For Facebook videos longer than a few seconds, you might have noticed mid-roll ads that interrupt what you’re watching. Well, I hope those weren’t too annoying because Facebook is doubling down on them.
Today, the company announced that mid-roll ads will be available to 21 new countries, and in 5 new languages. What does that mean for you? Well, if you’re reading this, probably nothing. Mid-roll ads in largely English-speaking countries have been around for a while. However, the broader trend means that you’re going to be seeing a lot more ads, and probably longer Facebook videos to accommodate them.
Facebook, YouTube, and other video sites have used pre-roll video ads for a while, which are pretty successful. Watch a few seconds of an ad, you get to watch a video. It doesn’t matter whether the video is 5 seconds or 5 hours afterwards, because you’ve already watched the ad. The downside to this approach is that you can only put ads before the video once.
Mid-roll ads create a different paradigm. You can put mid-roll ads in the middle of your video multiple times. Think about broadcast TV shows. In a 30 minute program, you can get 22 minutes of the show, and several different ad breaks at key times to keep you just interested enough to keep watching. It’s an annoying, disruptive ad scheme, but it’s proven to work in the past. The big question is whether or not it would also work on Facebook.
The answer to that seems to be a resounding “Yes” since Facebook is rolling them out more widely. As we’ve seen on YouTube, this tends to have the effect of encouraging longer videos. A 10 second video doesn’t really have much room for multiple ad breaks, but a 10 minute video could throw an ad break every few minutes and still possibly retain viewership.
That might mean that we could end up with higher-quality content on Facebook, with longer, more thoughtful videos that give you a reason to stick around through multiple mid-roll ads. Then again, it might just mean an influx of ten-hour looping videos, occasionally interrupted by an ad.