Facebook Video Ads

Facebook is giving publishers the opportunity to monetize their video content.

That's welcome news to a number of marketers who share videos on the Facebook platform but, until recently, have been unable to earn a single penny for their effort.

Here's what you need to know about Facebook video ads and how video will dominate the future of Facebook.

"Mid-Roll Ads"

The new ads are offered in "mid-roll" format. That means, unlike with YouTube, the ads won't play at the very beginning of the video.

Apparently, Zuckerberg and company are under the impression that pre-roll ads are just too much of a disruption to the user experience. They're probably right. It's likely that countless users would bail on watching a video just because they don't want to wait for the pre-roll commercial to finish.

So here's how the mid-roll ads work: any video that's at least 90 seconds in length qualifies for a commercial 20 seconds in. That means publishers really need to "hook" viewers in the first 20 seconds if they want them to sit through a commercial to watch the remainder of the video.

Earning Money

Once upon a time, Facebook kept all the revenue generated from video ads. But that was during an initial testing phase.

Now, it's almost a 50/50 split. Facebook keeps only 45% of the revenue generated from ads and gives the remaining 55% to the publisher.

If that breakdown sounds familiar, that's because it's the exact breakdown that YouTube uses.

The Natives Were Restless

The reason that Facebook is enabling monetization of videos is because publishers were complaining that they weren't seeing any income from the creative works even when some of those videos were viewed millions of times. It just didn't seem right.

BuzzFeed, in particular, complained to Facebook that its viral videos weren't producing any revenue.

Further, some publishers were devoting considerable resources to their videos. That means they were spending a lot of time and money on projects that generated absolutely no cash flow.

That's why some organizations just abandoned the idea of producing videos completely.

Now that Facebook is enabling publishers to earn money from videos, two things are likely to happen. First, they're going to make more videos, knowing that they can make money off of them. Second, they're going to upload those videos to Facebook.

That's a win-win situation for everybody. The publishers earn more money and Facebook gets free content while taking almost half of the revenue.

It Started a Couple of Years Ago

Two years ago, Facebook moved aggressively to show videos to its user community. By 2016, Facebook users were watching 100 million hours every day.

However, Zuckerberg vetoed the idea of pre-roll ads. So no money was forthcoming to publishers.

In 2015, Facebook created a separate video section and allowed some publishers to share revenue from video ads.

Last year, the company allowed publishers to create videos sponsored by advertisers. That enabled some publishers to rake in cash.

Finally, Facebook tested the mid-roll ads. That seems to be the winning formula, but time will tell if users will keep watching past the 20-second mark.

News Feed Videos

The mid-roll ad format will premiere in all types of videos hosted on the Facebook platform. That includes videos in the news feed.

Also, Facebook has telegraphed that it would run mid-roll ads in live videos and other video formats during the beginning of this year.

As a result of its new ad policy, it looks like Facebook is taking a different approach to how it counts a video "view."

In the past, the company counted a view as any time a user watches the clip for at least three seconds. Some people thought that wasn't fair, especially considering that Facebook automatically plays videos as people are scrolling through their news feeds.

Now, the ads only play once a user has watched the clip for at least 20 seconds. That means Facebook is likely to adjust what it counts as a view.

More importantly, videos will have to keep users attention for a while if publishers want to make any money from them.

Video Will Change the Future of Facebook

As we've seen, Facebook started aggressively promoting video content a couple of years ago. That initiative is still ongoing and likely to have effects for years to come.

In the wake of Facebook focusing more on video, non-video content is receiving less and less attention.

According a study published last year by NewsWhip, likes, comments, and sharing of linked articles from top news sites declined sharply as Facebook moved to an emphasis on video content.

At this point, Facebook doesn't seem to be alarmed by that drop. Maybe the company expected it.

Also, another study indicates that Facebook videos are shared seven times more than links. That kind of stat gives publishers a strong incentive to produce video content.

Clearly, Facebook is moving towards a platform that strongly favors video. Digital marketers who use Facebook to reach an audience should understand that and act accordingly.