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Facebook to trial mid-roll video ads

After years of abstaining from pre-roll ads, Facebook will soon introduce ad breaks in video content. 

The pre-roll ad is a familiar staple of online video, especially on YouTube, where vloggers have used the model to generate revenue. But there’s one dominant platform where you won’t find pre-roll ads on video content: Facebook.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously banned the practice, meaning publishers had to work with advertisers on sponsored content if they wanted to monetise video. And the absence of pre-rolls certainly seemed to have paid off; as of 2016, users were watching 100 million hours of video per day on Facebook.

Pretty soon, however, Facebook will be introducing mid-roll ads, Recode reports. This means publishers will be able to insert ads anywhere into their video content, as long as it is after the 20 second mark.

The 20 second threshold will give advertisers a greater idea of engagement; at present, a video view on Facebook counts as a play of just three seconds or more, however the fact that Facebook videos auto-play as users scroll down their News Feed makes it impossible to read anything meaningful into this.

YouTube currently enables creators to insert ad breaks in videos that run for longer than ten minutes, thus maximising ad revenue. On Facebook, mid-roll ads will only be available on videos which run for 90 seconds or longer, and the ads themselves will be limited to a duration of just 15 seconds, ensuring that users won’t be sat around enduring ad spots which are actually longer than the short-form content they want to watch.

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