We discussed how to do just that in this #digitalmarketing piece.)
And while digital advertising platforms have categorised users according to their interests, keyword searches, online behaviour patterns, and the like—there are still a number of times when we, advertisers, become unaware of the users’ sentiments on the ads we make.
Does it make any impact on them?
Or do they just see our ads as annoying?
Advertising is much like storytelling. You don’t engage your readers by giving away the plot twist in the first few pages. You basically start with an introduction, when you intend to capture the reader’s attention and interest enough that they feel compelled to read on.
That same principle applies to Digital Marketing. Let’s reference the 8-Step Process of Crafting Digital Marketing Strategy of Digital Marketer, which tells us the “process every prospect goes through to become a new customer.” We won’t go into this process in detail, but it would be good to know at which stage of the journey we should approach our customers with Facebook in-stream ads.
The journey basically looks like this:
The customer’s journey, according to the Digital Marketer
At what stage should you come in with your in-stream ads?
We go with “advocate”— the seventh stage of the eight-point process.
It is at this point that the time is ripe for your brand to flash un-skippable content for your online targets.They are already aware of who you are, what you can do and offer, and have even purchased one or two things from you. Here, you are assured that you already have their trust, and possibly, their loyalty.
Most importantly, you lower the risk of turning off users with your in-stream content.
Other Marketing Options You Can Explore on Facebook
Aside from Facebook In-stream video ads, there are a lot more options that a marketer can utilise in order to get to their customers or desired audience. Putting into consideration what we have learned, it is essential that we do not distract people from their online activity. If you are looking into the same objectives listed above, here are a few other Facebook video advertising forms you may want to consider:
Vertical Video Ads
These are also called sponsored video ads. It can be found in-feed: it can appear on a user’s news feed as they browse and scroll using their device. This video ad can be less pushy as compared to in-stream. Uninterested users may just leave the video at any point by simply swiping up or down. Its advantages for both users and marketers? Users can easily leave the ad if it doesn’t interest them; while marketers can easily identify who among their audiences are interested.
Instagram Stories Ads
While not every Facebook user is on Instagram, the Facebook-owned network is still a great channel for businesses to target younger markets. Opting for this, one can deliver a video, a static image, or even an animated ad. Unlike sponsored video ads on Facebook that appear vertically on a user’s feed, IG stories ads appear horizontally, which users may swipe left (if uninterested) or view as they wish.
I would like to describe this ad as a combined concept of the vertical and the Instagram Story ad. It is a vertical ad in the sense that it appears on the vertical view of one’s feed, and similar to an IG story, one can swipe left or right to see more options, products, or features. You may use a combination of a video and an image; can also be purely of videos; or purely of images. This way, we can maximise the ad space by showing more. We can also see which frame our audience interacted with least, and most.
While we cannot fully control how users feel towards our digital ads, we still have tools and options that allow us to know and hear their experience of our brands, while taking into consideration marketing principles and user psychology to deliver compelling (and non-annoying) advertisements to our users.
Fortunately, there is a plethora of guides and studies we can reference and pattern our advertising campaigns on (such as this). Aside from that, there are many other options we can explore in case one advertising form fails to deliver.
After all, every campaign is a living test from which we can gain a better understanding of a vague and vast digital world, with a seemingly voracious appetite for uninterrupted video.
This is our digital marketing blitz: Check out our other pieces as we bring you digital marketing insights from specialists in the field.