Facebook claims TV is no longer ‘prime time’

Facebook is making a play directly for marketers’ TV budgets, according to a leaked presentation for its user-initiated video ad units, which claims “TV is no longer a guaranteed way to reach and engage your target audience”.

Facebook research

A deck obtained by TechCrunch – which Marketing Week has verified to be genuine by a source close to the company – outlines how Facebook would like its Preferred Marketing Developer partners to pitch advertisers click-to-play video ads on the site.

The presentation looks to highlight the advantages Facebook has over television advertising. It users an eMarketer study, which predicts time spent on digital will overtake time spent with TV this year and Nilesen stats showing Facebook reaches more 18 to 24-year-olds during prime time than the top US TV networks.

“Gone are the days when a family gathered around their TV on Sunday night to connect with the outside world. Television is no longer a guaranteed way to reach and engage your target audience,” the presentation notes read.

Facebook then points out that TV advertising leads to some wastage. It says: “On TV, advertisers don’t always know who people are, and over deliver to certain people and can’t reach other people. So advertisers end up hitting the same people over and over again with a large portion of the audience being underexposed.

”With Facebook you can precisely reach the audience you want and know that your impressions are being delivered to the right people.”

The social network claims the average reach on Facebook for narrowly targeted campaigns is 89 per cent accurate, compared with the 38 per cent online industry average.

It then takes aim at the quality of rival YouTube’s video advertising offering. On Facebook, users choose to press to play video ads, whereas YouTube video ads are preroll – “interrupting the user experience and feeling forced”. Reports have suggested Facebook may introduce automatic play video ads next year, however, after testing the feature for user-uploaded videos in September.

The presentation also reveals Facebook is looking to overhaul its video insights offering in the first quarter of 2014. Currently it only reports on the amount of plays, but it wants to bring its insights more in line with YouTube by offering information on completed views and the average duration of a view.

Facebook is advising its partners to run their video ad campaigns on the site in three phases: “seed”, “blast” and “sustained”, a total package which brings spend with the site more in line with a small TV ad campaign.

A “seed” campaign is a $50,000 to $200,000 “hyper targeted teaser” to start generating buzz, using segmentation tools such as partner categories, custom audiences and competitor’s interest. Next is a “blast” campaign, costing within the region of $500,000 and $1m to drive mass awareness. Finally, Facebook suggests “sustained” media should be bought to reinforce the message, tailoring content to specific audiences.

While the presentation is aimed at US advertisers, Facebook has often compared the effectiveness of its platform to TV over the past few months. Speaking at the IAB conference in October, the company’s vice president of EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn said its large number of UK users is bigger than the 24 million people that tuned in to watch the Olympic Closing Ceremony last year and that a campaign from Pepsi Max starring street magician Dynamo was equivalent to “Channel 4’s top four programmes”. 

Lindsey Clay, the CEO of TV marketing body Thinkbox, says for the pitch to undermine the “fuel” of TV in driving online activity is “short-sighted”.

She adds: “We hope that advertisers will ignore Facebook’s attempts to seduce them with a superficial and highly selective reach argument.  TV has reach plus volume of use.  People are watching as much TV as ever. Most importantly, it has quantity and quality.  And look at the mountains of evidence demonstrating that TV advertising remains peerlessly effective.  That is why TV advertising investment is increasing and marketers are not shifting their focus from TV. Why would they? They know it works.”

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