Facebook brings its brand-friendly video ads to its ad network

If an ad can run on Facebook, eventually it’s going to run anywhere Facebook can run it. At least that seems to be the trend.

A week after Facebook brought its retargeting ads to Instagram, it’s bringing its brand-tailored video ads to its ad network of third-party sites and apps, Audience Network. And it’s bringing that ad network to the desktop web for the first time.

Facebook’s Audience Network already ran video ads across publishers’ properties, but those ads introduced last year were aimed at direct-response advertisers. They were less about getting people to watch a brand’s video and more about getting them to click to install the app that the video was promoting.

To cater to brand advertisers, Audience Network will add the option of buying video ads with an intent to get people to watch those ads versus click on some call to action attached to them. To buy ads with these video view objectives, advertisers will be able to purchase them on a cost-per-view basis or set a bid price and have Facebook’s technology figure out how many impressions it would need to serve to hit the brand’s video view goal; Facebook calls this latter way of buying ads optimized CPM (oCPM).

Advertisers will be able to effectively syndicate their Facebook and Instagram video ad campaigns across Audience Network as well. “The Audience Network is going to use the same mobile-optimized creative that advertisers use on news feed today,” said Facebook product marketing manager Brett Vogel. But there are some limitations. Video ads must be at least 10 seconds long and no longer than 30 seconds to run across the Audience Network. And advertisers won’t be able to control where their video ads run within Audience Network, Vogel said.

Facebook is also bringing its ads to more places. Originally a mobile in-app ad network when it launched in April 2014, Audience Network expanded to the mobile web in January, and now it’s coming to the desktop web — sorta.

The brand-friendly video ads can run as a pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll spot within a video player on a desktop or mobile web site or within a mobile app. That marks Audience Network’s inaugural foray into the desktop web world, but it’s only a dipping a toe for now. The in-stream video ads are the only Audience Network ad format eligible to run on desktop sites, Vogel said.

The video ads can also run outside of a video player. Initially that means video ads appearing between within an Instant Article, Facebook’s proprietary mobile article format. Reading blocks of text then coming across a video ad doesn’t seem to be very native, definitely not like encountering one while already watching a video. And that’s counter to Audience Network’s emphasis on ads appearing natively in apps and sites. Vogel said he didn’t have “a direct answer” on the subject.

“The recent history of extending the Audience Network really comes on the heels of a lot of success there,” said Vogel.

That success is tricky to define, at least publicly. Audience Network claimed in January to have hit a $1 billion revenue run rate, but that just means that if Audience Network could take the amount of revenue it generated in a specific period of time and sustain it for 12 months, it would total $1 billion. Vogel also said that the number of publishers in the network has grown by more than 600% in the past year, but he wouldn’t actually say how many publishers are in the network. Going from 1 publisher to 7 would translate into 600% growth. He also declined to say how much of Audience Network’s revenue is shared with publishers.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.