Commercial breaks are coming to Facebook videos

MANILA, Philippines – Commercial-free Facebook videos may soon be a thing of the past as Facebook ramps up testing for new video ad products. 

In a blog post made on Thursday, February 23 (US time), the social network announced that it has expanded testing for live video ads and has begun testing ads that play in the middle of a pre-recorded video. 

The ad product, "Ad Breaks," is a way for Facebook to add another revenue stream, and is a direct challenger to YouTube and television, format-wise. In terms of ad revenues, Facebook topped traditional media companies in the US for the first time in November 2016. Monetizing its videos could widen the gap further. 

Facebook has been testing Ad Breaks for live videos for a few months now. Today, it expands the program to include more content creators or publishers that fit Facebook's criteria. For a content creator or publisher to qualify for this round of testing, they need to have at least 2,000 or more followers and have recently reached at least 300 viewers in a recent live video. 

Here's how it works: For approved participants, a "$" icon appears in their live video window once they reach 300 concurrent viewers and have been live for at least 4 minutes. The participant then taps on the icon, which leads to an ad that plays for up to 20 seconds. Participants can tap on the "$" icon every 5 minutes at the very least.

Unlike YouTube, Facebook will not show ads before the start of the video – it will only play in the middle. Revenue generated from these ads will be split between Facebook and the publisher – the latter getting 55%, says Business Insider.

Ads for pre-recorded videos

While live video ads have been in testing for a few months now, it's only today that Facebook has begun testing ads for pre-recorded video – and only for a "handful" of partners. In its current form, partners will be able to insert ads into videos they upload or into existing videos in their library. 

"In the coming months we’ll be working with these partners to analyze, learn, and iterate on the early version of this feature. We hope to expand the test to additional partners in the future," says Facebook. 

Facebook also announced that eligible publishers will be able to make money from video ads on off-Facebook apps and websites through the social network's "Audience Network" program.

The ads are currently available only to US broadcasters, but Facebook says it hopes "to expand to additional countries in the future." In short, Philippine social media users have time to enjoy ad-free Facebook videos while digital ad practitioners and publishers have time to reshape their strategies. –