Peter Kafka

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Reminder: Facebook Is Going to Sell Video Ads

empty tv shutterstockAd and tech folks have been talking about Facebook’s plans to sell video ads for a year or so. We thought we might see them this spring or summer.

But, as Advertising Age reported last month, those plans have been pushed back to “early fall, at the earliest.”

We do have a good idea of what they’ll look like when they show up, though: Short clips that will automatically play — without sound — when users scroll through their News Feed; if Facebook users click on the ad, the volume will turn on, and the ad will expand to take up most of the page.

Projected price: Think giant-TV-event prices. Facebook would like to get $1 million to $2.5 million for the spots for a daylong run. That’s less than a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl, but dwarfs just about everything else in ad land.

Now Bloomberg reminds us that Facebook is still out there telling advertisers about its plans. Which is more than COO Sheryl Sandberg would do when asked about video ads during the company’s earnings call last week. (Okay, she said the company would “expand” on its current and tiny video ad units, but wouldn’t elaborate beyond that.)

If you are reading this, you don’t need anyone to explain why Facebook would like to get into the business of selling TV-like ads. That said, now that Facebook has convinced investors that, after all, it isn’t going to be poleaxed by mobile, there may be less pressure to get this stuff out ASAP.

It is worth noting that everyone else who is in the business of selling TV-like ads is having trouble matching the stuff they want to sell to things people want to look at on the Web. Or getting people to actually watch the video ads when they do find them. Also note that Google’s YouTube and other sites are now moving to a new “cost per view” pricing scheme where advertisers only pay for video ads if users actually watch them.

If and when Facebook launches its TV-like ads, it will certainly find lots of people watching them at first, because people always pay attention to new ad formats when they first find them — in the ’90s, they used to click on banner ads, too. The trick will be getting them to keep clicking.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”