Soon Facebook Live might become more than a stream from a filmer's smartphone camera.
Facebook is currently experimenting with allowing publishers to insert short ad breaks into their Live broadcasts, the company confirmed to AdAge on Monday.
Will the annoyance of sitting through a 15-second ad be overcome by creators' incentive to create high-quality content, assuming that they get a cut of the revenue from the ads? That's the question Facebook is asking, as it takes a cue from YouTube, which already pays its users to create content.
Social media companies' business model has been to provide a free platform for people to interact and share data, which could be used to target ads for them. But now as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter expand into high-quality video content, they're competing to attract the best content-makers, which likely involves making videos revenue-generating for both the platform and the publishers.
Twitter has started placing ads in front of its videos, and will give creators 70 percent of the revenue from sales, as Bloomberg Technology reported. YouTube, the old hand at revenue-sharing with its content makers, developed its program AdSense in 2007 to share revenue with tens of millions of people who film for the site, giving them a 55 percent cut.
Since Facebook Live begins playing automatically as users scroll through their newsfeed, Facebook isn't following the model of inserting front-end ads, which likely wouldn't draw viewers into the content. Instead, Facebook Live is introducing mid-roll videos that won't appear before five minutes into the streamed content and will each last only 15 seconds or less.
Though Facebook won't be sharing revenue with publishers as part of the Facebook Live trial, it's exploring the option. Currently, Facebook plays ads following videos, before beginning a recommended video based on what the user just watched, and 55 percent of this revenue is shared with video-makers.
But publishers tell AdAge they still only end up making fractions of a penny per video view in that system. Facebook is continuing to experiment and consider a number of innovations in advertising, such as personalizing ads for different viewers, so they would see only the ads of most interest to them.
Some brands are choosing to opt out of having their ads appear during live broadcasts, out of concern of an inappropriate match-up, such as having a cheery jingle interrupt the live-stream of a tragedy. Publishers will have the ability to turn off ads if they're covering a sensitive subject, and can identify the categories of advertisers they would like to run, AdAge reported.
While Live commercials are still in development, the potential of Facebook Live videos to gain an audience, and even make sales, is already documented. The live-stream of "Chewbacca mom," a woman who filmed herself laughing hysterically while wearing a mask of the Star Wars character, reached 160 million views, and prompted the mask that she was wearing to sell out from Khol's online.