Video Ad Experiences

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Video Ad Experiences

Jan 12, 2018 by Mark Maier

Video advertising has certain trends and recent Facebook Business blog posts outline some of the latest research on how people view...

"Top video ad experiences

These graphs show how long people watch ads in different experiences before their attention drifts—whether skipping or scrolling ahead, closing the app, or pulling out their phone. The y-axis is video sessions and the x-axis is watch time.

Video Consumption on Social Media

Let’s go through these one at a time.


In feeds, like on Facebook or Twitter, an ad is one piece of content among many, so the bar for capturing attention is high. Feeds have unprecedented scale and reach. The vast majority of consumption is fast, but feeds also give you a shot at a deeper connection, like getting someone to take an action or watch a longer video.

When it comes to feeds, marketers should use creative that either quickly communicates the message or grabs people's attention and encourages them to stay. Mobile feeds tend to be great placements for highly efficient reach.

Video Consumption Based on Feed Based Ads

Non-skippable mid-roll or pre-roll

Non-skippable ads are closest to a TV ad experience, as ads are inserted into a video a person chose to watch. People are in a watching mood, so sound is often on and many people watch ads to the end (70%+ completion rates for Facebook Ad Breaks). Drop-offs and annoyance grow strongly with ad length. Since nothing is un-skippable anymore, 6s and 15s ads are emerging as cross-platform standards.

Video Consumption Based on Unskippable Ads

Skippable mid-roll or pre-roll

This graph is a striking combination of the previous two shapes. In other words, these ads behave just like two ads in one: a 5s ad seen by most viewers, followed by a 15-30s ad that reaches 10% of people or less (an interesting creative opportunity). Those pre-skip seconds do get flawed attention, as people have learned to laser-focus on the spot where the skip button pops up.

Video Consumption Based on Skippable Ads


Stories ads are the the newest and fastest-growing ads. Similar to feeds, ads are pieces of content among many—but here all content is sequential full-screen, often sound-on snippets. There's also an interesting opportunity to sequence stories to create a more engaging narrative. Since organic Stories are usually shot on phones, ads don't always have to be highly produced to be successful. The speed is even faster, but attention quality is very high since there are no distractions on screen and going fast requires focus.

Video Consumption Based on Stories Ads

Live TV

What should jump out immediately is that the attention curve for Live TV isn’t that different than the non-skippable mobile ad curve above. That's because with a phone in every hand, people can now “scroll away” from TV commercials just like they can for mobile ads. In a recent survey, 94% of people said they use their phone while watching TV, often during the commercial breaks.3

More technically, if we measure ads on live TV against the MRC standard for mobile video viewability—two continuous seconds, 50% in view—we we find that TV is roughly 50% MRC viewable.4 Only half the viewers watch an ad for more than two continuous seconds.

That doesn’t mean TV doesn’t work. We know that it does. But the point is that our understanding of how people choose to pay attention, how long it takes to influence them, and how value is created—they all need a total re-work in the mobile era.

Video Consumption Based on Stories Ads

How to think about value

When it comes to measuring ad effectiveness in this new mobile era, no two seconds are equal. Earning 10 seconds of watch time from millennials in Stories is harder than earning 10 seconds from an older audience in a non-skippable environment. What's more, those 10 seconds don't tell us much about the value created, because duration data alone isn’t great at fully predicting business results across different experiences.

And that's the key point: there is no longer a singular video experience for advertisers. And major opportunities are there for those who embrace this new environment.

That means:

  • Experiment with building creative specifically for each experience (or at least re-edit and repurpose)
  • Within a given experience, and for a given audience, iterate quickly on duration to ensure you’re capturing attention
  • Have a measurement strategy to estimate relative value. Run sales/brand lift, or other best measures for each experience
  • Get your organization and partners set up to be able to produce and iterate on creative quickly and cost effectively. Develop and test way more creative options.
  • Use the right optimization to achieve the marketing objective or KPI you care about (e.g., don’t use the reach objective if you care about maximizing views)
  • Start thinking about whether TV ads would benefit from new creative approaches that better hold attention

This will be a huge focus for us at Facebook and for the whole industry in 2018—mobile is fast becoming the primary media consumption device, so there's no time to waste.

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