Despite protestations from some quarters over the blurring of boundaries between editorial content and advertising, native ads have emerged as a powerful tool for publishers to monetize digital media and for marketers to cut through the clutter and get their messages across to consumers. Now that this form of advertising is firmly established in text- and image-based environments, the next logical step is video, according to a new eMarketer report, “Native Video Advertising: Effective, but Still a Work in Progress.”
BIA/Kelsey, which has been tracking native advertising within social media since at least 2012, recently forecast that US native social media ad spending would reach $18.4 billion in 2019, over 240.7% more than the $5.4 billion estimated for 2014.
Two pillars of Facebook’s monetization strategy—the shift to in-feed advertising and the migration to mobile—put the leading social network at the center of the native advertising ecosystem. This means the vast majority of Facebook’s nearly $7.9 billion in advertising revenues in the first nine months of 2014 came from native formats (in-feed on desktop, in-stream on mobile).
To date, little of Facebook’s native ad inventory has consisted of video assets, but that’s about to change. The company has signaled a major push toward video advertising beginning this year, and early signs are starting to appear in users’ feeds. In December 2014, native video ads on Facebook included a 30-second TV-repurposed spot from Ford Motor Co., an extended trailer for the Warner Bros. film “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and two ads from Verizon Wireless: a 6-second Vine-style clip and a 30-second spot.
Most of those newsfeed ads did not play automatically, suggesting they were purchased on a cost-per-click basis. Facebook also sells autoplay native video ads on a CPM basis. RBC estimated that Facebook would sell $700 million worth of autoplay native video ads in 2015 alone.
Regardless of how Facebook video ads are bought, and whether they play automatically or have to be initiated by the user, they fit the description of native advertising and are poised to become a huge revenue driver for the social network—and for native video advertising in general.