Facebook is ready to make money from all the videos that publishers share to the network.
On Thursday Facebook announced that it will start putting ads in the middle of publisher’s videos, kind of like TV commercials. We knew these “mid-roll” ads were coming — reported back in January that Facebook was preparing for them — but now Facebook says they’re officially live, though just as a “test.”
This is big news for publishers, many of which have trouble making money off videos they share to Facebook. Facebook lets publishers make money from branded content, or videos they create for marketers, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always been opposed to pre-roll ads, which are standard in the industry.
So publishers were clamoring for a way to get paid for all the video they share to Facebook, and the company thinks mid-roll ads might do the trick.
Facebook is testing the new ads with a “small group” of U.S. publishers, and will split ad revenue with them — 55 percent to the publisher and 45 percent to Facebook. The ads can’t run until a video has been rolling for at least 20 seconds, and ads must be at least two minutes apart, Facebook says.
Facebook was already running this mid-roll ads on some live videos, and said Thursday that those efforts are expanding. Now any U.S. publisher with 2,000 or more followers that has also “reached 300 or more concurrent viewers in a recent live video” will be eligible to insert video ads into their livestreams. Facebook offers to same ad split for mid-rolls in live videos, 55 percent to the publisher and 45 percent to Facebook.
The criteria for live video ads is slightly different. Publishers need to be live for at least four minutes before they can take an ad break, and the stream must have at least 300 concurrent viewers. Each ad will last 20 seconds.
Facebook’s timing in expanding the mid-roll ads for live videos is not coincidental. The company has spent the past year paying celebrities and publishers to use its live video product, but many of those deals are coming to a close. VP of Partnerships Dan Rose said earlier this month that Facebook was planning to abandon most of those paid deals in favor of revenue splits on ads.
The company also just announced a new video app for set-top boxes, with the hope that users will watch Facebook videos on the big screen in their living room. Facebook said that videos inside that app would not include ads, but it’s easy to imagine this same type of mid-roll ad coming to a Facebook TV app down the line.