POV: Facebook Mid-Roll Roll Out

Mindshare Point of View

Facebook announced the expansion of mid-roll video ads beyond its own platform to “eligible” outside publishers (i.e., Facebook Live partners).  In the near future, mid-rolls, which run like commercial breaks during digital video streams, are also expected to be available for live streaming content (Reuters has reported that Facebook has been considering Major League Baseball as a content partner).

Details and Implications

  • Mid-roll ad placements are only within videos which are a minimum of 90 seconds in length; videos must play for a minimum of 20 seconds before a mid-roll ad can be delivered; there is a mid-roll ad length cap of 15 seconds (vs. YouTube’s 30 second cap).
  • Publisher pages require 2k+ followers + 300 viewers/video to join Facebook Live
  • Controlling ad auction and delivery through Facebook Audience Network places Facebook as  “middleman” between publisher and agency/client
  • Facebook provides publishers 55% of the ad sale when the ad runs on its own properties; the company does not disclose revenue split from ads running on publisher owned sites.

Year over year, there has been a 94% rise in people posting social network videos in the US.  Facebook’s video mid-roll is intended to help high quality content providers see returns on investment. However, should Facebook include mid-rolls in live streams, disruption of consumer viewing experience could impact engagement and ROI.

Facebook’s new mid-roll expansion will require measurement adjustment.  Currently, Facebook counts a view as any video that’s played for a minimum of three seconds—even in auto play mode. The mid-roll advertising offering, where the mid-roll can only begin playing at the 20-second mark, will impact how a view on Facebook is counted. Furthermore, Facebook has separately announced that it will default to sound ‘on’ moving forward (though consumers will still control sound from their own devices).

Facebook has generally been upgrading measurement offerings in the past few months. A marketing mix modeling portal to aid in comparison of ads running on Facebook vs other channels/platforms and a formation of a Measurement Council to elicit industry feedback, as well as more 3rd party verification partners.


It seems likely that Facebook will do a better job than competitors of delivering more personalized ads through its ability to target individuals with data gleaned from its social network. Mid-rolls are expected to help, positioning Facebook as a higher quality content site, engaging consumers for longer periods of time with content that competes with Facebook’s digital competitors (YouTube, Snapchat, etc.)