I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most of you reading this have not thought seriously about Facebook Live yet.
Live is the real-time video streaming service it rolled out just a few months ago (January 2016), but it’s already been used to cover both U.S. presidential nomination conventions, document shootings, and try on the Chewbacca mask watched around the world.
Next week, Live will probably stream quite a lot of Olympic coverage straight from Rio, perhaps outside of scheduled broadcast hours.
Facebook Live Gets Commercial Breaks
It came out this week via Ad Age that Facebook is testing ads in Facebook Live. The stream hasn’t had those yet. In fact, thus far Facebook has been spending money to get top media partners to use the platform without taking steps to monetize it. (Which may be why we’ve seen some of the Facebook Live coverage moments mentioned above, but certainly not all of them.) Live ads can only be a higher priority now that Newsfeed ads are close to selling out (which Heather Fletcher reported on earlier this week).
These ads are in the hands of the media partners. Live video creators can insert the ads any time after five minutes into the Live stream, and they split the revenue with Facebook.
According to Ad Age, the Live test ads are 15-second commercial breaks during the live stream, what you could call mid-roll ads. They can’t appear earlier than five minutes into the Live stream.
Timing Matters Again
So how does this matter to you? I’m not going to say everyone has to go out and start making Facebook Live broadcasts. You might want to consider it for product demos where you want to include more interactivity, or for marketing events you’d like to show to a wider audience, but it is still pretty unproven as a content marketing channel.
Where I think Facebook Live does deserve more attention is as a live advertising channel. And that’s something digital hasn’t really had much of.
TV and radio advertising are tied to event timing. The Super Bowl only happens during four hours a year, after all.
The whole Facebook Live product takes what Periscope and Meerkat were doing and makes them bigger. Facebook is still one of the largest networks on the Web, and Facebook Live events broadcast by major media partners with millions of their own followers have the potential to be something like broadcast TV in the digital environment.
So I would watch very carefully what’s going on with Facebook Live, because it’s one big event away from becoming the new must-watch TV.
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