Facebook are the powerhouse of walled garden networks. Publishers have been lured to the garden and are essentially handing their distribution over to Instant Articles for instant reach but how this will affect publishers long term, especially their brands is yet to be seen. Whilst reach seems to be increasing, engagement and time spent visiting the publisher’s sites is declining.
The model is almost pushing publishers to create snackable content for Facebook feeds, rather than perhaps the stories they would have invested time, talent and research in. Ad dollars are generating revenue, but is that revenue helping the longevity of legacy publisher brands?
Advertisers too are lining up, all eager to dive into the deep end of Facebook’s brand pool. Again though, as with publisher brands - many may well find their messages hugely diluted, and their data? Well, it’s Facebook’s data now.
The latest news from Facebook is that they’ll be introducing mid-roll advertising to Facebook Live. It’s being sold as a positive story, but we’re calling them on it right here, right now. No Facebook, just no!
Facebook have jumped on live streaming video because it’s the popular flavour right now, and for very good reason. But their advertising plans are confusing. Like pairing a fine vintage wine with 2 minute noodles and expecting people to be impressed. We’re not.
(Sometimes it's said best, when you say nothing at all)
It’s not too difficult to coerce influential celebrities and media companies to get involved in creating live stream content – not if there’s a hefty paycheck involved anyway, and that’s what Facebook have offered.
The budget set aside for paid live stream content was set at $50million with various chunks dedicated to attracting and keeping very specific media companies such as BuzzFeed and popular celebs like Gordon Ramsay. It may seem a lot but it’s not an epic amount when you consider the vast amount of content required and the percentages set aside for specific publishers. And what happens when that $50million runs out? What about those publishers or YouTube stars that aren’t benefiting from that contractual pay packet? Enter advertising, the solution that’s been keeping content free for the masses whilst also paying creators for years. Perfect. Well it could be, but again - no!
Facebook’s consideration of the publisher and their audience’s experience seems to be non-existent. Zuckerberg has always been averse to the idea of pre-roll advertising because according to him it ‘ruins the viewing experience’. However, whilst pre-roll may not be the ideal ad format for all audiences, it is a non interruptive format because it sits before content. What ruins viewing experiences is interruption.
Mid-roll is an interruption – it’s got the word mid in it people, it doesn’t get more interruptive than that. But ‘The Berg’ isn’t concerned, that’s the very model he’s approved for Facebook Live advertising.
Why mid-roll for live stream is fundamentally flawed
The nature of live streaming – is that it is live! That’s why it’s so exciting. So putting an ad in the middle of a live stream seems rather inappropriate, especially as the advertising industry is fighting hard to provide better ad experiences, and making inroads. It’s a backward step being taken by a huge network. There are much better options for publishers to monetize live stream content and engage with audiences, and yes – Coull’s OverStream format is one of those. We’re not going to shy away from the fact we care about audiences, we care about our publisher’s content and their brand and we care about the open web.
Live stream mid-roll ads have ad tech providers scratching heads. As we plough ahead and erode the status quo to forge a better shinier ad experience for our clients, Facebook scream and shout about a terrible solution to monetizing an exciting new content format.
The industry and our audiences deserve better than mediocre monetization solutions in the form of interruptive advertising - from the biggest social platform on the planet no less.
Advertisers and publishers do have a choice. Stop jumping in that pool - it’s tainted and it’s just a matter of time before the blue dye stains everything.