Facebook Are Adding 'Mid-Video' Advertising

Remember a few years ago when you would get through about 20 seconds of a video, only for it to be interrupted by an ad? Remember how infuriating that was, so much so that any previous or potential interest in what it was advertising would be immediately extinguished? Well, Facebook video has just been updated to include something disturbingly similar.

The news first came down in January that Facebook were planning on adding ad-break style ads into the middle of videos, but now it looks like they're here. It's only in the testing phase at the moment, according to an official announcement by Facebook, a small group of US-based publishers have been granted access to them, with 45% of the profit going to Facebook and the rest to the publisher in question.

This is a positive step for publishers. Facebook video is pretty difficult to make money from in its current guise. The only way to really turn a profit is to make branded content, but for that the brand actually has to approach you, so it's kind of a catch 22. With these 'mid-roll' ads in place, any publisher has the potential to earn some dolla, regardless of reputation.

The ads can't appear until the video has been running for at least 20 seconds, and can't be less than 2 minutes apart. This raises the slightly worrying notion that there might actually be more than one 'mid roll' ad for the same video. The ads will also appear on live streams, and at the moment any US publisher with 2,000+ likes who managed to pull in 300 or more views in a recent live video is eligible for them.

Different rules apply to live videos. Instead of 20 seconds, the vid has to have been running for at least 4 minutes before ads can start appearing, the ads themselves can only be 20 seconds long, and the stream must have 300 'concurrent' viewers for ads to actually appear. This is probably one of the main reasons Facebook are introducing mid-roll advertising - it will allow them to jettison the paid endorsement deals for Facebook Live.

What does it mean for the rest of us though? Well, it mainly means that we'll be hit with more irritating 20 second ads than ever before on the platform, but how annoying it is depends heavily on how much time you spend absorbing video content on Facebook. For most people it's very much a now and again thing. Some shows, such as The Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, rely heavily on Facebook video for promotion, but a sizeable contingent of web-series still just share from YouTube.

If you ask me, YouTube's front end advertising format makes more sense than mid-roll advertising, you get it out of the way, and then you can watch the full video, but Mark Zuckerberg has vehemently opposed front end video advertising pretty much since Facebook first introduced video.

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