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Facebook's master plan: attention-grabbing new video ads with captions

Facebook has revealed how it plans to keep mobile ad revenue growing: a new captioned video ad tool for advertisers to help capture your attention for longer.

Published onFebruary 11, 2016


It’s no secret that Facebook makes truck loads of money from its video advertising. Truck loads upon trucks loads, actually: around $17 billion in 2015. So it stands to reason that the world’s largest social networking site wants to make sure that the more than one and a half billion monthly active users don’t simply scroll past ads as easily as we have become accustomed to doing. Facebook is now rolling out a new captioned video captioning tool for marketers that will make those embedded ads almost impossible to ignore.

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The announcement came on the Facebook for Business portal, with a daunting headline of “capture attention with updated features for video ads”. While most of us are probably perfectly happy being relatively immune to advertising in our stream, this doesn’t suit Facebook’s real clientele so well: advertisers. When the advertisers aren’t happy, Facebook isn’t happy.

Facebook captioned video ad
An example of a Facebook captioned video ad by Kleenex.

The post tells marketers: “With people’s growing control over what content they watch and for how long, the faster you communicate your message in a video ad and capture viewers’ attention, the better.” It goes on to outline the new tools being made available over the coming weeks including automated video captioning.

Our new automated captioning tool generates captions for video ads and delivers them to the advertiser within the ad creation tool to review, edit and save to their video ad.

As Facebook notes, captioned videos increases view time by an average of 12%, with a testimony from A&W reporting a 25% increase with a captioned video ad. It’s not clear if Facebook is providing the service to advertisers for free to help the platform make more advertising dollars or whether advertisers will have to pay to use the service. Either way, with 12-25% greater view time you know you’re going to start seeing more captioned videos ads in the near future.

Facebook quarterly earning graph to Q4 2015

Advertising on Facebook has exploded recently, with 57% ad revenue growth YoY in just Q4, 2015. In that quarter, ad revenue represented 96% of Facebook’s total revenue and of that astronomical ad revenue, 80% came from mobile.

You can see the split between mobile (blue) and desktop (red) in the graph below. The green and pink lines represent percentage growth. Whatever Facebook is doing is working well, and the introduction of captioned video ads is sure to see that figure continue to spike just as hard.

Facebook mobile and desktop ad revenue growth

In case you’re curious, the Facebook post gives some advertising examples of successful video ads as well as providing some tips to advertisers, which actually makes for some interesting reading. I’m not saying it will make you any more able to ignore this new breed of super-ad, but knowing how the enemy thinks can’t hurt. Be warned though, there are video ads on the page…

How do you cope with video ads?