How Facebook is Improving its Advertising


Earlier this year, Facebook made some advertising changes which it hopes will provide more transparency and choice for its users - But what are these changes, and how will they affect marketers?

Facebook continues to grow, surpassing analyst estimates by earning $8.81 billion in revenue and gaining 70 million users (bringing them to a total of 1.86 billion monthly users) in Q4 2016. The other platforms in Facebook’s network have also seen significant growth, with Messenger and WhatsApp having over one billion and 1.2 active users respectively.

While these numbers are impressive, it’s the level of engagement that Facebook sees from its users that truly sets them apart. In May last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day with Facebook properties. That’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking each day, and it puts Facebook above any other tech property.

This growth is despite some difficulties Facebook faced last year, including being accused of doing little to stop the spread of fake news, and controversy surrounding the advertising metrics they share with advertisers and publishers - it was reported that in some cases video viewing statistics had been overestimated by 80%.

Facebook has ostensibly entered 2017 with answers for both of these issues: they unveiled their plans for tackling fake news, and have announced various steps they are taking to improve their advertising metrics.

So What’s Actually Changing at Facebook?

In a blog post, they announced that they now offer three new buying options for video ads across Facebook, Instagram and their Audience Network:

  1. Completed-view buying: advertisers can choose to only pay for video ads that have been viewed in their entirety, for any duration up to 10 seconds
  2. Two-second buying: paying when at least 50% of an ad’s pixels are in-view for two continuous seconds or longer
  3. Sound-on buying: 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound, which might suggest lower engagement, so the platform is giving advertisers the opportunity to target viewers with sound-on

In addition to these new buying options, Facebook is also going to supply more detailed information about ad impressions, providing data on exactly how long an advert is on the screen, including a) how long at least 50% of the ad is visible and b) how long 100% of the ad was visible.

Finally, like YouTube, Facebook is committing to an audit by the Media Rating Council, an influential non-profit organisation that sets rules for the tracking of media consumption, to verify the accuracy of their figures.

All of this comes after Facebook recently gave publishers the ability to show “mid-roll” ads in during longer videos, offering more options for connecting with engaged users (and creating more inventory).

What does this mean for marketers?

Ultimately, these changes mean that marketers will be getting more choice, more detailed and more accurate reports from their advertising campaigns on Facebook. It could also mean that they get higher engagement rates. Marketers may end up having to spend more on Facebook advertising, but they should get more bang for their buck.

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