In my book, there are two things that make Facebook Ads the greatest PPC system available to us at this point in time.
The outstanding targeting system, with all the different options available to us and the large number of ad types and customization options we have
It didn’t take us long to realize that video ads, for example, were an incredible tool that we should all be utilizing a little more.
Users were stopping to watch them in the feed, and everyone would rather watch a thirty-second video on Facebook instead of seeing an ad that takes thirty seconds to read.
And with so many options for both video ad formats and ad placements, there’s a lot to test. Facebook live ads are one of those video options.
In this post, you’re going to learn about how to use Facebook live ads both as a marketer and a live streamer.
Facebook live ads have benefits both for the marketers running the ad campaign and the live streamers who allow the ads to be shown during their broadcast.
These live ads still aren’t something we’re seeing a lot of yet, because a lot of people don’t even realize that they’re an option.
At the end of this post, you won’t be “a lot of people” anymore!
What Are Facebook Live Ads?
Many Facebook users have now seen the video mid-roll ads, where short ad videos will interrupt certain organic videos on Facebook.
According to Mark Zuckerberg himself, Facebook went for mid-roll ads instead of pre-roll because the latter didn’t align with the platform.
People weren’t on Facebook, after all, to watch video content, they were there to scroll through the feeds and see a large number of content. If Facebook content had video ads playing before the video, people wouldn’t stop to watch.
Mid-roll ads, however, counted on them being engaged enough to stick around. (This, however, may be changing, with the platform testing pre-roll ads in the watch tab).
Facebook live ads work a lot like that. Almost exactly like that, in fact.
During a live broadcast, certain broadcasters will see the option to take a short break and have an ad play during that time. Users will be shown a brief Facebook video ad, and then the live broadcast would resume.
Live ads are hardly being used right now, partially because only a small niche of Pages actually qualify for them, but that just gives you more of an opportunity to take advantage of them. And, since Facebook is running out of space in the newsfeed and Pages’ reach are about to sink, even more, having more placement options for Facebook Ads is only a good thing.
Can Live Ads Run on Instagram, Too?
You can go live on Instagram, but the live video ads are currently only for Facebook live streams.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this change at some point, since it would provide an additional method of monetization for both users and Facebook.
As it currently stands, though, Instagram live streamers are currently not able to take this version of a commercial break for profit.
Who Can Run Live Video Ads?
On the live streaming side, not everyone has the ability to run video ads in their live broadcast. Facebook is still pretty strict about this and this is actually a good thing, especially for marketers.
The last thing Facebook and its advertisers need is a bunch of self-impressed “influencers” and “gurus” with non-existing audiences to run a live broadcast and then show ad after ad, just trying to earn some cash.
This significantly reduces the risk of advertisers having their video ads getting only two impressions.
You can currently only run a live video ad if:
- You have more than 50,000 followers and have reached 300 or more concurrent viewers in a recent live video. This number used to only be 2,000 followers, but in December Facebook made these guidelines much stricter.
- You are a Facebook Page.
- Your current live video has reached at least 300 concurrent viewers.
- You’ve been live for at least 4 minutes. After that, you can run another ad if you’ve waited for a minimum of 5 minutes from your last break.
Pages meeting these qualifications can take ad breaks during their live broadcast.
That being said, as far as I can see, the feature is currently only available for U.S. live streamers to take advantage of currently.
If you check a post from about a year ago about Facebook Live Ads, these qualifications are going to look a lot different.
Previously, both Pages and profiles who had at least 2,000 followers were able to take ad breaks during live video streams. As of December, Facebook rolled that back, however, making it a lot stricter in order to increase ad revenue and make sure the content being published met their guidelines.
Facebook Live Ads for Live Streamers
We’re going to look at Facebook Live Ads from both the live streamers’ perspective and the advertisers’ perspective.
If you’re only here for learning about how to have your video ads show up during live streams, go ahead and skip to the “Facebook Live Ads for Marketers” section.
Live streamers, after all, will have very different considerations to keep in mind when deciding if and when they want to run ads during their broadcast.
If it’s something you’re thinking about, we’ve got everything that you need to know.
What Are the Benefits for Live Streamers?
Of course before we go any further, this is the question we should answer, right? Why, in many cases, is more important than how.
While it’s nice getting a thirty-second break to drink a glass of water or rearrange something quickly, there’s really just one big reason streams considering this option: money.
Live streamers who take a quick commercial break during their broadcast can actually monetize their Facebook video content. This is a pretty big deal, because Facebook has majorly been pushing video– including live video– for quite some time now.
The ability for Pages and profiles to monetize video content with ads now makes Facebook a little more competitive with YouTube, which has long given users the option to monetize their own content by enabling ads. Since Facebook is both trying to increase placements for ads and push for more on-platform video, this initiative makes a lot of sense and there’s no doubt it will help draw in more original native video content as a result.
This comes at an important time, because at one point Facebook was paying certain high-performing pages to actually publish live broadcasts, with no ad display required. That program ended last December, so this will offer new ways for Pages with high follower counts to continue to monetize the platform.
I haven’t been able to find any reliable information about exactly how much revenue streamers can earn per view, but Facebook has definitely agreed to give “a share” of revenue to the video live streamers.
How to Take a Commercial Break for Facebook Live
Do you meet all of the qualifications and want to start monetizing your videos?
Taking an ad break is actually really simple.
Four minutes into your live broadcast, if you have the required number of viewers, you’ll see a bright blue $ mark in the comments with a highlighted message saying “You can take an ad break now.”
This will appear in the comments section of your live dashboard.
All you have to do is click on it, and your views will be shown an ad that lasts up to 20 seconds.
Your live broadcast will resume after the ad break.
After an additional five minutes, you’ll see the option to take another ad break if you so choose.
How to Run a Live Ad Without Losing Viewers
Being able to run a live video ad on your broadcast is currently only something that a small portion of Facebook Pages can do because it requires massive audiences.
You still want to make sure that if you choose to broadcast, however, you don’t lose viewers. Not only could this potentially ding the ad revenue you could earn from Facebook, you also want users to stick around for the end of your live video.
Here’s a few ways you can ensure that viewers will stick around through the ad break:
- Make sure they’re engaged before you take that break. Are you getting a lot of reactions on the video? Are people leaving comments that are actually relevant to your live, and your viewer count has been holding steady without a lot of drop off? You’re probably good to take a break. An engaged audience will stick around for 20 seconds (at least for the most part).
- Explain that you’re going to take a quick ad break before you actually do. If you suddenly cut to another video ad without warning, this will confuse users, especially since this isn’t a common feature. You also don’t want users to feel like you’re just using their views to cash in a check and that you don’t care about them. Before you take the ad break, just say “Alright, we’re going to take a 20-second ad break, but then we’ll be back.” Be transparent, because no one wants to feel like they’re being duped. Especially not on social media.
- Tease information before the break. Want to really make sure that users stick around? When you say that you’re going to be taking the ad break, tease users with information that will keep them around. Think “Right when we get back, we’ll answer the question that all of you have been asking!” and “You don’t want to miss the last half of our live where we’ll share a big announcement about the company moving forward.” It’s simple, but there’s a reason cliffhangers are so effective at keeping users to tune in week after week, waiting to see what happens next. (I’m looking at you, This is Us).
- Mention the break in the video comments. When users first come to your live, the last thing you want them to see is a video ad and not understand what they’re seeing. Leave a comment on your own live broadcast announcing the break so new viewers will be clued in about what’s happening.
How to Get More Viewers on Your Live Video
Want to get more views on your live video to try to qualify for ad breaks? Here’s a few strategies you can use:
- Schedule your live video in advance. This makes it easier to promote your event and allows you to put a description and title of what the event will be, increasing its visibility and the likelihood that users will remember to watch. They can even choose to set up a notification that will tell them when you go live.
- Post about it regularly, sharing the scheduled link. Let users know through several posts (including on other social channels) that you’ll be going live. Go over what you’ll be discussing, and if there’s a particular incentive to watch– like an exclusive announcement or the ability to ask questions to an influencer– make sure to mention it.
- Tag other influencers. Are you going to be joined by any guests? Tag them in the posts announcing the live video, and list their name in the description and/or title when you schedule the live in advance. This helps increase reach and encourages your fellow guests to share the stream with their audience, too.
We’ve looked at the live streamers’ side, now it’s time to take a close look at a Facebook Live video ads from the advertiser’s perspective.
In this section, we’re going to take a look at the benefits and risks that come with live video ads, how to set them up, and best practices to maximize your results.
What Are the Benefit for Marketers?
The biggest benefit of live video ad placements for advertisers is that you’re showing your ad to a really, really engaged audience. For reference, live video gets 3x more views than traditional on-platform video, and it gets as many as 10x more comments. This is the type of audience you want to see your ad; they’re watching, and they’re watching closely.
If the live video is particularly valuable to users, you’re also looking at a captive audience who is pretty much held “hostage”. This means that they’ll pay more attention to your ad while they wait for their video to resume. Since it’s a live broadcast, after all, they may not want to risk missing the chance to ask a question or comment in real time.
Ultimately, having an additional ad placement available is also a big plus. Facebook Ads has come close to running out of room, with the ad system becoming more in demand than ever now that Facebook Zero approaches and brings about sunken organic reach like some sort of bizarre social media grim reaper. More placements means more opportunity to have your ad shown to the right target audience.
What Are The Risks?
I honestly think the risks of live video ad placements are very low for advertisers, but there still is some risk so it’s good to mention it.
And it’s a simple one: your video ad could easily be shown during a live video that you don’t want your brand name to be associated with, for example.
You never, ever know what will happen with live videos, and neither does Facebook. There’s no way to censor what types of content your ad will be shown alongside.
People are live streaming content that falls under every category out there, ranging from inappropriate to downright shockingly violent. While the risk of your video being shown during one of these horrific live streams has gone down since Facebook upped the requirement for 50,000 followers, this risk has been minimized.
That being said, would a family friendly business want to risk having their ad show up in a Kim Kardashian live, not knowing what she was going to do next? Probably not.
Is this a big risk? No, I don’t think so. After all, any mid-roll video ad could post the same problem. But it’s still out there, so I still wanted to include it.
How to Create Content for Facebook Live Video Ads
Any ads that you want to have run during Facebook live video ads need to be 20 seconds or less or they’ll automatically be disqualified. Facebook recommends keeping in-stream video ads at 15 seconds or less, though, so I’d personally shoot for that.
For the physical aspect ratios, Facebook recommends a full landscape aspect ratio of 16:9 in order to match the video inventory.
When you’re creating the ad itself, I’ve had the best luck with in-stream video ads when I choose the video views ad objective.
Once you do this, under placements, you’ll select “in-stream videos” under Facebook, which will enable both traditional mid-roll ads and live stream video ads. You can select in-stream videos for the audience network, too, but note that these won’t play on Facebook and instead will appear in the audience network.
If you want to prevent your videos from being displayed in the video feeds of certain users or certain types of content, that’s actually an option. (Take that, Kardashian clan!).
To prevent your ad from being shown during ad breaks of specific publishers, you can create an actual block list with certain Pages’ URLs.
This is 100% effective.
As nice as these block lists are (and they’re exceptionally helpful if you would want to, for example, avoid having your ad run on an obnoxious YouTube star’s channel), I think the “exclude categories” capability will be more valuable overall.
You can prevent your ads from appearing in videos that fall under the categories of social issues, mature content, tragedy, dating, or gambling.
All of these are hot topics, and the last thing you need is for your resort to be advertising family-friendly vacations during a live video discussing a school shooting. Even though it wouldn’t be in your control, it’s a situation you just don’t really want to put yourself into.
As a general rule of thumb, I automatically eliminate all of these categories that I can. It’s better to not take risks and end up having Facebook place your ad in a way that would be perceived as tone deaf, if not inappropriate.
Facebook Live Video Ad Best Practices
Alright, you’re ready to run some in-stream video ads and to take advantage of those engaged live audiences.
Want to get the best results? Of course, you do. Here’s a few strategies and best practices that you should keep in mind:
- Tell a story. I know that fifteen seconds is not a lot of time to tell a story. Trust me, I get that. But it can be done. Choose a video that has story elements, like characters or a problem that needs to be solved. These stories should appeal to viewer’s emotions in some way, because that’s what they’ll remember most. You only have a short amount of time to win them over, so make it count. (And for the record, emotions don’t just mean sad and angry; joy, love, and excitement all count, too.)
- Keep your message very clear. This isn’t the time to try to cram in a ton of different objectives, hoping one will stick. Have one clear message, whether that’s who you are, what your mission statement is, or what you can do for viewers.
- Target cold audience members. Statistically speaking, after all, it would be fairly unlikely that most of your ad’s viewers will be familiar with your brand. Take advantage of that; you have 15 full seconds to introduce them to your brand and show some of the value that your brand can provide. Keep this in mind and create short video content designed to appeal to users at the top of the digital sales funnel.
Facebook live video ads won’t be for everyone.
This is true for those on both the live streamers’ and the advertisers’ side of the equation.
There are inherent risks for both parties, but there are also clear benefits for each at stake.
Personally, I’d weigh the pros and cons of each option before choosing whether live ads are right for you and your brand, and weigh them against your direct business objectives and the goals you’re focusing on with social media.
Brands who are trying to nurture relationships with customers may not want to take that commercial break if there isn’t a natural pause in the content, but if monetization is the end game, full steam ahead. Similarly, some brands may prefer to have their videos shown in the newsfeed, though it never hurts to test out different ad placements to see what works best for you.
Facebook live video ads aren’t being used a lot, and as the feature becomes more widely recognized, it will be interesting to see if that changes. And, if it does, I can’t wait to see how it will impact live broadcasting moving forward.
What do you think? Have you used Facebook live ads? Have you seen them as a user? Would you use them on your own channels, or would you be annoyed as a user if they popped up during a stream you were watching? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions in the comments below!