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Facebook Live is trialling mid-roll ads and we’re supposed to be impressed?

Facebook is introducing mid-roll advertising to Facebook Live. It’s being sold as a positive story, but we’re calling them out on it right here, right now.

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Facebook has announced a monetising solution for Facebook Live: mid-roll. But we’re far from impressed.

Facebook’s relationship with brands

Facebook is 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 will this affect publishers long-term? Whilst reach seems to be increasing, engagement and time spent visiting the publisher’s sites is declining.

The model is pushing publishers to create snackable content for Facebook feeds, rather than the stories they’d have invested talent and research in. Ad dollars are generating revenue, but is that revenue helping the longevity of publisher brands?

Advertisers are lining up too, all eager to dive into the deep end of Facebook’s brand pool. But many may find their messages hugely diluted. And their data? Well, it’s Facebook’s data now.

Facebook Live introduces mid-roll

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 out on it. No Facebook, just no!

Facebook has jumped on live streaming video because it’s the popular flavour right now, and for a 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 has offered.

Big budgets, small ideas

The budget set aside for paid live stream content was $50million. Various chunks of the budget are dedicated to attracting very specific media companies such as BuzzFeed and celebs like Gordon Ramsay. It may seem a lot but it’s not an epic amount when you consider the amount of content required and the percentages set aside for publishers. And what happens when that $50million runs out? Enter advertising, the solution that’s been keeping content free whilst also paying creators for years. Perfect. Well, it could be, but again – no!

Now playing, live on Facebook chart

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’s a non-interruptive format because it sits before content. What ruins viewing experiences is an 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 Facebook Live is fundamentally flawed

The nature of live streaming is that it’s 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. It’s a backward step being taken by a huge network.

There are much better options to monetise live streams and engage with audiences, and yes – Coull’s OverStream formats are some of those. We’re not going to shy away from the fact we care about audiences and our publisher’s content.

Our audiences deserve better than mediocre, interruptive monetisation solutions from the biggest social platform on the planet.

Advertisers and publishers do have a choice. Stop jumping in that pool. It’s tainted and it’s only a matter of time before the blue dye stains everything.

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Posted by simonholliday