Facebook has confirmed it is running tests of mid-roll video ads inside live video broadcasts from top publishing partners. These are Facebook’s first ads that get served directly inside videos on the social network. “We’re running a small test where a group of publishers have the option to insert a short ad break in their Facebook Live videos,” Facebook told Adage in an e-mail.
The social network has indicated for months that there was a possibility of introducing commercial breaks during live-streams, and head of product Fidji Simo touched on the opportunity in a forum in June.
Facebook has even been paying publishers and Web celebs to start streaming. The payments were seen as necessary because the platform does not have a mature ad-model for videos that it could share with its partners, who lacked the proper financial incentive to come on board.
Facebook has always been reluctant to show pre-roll spots — ads directly before videos — because CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he thinks that ruins the viewing experience. Clearly he is more amenable to mid-roll, as Facebook started notifying advertisers last month that their commercials could start showing up during live video streams, according to knowledgable people.
The ads are eligible to appear five minutes into a broadcast, and they last up to 15 seconds or shorter, according to one agency executive, who has discussed the ads with Facebook.
Facebook told advertisers that the video ads would be drawn from among promoted video campaigns already running on the platform, but some brands could opt out of having their ads appear during live broadcasts, the source said. “We wanted to opt out immediately, because there was no reporting on how well it does and you don’t have control over where the commercial shows up,” the agency executive said.
Facebook is still in the testing phase with the Live commercials, and it is not certain that it will develop them into a full-fledged ad product, sources said.
Facebook could eventually share revenue with the media partners, but it is not doing so as part of the test run, according to people familiar with the ad trials. Facebook keeps the ad revenue, but it does pay some premium publishers directly for their content on Live.
“We haven’t seen any money yet,” said one publishing executive, who is part of the trial. “We’re basically doing them a favor.”
One features would allow Facebook to serve different ads to different viewers watching the same live broadcast.
“It’s cool. It’s a tool that lets us take commercial breaks and go to commercial. It’s real innovation,” the publishing executive said.