In 2017, Facebook (currently Meta) started to notice that more and more people were watching longer-form videos on its platform, especially on mobile devices. This presented the golden opportunity for Facebook to utilise the behaviour of its users when consuming media to its advantage.
Their solution to this was in-stream ads, which gave marketers on the platform the ability to place video ads directly within live and on-demand videos being broadcast on the platform. Keep reading to learn more about Facebook in-stream ads.
So, what are Facebook in-stream ads?
As Facebook perfectly puts it, Facebook in-stream ads allow advertisers to place ads in video content on the social media platform. These ads give advertisers the ability to deliver mid-roll ads to people who are already watching videos using their mobile devices.
The duration of these ads can range from 5 seconds to 120 seconds, depending on where you place them. The person who is watching the video ad can only skip it after 15 seconds. So, if the ad happens to be shorter than that, it is un-skippable.
Moreover, these ads don’t appear until at least 60 seconds into the main video content. This is done intentionally in order to ensure that only people who are engaged with the content see these ads. In other words, think of them as commercial breaks.
And much like other Facebook or Instagram ad campaigns, marketers can thoroughly choose who their target audiences are for these in-stream ads.
Facebook in-stream ads – Placements
Businesses or marketers on the social platform have two options to place their in-stream ads, either on Facebook itself or the Audience Network.
On Facebook, in-stream video ads will play during videos from digital-first creators that tailor their content to the average Facebook audience member. According to Facebook, these creators aren’t selected randomly. Rather, they’re users who make longer and authentic content, influencers per se.
Think of the Eh Bee Family, for instance, they have over 10 million likes on their page, and they produce family-friendly content. They’re just an example amongst thousands of other creators that Facebook deems worthy of hosting ads.
These ads will only appear on mobile devices and will only show up after 60 seconds of the main video content.
On the Audience Network, it’s a different deal, however. The in-stream ads might appear before or during a video on hundreds of different publisher sites and apps. Plus, in-stream ads on the Audience Network are available on both mobile devices and desktops.
You can select your placement choices in the Placements section as you’re creating the ad set. Besides being able to select the placement on your own, Facebook also has the option for automatic placements. The latter is recommended by Facebook since it allows them to find the most optimised placements for your video. Automated placements are based on relevance, your objectives and budget.
Why use Facebook in-stream ads?
If your main goals of advertising on Facebook include things such as increasing visibility, reach, brand awareness, and engagement, then these ads could be for you. As a matter of fact, Facebook recognises most of these goals and allows you to choose between them in the Facebook Ads Manager.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the many benefits of Facebook in-stream ads individually:
The audience-based targeting offered by Facebook makes it easy for advertisers to deliver ads that are relevant to the “right audience”. And this type of ad is no different.
Moreover, Facebook’s suggested videos feature will also help with this. Why? You might ask. Well, when users are watching a video of their choice, one that doesn’t happen to contain your ad, suggested videos will automatically play afterwards. And chances are, your in-stream ads are in one or many of those videos.
All of this can help to increase your brand awareness.
Usually, when people complain about online advertisements, they’re just complaining about bad ads. And when they say bad ads, they mean the irrelevant, poorly executed, and disruptive ones.
Good ads, on the other hand, are ones that are well-optimised and relevant to the users. They have the potential to exponentially increase your reach. And Facebook in-stream ads, when done right, can very well be these ads. Not only are they entertaining and well-placed. But they’re also useful and relevant most of the time, thanks to Facebook’s top-notch optimisation.
Well over one billion people see an ad on Facebook’s Audience Network every month, meaning you have access to a huge number of potential new customers. Combine that with the fact that non-skippable in-stream video ads tend to hold the viewers’ attention better than regular ads.
And you have at your hands an optimal way of boosting brand visibility.
Some marketers feel that Facebook in-stream ads are somewhat limiting, especially since many platforms don’t offer them. However, this is actually good because it means that there is far less competition from other advertisers; This, of course, can translate to more ad engagement for you.
Additionally, the fact that Facebook ensures that in-stream video ads are tied to a reputable publisher’s content can increase booster engagement. This is because having your ad attached to a reputable content creator adds a sense of trustworthiness and relevance.
Disadvantages of Facebook in-stream ads
Some users are somewhat attached to the content that they consume on Facebook. And having something interrupt that content can be annoying for some, so annoying in fact that they wouldn’t come near whatever brand was behind the ad.
This, of course, isn’t the case when they are watching regular Facebook ads. They can rewind them, skip ahead, and more.
They can be costly
Putting together a well-curated In-stream ad requires a lot of time and energy. Indeed, if you want to do it right, you’d need a script or a plot of how those short 15 or something seconds will go.
And if your ad features real-life footage, you’ll need to account for costs related to the shooting, as well as other gadgets.
Even if you don’t plan on doing that, stock footage and photos can cut you back a bit.
Facebook in-stream ads – Ad specs
In order to ensure that your Facebook in-stream ads perform at their best for your brand, consider the following ad specs:
On Facebook, your in-stream video ad’s length varies depending on where you place it. It can be anywhere between 5 and 120 seconds.
Although you could use your whole allocation for the ad’s length, we don’t recommend it. Instead, try to deliver a strong message in a very short time because if you don’t, it will feel disruptive. And no one wants an ad to completely disrupt the content they were consuming.
On Facebook, the aspect ratios for your in-stream ads are:
- Vertical: up to 9:16
- Square: 1:1
- Landscape: up to 16:9
As for the Audience Network, they are:
- Square: 1:1.
- Landscape: up to 16:9
At least 1080 x 1080 pixels.
This is optional but highly recommended. Video captions are also available and are highly recommended by Facebook.
Facebook in-stream ads – Best practices
Facebook in-stream ads have been around long enough for marketers to draw some conclusions about how they work. And here are some tips that advertisers all around the world might be utilising to get the best out of their in-stream ads on Facebook:
As we have mentioned above, in-stream ads aren’t particularly lengthy. This means that the first 3 to 4 seconds of your ad are the most important. It is then that viewers decide to continue watching the whole ad or skip it the moment they can.
And in order for your ad to make an instantaneous impact, make sure to use colours, sound, and movement to grab the attention of your viewers.
Have a creative look
Facebook in-stream ads should look different from the surrounding content, i.e., the video they’re attached to. And in order to make them stand out, you can do the following:
- Attach your brand’s logo
- Use clear fonts as well as your brand’s colours
- If you happen to be targeting people who are already familiar with your brand, use an established approach.
Use large print
Facebook themselves suggest that viewers respond well to ads that contain big and clear text. Indeed, most of your target audience, if not all, will be consuming your ads on mobile. So, if you plan on using text on your in-stream ads, make sure that it is simple and sizeable.
It’s also highly recommended that you keep your text to a minimum since it can be annoying if it’s too much.
Back in the day, audio wasn’t a necessity in video ads. Today, however, most people can recognise a brand by its distinct signature sound. If you happen to have one of those, then you’re all set. And if you don’t, then it’s okay. You can use music that best reflects your brand.
If you decide that sound will play a big part in your ads, then we highly recommend that you use captions. You have to always keep in mind that some people consume videos with the sound off. There are also others who have hearing impairments.
You will be missing out on both of these groups if you neglect to include captions on a 15-second ad.
Facebook in-stream ads vs Facebook video ads
The main difference between Facebook in-stream ads and regular video ads is that the latter are standalone ads that appear in a user’s news feed.
Another difference – one we have already discussed – is the length of these ads. While regular news feed video ads can run for 240 minutes, in-stream ads are limited to 120 seconds.
Lastly, Facebook in-stream only have five objectives: reach, event responses, app installs, lead generation, and conversions. Regular news feed video ads, on the other hand, have access to all 11 objectives.
Facebook in-stream ads vs YouTube ads
Facebook in-stream ads are similar to YouTube in-stream ads. Both use video format to capture and convey an interactive message to users on the platforms. Facebook in-stream ads always come in the middle of content and are skippable (after 15 seconds!). YouTube in-stream ads, on the other hand, can come before a video or in the middle of it.
There is also the fact that both Facebook in-stream ads and YouTube in-stream ads can be non-skippable. These ads will usually last no more than 15 seconds in order to not completely interrupt the experience of the viewer.
As for advertising spend, there’s not much data about the exact costs of Facebook in-stream ads on the web. But it’s safe to assume that they are cheaper than their YouTube counterparts since Facebook as a whole tends to be cheaper than YouTube.
Plus, YouTube in-stream ads tend to generate more traffic than Facebook’s in-stream ads. This is the case because in-stream ads on YouTube are the norm. While Facebook in-stream ads don’t see much adoption in comparison to other ad formats such as carousels, regular video ads, etc.
Lastly, there is the fact that creating a Facebook in-stream ad, or any other format for that matter, tends to be easier than YouTube. This is due to Meta’s many attempts at making the platform attractive for entrepreneurs with little to no digital marketing experience.
We can make Facebook Ads work for your business
All the types of Facebook Ads can be hard to tackle for beginners. Worry not, though, as we’re here to help. Book a discovery call with us today, and one of our digital marketing experts will get in touch shortly.