Facebook eliminates ad breaks on short videos, but expands ads in Watch Tab

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Facebook users will soon start seeing fewer ad breaks on short videos but they could start seeing pre-roll ads on the videos inside the Watch Tab. The ad changes, announced on Thursday, December 14, come with updates that will also help move more videos to the top of the news feed.

After discontinuing a program that paid selected publishers for live video at the end of the year, Facebook will instead be using a handful of new advertising strategies, some previously tested and some launching only in the testing phase. The changes, Facebook says, help to build different monetization tools for partners, while Facebook users could see fewer ads of one kind only to see more from another type.

The first change is to the mid-video ad breaks already in place. Facebook is doubling the 90-second limit to a three-minute requirement, which means those ads won’t be appearing in those super short videos anymore. The change also puts the first ad further into the video. Ad breaks could previously come as early as 20 seconds, but new requirements push the first ad back to the one-minute mark.

The change is likely a positive one for Facebook users that want to see fewer ads and Facebook says that in testing, users reported more overall satisfaction when the ads were excluded from the short videos and the first one appeared after the one-minute mark. The company also said that once that one-minute mark is reached, viewers are more likely to continue watching than videos that are interrupted after only 20 seconds.

The same type of ads could also be migrating to more live videos. Facebook announced the tests for ad breaks for live video earlier in 2017, though the test now includes stricter requirements for users that can actually earn revenue from those ads. Now, while still in testing, users have to have a Page, not a personal profile, and have more than 50,000 followers in order to participate in the test of the feature. If live ad breaks move out of testing, the feature could help publishers that lost a revenue stream when Facebook decided not to renew contracts that paid publishers to put out live video.

While users will be seeing fewer ad breaks on short videos, they could be seeing more in new locations in the form of pre-roll ads in the Watch tab. Pre-roll ads run before the video even starts — a popular option on YouTube. While Facebook says they don’t work well for the feed, it is testing the format in situations where the user seeks out that particular video, mainly through the Watch tab. Facebook says that users looking for a specific video are more likely to wait for that ad to finish the video.

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