Facebook hits play on 'upfront' ad sales for premium video
- Facebook introduced ad-buying procedures for its premium video content to make its platform more like traditional broadcast TV and glean more revenue from Watch, per a blog post. Facebook Showcase lets advertisers buy ad spots in advance at a fixed cost, resembling TV networks that host an "upfront" to preview new shows and sell commercial time in advance, Reuters reported.
- Facebook's In-Stream Reserve helps to target audiences that are verified by audience measurement company Nielsen. Erik Geisler, Facebook's head of North America agency sales, told Reuters at a press event that the company reviews every video before making it eligible for Facebook Showcase.
- The company also introduced sponsorships that let advertisers pay to be exclusive sponsors of a program shown in the United States. Facebook also added food and news categories to its premium content, which previously included sports, entertainment and fashion and beauty, according to the blog post.
Facebook's adoption of traditional broadcast sales strategies is part of the social network's effort to boost ad revenue in the Watch platform by appealing to media agencies that are accustomed to buying ad time during the "upfront" season. The company also is emphasizing brand safety, as Google's YouTube came under fire last week amid concerns that the platform let people post pedophilic and other objectionable comments next to videos of children in compromising positions.
Facebook has gradually ramped up video programming to keep audiences engaged with its sweeping social platform. The company in August 2017 created Watch as a video on-demand service for short-form content and premium shows, and planned to spend as much as $1 billion by the end of last year on original shows. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in January that he wanted the social network to become a "video-first" platform. "We're finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed so it doesn't displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for," Zuckerberg said in a quarterly conference call with analysts.
While 400 million people every month view at least one minute of programming on Watch, the platform has only about 75 million daily viewers, who spend an average of 20 minutes a day on it, Facebook reported in December. The social network's News Feed is still the primary way that users see content on the platform, but Facebook has aimed to push video viewing to the Watch tab in its app. Facebook Showcase adds to the social giant's range of programming that includes "Returning the Favor" and "Red Table Talk" on Watch. Facebook this month began asking content creators like producers, publishers and influencers with large followings on Instagram and other platforms to offer up fresh ideas for shows that may resonate with users, Digiday reported.