Facebook has been rolling out and announcing new features over the last several months, embracing the popularity of newsletters, audio formats and upgrades to its video advertising options. Most recently, Facebook is tweaking its short-form video offerings ahead of the IAB NewFronts, kicking off May 3, when “digital media platforms present programming and ad services to potential brand sponsors.” TikTok led to an explosion in popularity of mobile-friendly, short-form video, and now social media platforms everywhere are refining their video offerings for monetization and increased advertising opportunities. Brands that want to capitalize on the popularity of video should be developing short-form video strategies to stay in the mix.
Facebook Is Prioritizing Short-Form Video Over Watch And Longer Original Formats
Video isn’t new to Facebook. According to Facebook, it has “2 billion monthly viewers consuming video.” However, the platform is looking at ways to capitalize on the popularity of short-form video in the Facebook News Feed, as opposed to through Watch, Facebook’s video hub.
Although Facebook spent several years developing long-form, original content, that type of content seems to no longer be the priority for Facebook as short-form grows in popularity, particularly for mobile-first users. “I think there are places to watch longer-form video, Netflix, Amazon, etc. But in our environment, the shorter-form videos definitely have more traction. We would say the creative community, the creator community, is definitely erring on the side of more shorter-form video, where advertisers are going to be able to insert ads in between. So that definitely fits more of the direction our platforms are headed,” explains Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP of global business solutions, in an AdAge article by reporter Garett Sloane.
In addition to being shorter, the videos in the Facebook News Feed will be targeted contextually instead of using audience traits. This change is a response to the increased walling off of data by Google and Apple, speculates Sloane. Facebook is calling the contextual targeting “in-stream video topics,” with this new advertising opportunity allowing brands to “place ads in certain video topics through Ads Manager — allowing advertisers to align their brand messaging within content that is contextually relevant to their target consumer.” Topic choices are both broad, like “sports,” and more narrow, like “swimming,” giving advertisers the opportunity to reach expansive or smaller, niche audiences. The new short-form video advertising feature within Facebook, now in testing, could offer advertisers better engagement with target audiences in a brand-safe environment.
Instagram Testing Advertising Within Instagram Reels
Instagram, owned by Facebook, is also getting an advertising upgrade to its short-form video feature Reels. The Instagram Reels ads will be “full-screen and immersive, similar to ads in [Instagram] Stories. As with organic [Instagram] Reels content, ads can be up to 30 seconds, and people can comment, like, view, save, share and skip Reels ads.” Testing of Instagram Reels ads will begin in India, Brazil, Germany and Australia.
Facebook Adding Advertising Options Within Facebook Stories
Facebook is also adding additional advertising options to its Stories feature, using stickers to capitalize on the popularity of ecommerce and make it easier than ever for consumers to seamlessly make purchases directly from Facebook. According to Facebook, “These ads allow creators to monetize their Facebook Stories with ads that look like stickers and receive a portion of the resulting revenue. Brands will create bespoke stickers and creators can proactively place these Sticker Ads in their Facebook Stories.”
What Does The Explosion Of Short-Form Video Features Mean For Digital Advertisers?
Reducing friction from advertising is a good thing. Brands that correctly leverage the popularity of short-form video, to deliver advertising in a format that their audiences appreciate, are likely to enjoy increased consumer engagement.
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