Facebook plans ‘TV style’ commercials for site
Socail network could charge as much as $2.5 million f or 15-second spots
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive speaks during a Facebook press event. Photograph: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Social network Facebook is planing to sell TV-style commercials on its site for as much as $2.5 million a day, two people familiar with the matter said.
Facebook, which is seeking to break the long-held dominance of television over advertising budgets, expects to start offering 15-second spots to advertisers later this year, capitalising on its 1.15 billion members.
The move would follow efforts by Facebook’s online rivals to capture ad dollars that have traditionally gone to TV networks. Google began funding original content channels on its YouTube video-sharing site in recent years, giving it a more curated venue for commercials. A year ago, AOL started HuffPost Live, a CNN-like video stream running five days a week.
With Facebook, the idea would be to capitalise on the millions of users who actively check the site on a daily basis, including during the prime-time hours coveted by television advertisers. As of last quarter, 61 per cent of Facebook members were using the site daily - a number that has risen despite management predictions that it would decline.
“Every night, 88 million to 100 million people are actively using Facebook during prime-time TV hours in the United States alone,” chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said last week on a conference call about second-quarter results.
Elisabeth Diana, a spokeswoman for Facebook, declined to comment on its advertising plan.
While the social network already allows advertisers to upload videos to their Facebook page and then broadcast them to a user’s news feed, the new service would let marketers buy their way directly into a person’s feed with a 15-second pitch, according to the people. That’s typically the minimum length of a television commercial. At 15 seconds, the ads also would be the same length as Facebook’s Instagram videos - a feature that was added to the company’s photo-sharing service last month. That means the commercials would come in a familiar format for users.
The commercials will initially be sold on a full-day basis and can only be targeted to users based on age and gender, according to the people. That would be a break from how ad units are currently sold on Facebook, which lets marketers target ads based on location and areas of interest - data points that television networks generally don’t offer. By relying on fewer categories, Facebook is mimicking the way television ads are purchased, an attempt to make the process more comfortable for executives accustomed to TV, the people said.
Facebook members won’t see a commercial more than three times in a given day, the people said. Depending on how large an audience an advertiser plans to reach, the ads will range in price from $1 million to about $2.5 million a day, according to the people.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been working with global marketing head Carolyn Everson on the video ad service, pushed back the start date at least twice, wanting to make sure Facebook’s user experience won’t be tainted by the ads, according to the people.
Mr Zuckerberg wants high-definition video and easy-to-use playback features, they said.
The Facebook founder said last week that he’s sensitive to how users react to advertising in general. He plans to limit the amount of ads people see to about one for every 20 updates. That would comprise about 5 per cent of a user’s news feed.
“One of the things I watch most closely is the quality of our ads and people’s sentiment around them,” Mr Zuckerberg said. “We haven’t measured a meaningful drop in satisfaction.”