Video in the Feed and the Future of Digital Marketing

With recent developments in Facebook advertising, it is my pleasure to dig into “Video In The Feed” advertising and its place in the current advertising and digital marketing environment. Announced in December and currently being rolled out throughout Facebook’s web and mobile sites, the video advertisements will be an everyday part of hundreds of millions of Facebook users. Let us put the current expansions into context, and provide the general ideas behind the video ads, where they came from and what they mean for marketing teams.

Where Digital Advertising was before.

Modern digital marketing campaigns are being pressed to do more with less. Looking into the relatively modern history of digital marketing, we can see that online marketing tools are adopted and abandoned faster than through traditional media. From the first spam emails in the 80’s to banner ads in the 90’s, up to notorious popups of the late ‘90’s and early into the new millennium, we can see a steady progression to more and more active and engaging advertisements.

As bandwidths increase, internet availability increases both in cost and in usability, companies are more and more willing to foot the bill for the rising costs of advertising in new media. Video advertisements have been in use predominantly on video uploading and sharing sites since 2008. While we look to YouTube as the leader and provider of most of our online video content, by the time YouTube produced their first “Promoted video” advertisements, Facebook and Twitter had been “Sponsoring” posts, pages and tweets for several years.

ad on Youtube video

Ad on Youtube video

Facebook Advertising

While Facebook was originally not developed for advertising and marketing, the interconnectedness of Facebook and ease of sharing makes it ideal for digital marketing teams. In 2006 Facebook began advertising with JP Morgan Chase with a special promotion for Facebook users. Since then we’ve seen partnerships with Microsoft, and the acquisition of Atlas in Facebooks transition into a media powerhouse.

Now we’re looking at another transitional period for Facebook advertisements, both with the majority of Facebook users switching over to mobile devices, and the introduction of more bandwidth-taxing video advertisements. The combination of these two factors leads us to an interesting position as digital marketers. Looking at increasing market size and dramatic numbers on mobile devices, digital marketing teams are jumping at the chance to get on Facebook mobile. Sponsored ads and sponsored pages presented in the newsfeed, as well as static ads and “Recommended Pages” were all introduced in the last few years, and at the end of 2013 we had an announcement that video ads will be incorporated into the newsfeed.

advertising on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook

Prices and Concerns

Video ads to be placed into the newsfeed are met with both excitement and hesitation, as most changes to the Facebook model often are. The ads are set to be 15 seconds long and prescreened by an independent company before they are approved to be placed on a newsfeed. The videos are set to play silently as soon as they are loaded, and the user can tap the ad to expand and add audio to the ad if they find it appealing. Customer concerns with data size and auto-downloading videos will be addressed in time, as of the time of writing the Facebook ads are not being downloaded on to mobile devices when on data, but will be downloaded when on Wi-Fi, as will any videos posted or shared by the user.

As a marketer, it is important to keep a close watch on how Facebook plans to use their videos over data plans, as this will have a direct emotional impact on the end user. They will know they are paying for every second of advertisement that they’ve decided to open, and the name of the company will be connected with their used data. Though it is certainly an interesting development, video ads in the news feed are still undergoing policy changes and should be viewed with caution.

Photo from Facebook Developers

Photo from Facebook Developers

The Product and The Audience

Diligent advertising focuses on maximising the overlap between your target audience and the audience exposed to your advertisements. When working in a digital medium it is even more important, with new tools like “Pay Per Click” and “Real Time Bidding” on the market, every cent spent in a fruitless venture is a cent wasted. With the hyper-competitive nature of advertising over every niche market online, a marketing team cannot afford to drop cents off the dollar in missing the target market.

Video advertising on Facebook is currently running between 1 and 2.5 million dollars for a 15 second ad played over 24 hour period. The variation in price will reflect the ad being played at different times or targeting different demographics. When confronting the potential of wasted money going into dead ad campaigns, a publisher should approach any deal with active creative alternatives. Looking at the huge market and the fittingly huge price tag advertising on Facebook brings, creative marketing solutions are looking more and more appealing to smaller marketing teams.


Photo: CC BY 2013 Marc Cornelis

The Future of Digital Marketing

With massive budgets and the constant pressure of ad blindness, marketing teams are always on the look out for the next medium to present their products. With the potential customers becoming more and more interconnected online advertisements are the way of the future. Digital marketing is no longer limited to dangerous popups and flat boring banner ads. The tools to make an engaging and interesting advertising campaign are there, and the publishers of today are looking into an exciting future of finding creative marketing solutions.

digital marketing

Parting Thoughts

When looking to increase your digital presence, it is important that you come to the table with a target, a measurable goal, and a budget. Make sure your ideas are flexible but your goals are solid. The online marketing and advertising sphere is constantly changing. Creativity is constantly struggling to stay one step ahead of ad blindness. Everyone fighting for space and driving up prices, companies live and die by the dollar. Information gathering tools and talented analysts will be your most reliable investments.

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