Inside Facebook’s Bid to Woo TV Advertisers

November 1, 2019

Facebook is working hard to convince TV and digital advertisers to spend money on its 2-year-old video platform, Facebook Watch, particularly with its In-Stream Reserve ad product, which curates inventory from Watch’s top video channels, including content category-specific options.

While Facebook has managed to take some ad dollars from traditional TV at this spring’s upfronts, the company still has more convincing to do, say ad buyers.

Digiday spoke to ad agency executives who said more advertisers are interested in Facebook Watch headed into 2020 than they were last year. Watch ads have also performed well for many clients in terms of brand recall and lift, said Mike Dossett, vp and director of digital strategy for RPA Advertising.

Still, most advertisers view Facebook Watch as being in an experimental stage, and they want more answers about content quality, brand safety, delivery and discovery. They also wonder how Watch can compete in the increasingly heated streaming wars.

“Advertisers are less likely to invest in Facebook Watch and newer things because they’re just like, ‘Well, the other stuff hasn’t worked as effectively as I was told it would, so what’s my confidence that this would as well?’ And the price tag that they’re expecting is pretty high. When you take into account it’s a walled garden and you’re getting limited to no measurement back, you’re kind of like, what am I doing here?” said one ad agency executive.

With regard to brand safety, Facebook’s head of North American agency partnerships, Erik Geisler, told agency executives gathered for a Watch event this week in New York City that every single video monetized through In-Stream Reserve goes through human review — not just an algorithm.

Still, not all ad agency executives are convinced that’s enough. Jordan Jacobson, vp and head of social media at iProspect, said that while advertisers can exclude up to 3,000 publishers in Reserve, Facebook keeps adding more, so it’s hard to be completely confident about brand safety. And there are still pieces of content that brands may not want to be associated with.

Another ad agency executive told Digiday that clients who paused their video ads on Facebook did so because they felt they didn’t have “enough control over where their ad appears and being able to suppress the channels or the videos they don’t want to be associated with.”

“Until there is more of a bespoke whitelisting opportunity, there will always be some concerns around brand safety,” said Carly Carlson, director of social for PMG.

See the whole story here in Digiday, with comments from our VP of Paid Media & OTT Lead, Jesse Math

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