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Are Facebook video ads working for brands?

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A recent Facebook sponsored ad

Nestlé and Estée Lauder are ramping up their mobile video investments on Facebook, but the verdict is still out on if such initiatives can drive ongoing engagement.

Big brands increasingly recognize the potential to reach a signficant audience on Facebook via mobile, with many quickly embracing the social media platform's growing video offerings. However, some are putting the cart before the horse by not having a strong social content strategy already in place.

“I'm a firm believer that 'paid' can be employed to help 'owned' gain traction amongst target audiences,” said Mark Pinsent, social and content lead at Metia, London. “In fact I'd go as far to say that it's difficult not to have a strategy that combines both.

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“But the quality of that owned content will always be where I put my focus,” he said. “After all, there's no point throwing money at advertising something if what you're pushing isn't well thought out and aligned to the audience's interests and passions.

“I believe that we've yet to see how social networks play on the public markets. What we do know is that markets are fickle and sensitive. When a Facebook executive stated recently that they were seeing teenagers being less active on the platform, the 14 percent increase in the company’s share price following otherwise strong results was instantly wiped out.”

Growing ad business
Facebook’s mobile ad business began making mobile video offerings available to marketers towards the end of 2013 to take their existent mobile advertising initiatives up a notch. At the same time, the increase in video ads in Facebook news streams is becoming more intrusive for consumers.

Essentially, there are two different ways that marketers can leverage video creative within mobile ad units.

The first is placing a video within a mobile app install unit to drive app downloads.

The second use case embeds a video into a sponsored post for a Page. The goal behind leveraging video in these cases is to increase higher-funnel goals such as branding.

There are a number of brands testing the latter option, including Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine and Estée Lauder’s Smashbox line of cosmetics.


Smashbox's mobile video ad

At the end of last week, Smashbox pushed out a sponsored post with a 15-second video showing off some of its products.

Additionally, Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine is running video-enabled sponsored ads to promote a beginning-of-year campaign called “10 day try it.” The campaign encourages consumers to sign-up for a starter kit with meals for ten days to kickstart their diets in 2014.


Lean Cuisine's video

Most recently, some of these videos and campaigns began testing a new feature that automatically plays a video while consumers browse through the Facebook app or site.

Summit Entertainment leveraged autoplay video to promote the film “Divergent,” but the feature is still so new that it not widely used by marketers yet.

“Video has introduced a new layer of engagement and relevancy, empowering marketers to reach Facebook’s 875 million person mobile audience with content in motion – content that delights, entertains and inspires consumers” said Cheryl Morris, director of marketing at Nanigans, Boston.

Getting in front of the right eyeballs
Similar to other mobile video initiatives, the focus of Facebook’s mobile video ads right now seems to be more about branding than commerce.

Therefore, it is not much of a shock that some of the first marketers to leverage Facebook’s mobile video ads are big brands that are already comfortable with television ads as a branding vehicle in part of a multichannel marketing mix.

Additionally, the initial brands leveraging Facebook video already have a significant presence and following on the social media site.

However, as more brands get on board with mobile ads on Facebook, it is possible that consumers are becoming annoyed with the user experience.

Facebook news feeds are being packed with more mobile video ads and app install units that can be overwhelming for consumers, especially if the ads are not targeted towards the right group of consumers.

“The fact that effective advertising happens on a video screen hasn't changed for over 50 years, but the nature of that screen has changed dramatically,” said Paul Bremer, general manager at blinkx Mobile, San Francisco.

“Consumers are watching more and more premium video on their smartphones and tablets, so it only makes sense for advertisers to market in that space,” he said. 

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Advertising, mobile, mobile marketing, Facebook, Mark Pinsent, Metia, Cheryl Morris, Nanigans, Paul Bremer, blinkx Mobile

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