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No escape: Facebook Live broadcasts will have commercials

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Facebook Live streams from the platform’s biggest publishers are about to be invaded by commercial breaks.

The move marks the first time ever that ads will be interjected into videos on the social network. “We’re running a small test where a group of publishers have the option to insert a short ad break in their Facebook Live videos,” Facebook confirmed to Adage.

In the absence of ads on its Live network, Facebook has instead offered lucrative content deals to lure media companies and celebs to the service — some of which were reported to be worth upwards of $3 million. That was always going to be a short-term strategy, however, with Facebook eyeing a long-term revenue-sharing model akin to YouTube. The most recent reports claim that it is closer than ever to nailing down a payment model for creators — and ads will inevitably play a major part in that venture.

In order not to alienate viewers, Facebook is allowing ads to be placed mid-roll during a Live stream. The company has consistently rebuked a pre-roll ad approach, claiming that it would result in users skipping videos altogether. Consequently, during the test phase, publishers are allowed to insert an ad five minutes into a Facebook Live broadcast, with the commercials themselves lasting up to 15 seconds or shorter.

Facebook has reportedly informed advertisers that the video ads will be sourced from the existing campaigns that are already active on the platform. Brands are allowed to opt out of the feature altogether, and publishers can choose the type of ads that run during their live-streams — they can also choose to turn off ads if the broadcast is of a sensitive nature.

Facebook has not disclosed whether the experiment will be turned into a fully functional ad product. As of now, the company is not sharing ad revenue from the test run with its publishing partners. This may be due to the fact that its media partners have already been paid for their visual content.

No matter how the test run plays out, Facebook Live ads will likely be here to stay if the company wants its video network to thrive.

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