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Facebook Auto-Play Video Ads vs. Twitter Promoted Video: Which Is Better for Advertisers?
// Alison Hill - September 10, 2014

Mobile device usage is ubiquitous. It is arguably the best way for brands to reach their target audience, whether it is considered the first or second screen. But as consumers are becoming increasingly more selective with their ad engagement this means the ad arsenal needs a game changer.

Very recently, the mobile advertising landscape changed dramatically when both Facebook and Twitter launched native mobile in-feed video ad capabilities. These ads appear within the regular content stream (“in-line”) of both apps. Like any “native” ad formats, these are also designed to look non-promotional.

These native mobile video ads deliver the trifecta of user engagement: they are streamlined and non-invasive, users love how they clearly the convey information, and they are easily shareable.

Why is the launch of native mobile video ads more important than any other ad?

The mobile advertising industry is all about speed and fluidity. Ads must grab attention quickly in an extremely noisy, competitive environment. Consumers tire quickly of novel new approaches and messaging. To combat this fatigue, new features and formats are constantly developing.

Why is this particular format a game changer?

#1 – Engagement Is King, and These Rule Engagement

#2 – Brands Are Thinking Like Consumers

Users have extremely short (and getting shorter) attention spans; it continues to take more to gain their interest. Research on standard mobile banner engagement, which can essentially only be measured in CTR (.35%), versus standard mobile video banner engagement (15.6%) shows that video works better. Engagement rates go up even more when you start looking at standard mobile native ads (39.1%).(1)

While mobile native video is certainly an extension of standard native advertising, and possibly even an outgrowth of the Content Marketing movement, the important thing is that ADVERTISERS ARE THINKING LIKE CONSUMERS. And this will, ultimately, help boost engagement through the roof.

Native mobile video ads have the power to change the advertising game for brands. In the first quarter of 2014 video completion rates for the format were 81.6%.(2) Media plans and budgets need to change. So far 32% of CMOs say they have bought or are planning to buy native video advertising in the next 6 months.(3) They need to ensure that a good portion of that is for mobile.

So, Facebook or Twitter?

The Facebook or Twitter choice really depends on your mobile advertising goals and budget. Both have robust targeting capabilities, large scale, and over time have developed unique audiences. Ideally as part of a comprehensive mobile marketing plan you should start with a mix of both, then test and adjust spend as needed.

There are some of the very major differences between the two:

Facebook Premium Video Ads Facebook Traditional Video Ads Twitter Promoted Videos
Functionality Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
Play motion and sound with one click
Pricing Model Targeted Gross Ratings Points (based on television standard) Cost Per Click (CPC) OR Impressions (CPM) Cost Per View (CPV) (based on video start of play)

Facebook: Facebook Premium Video Ads are functionally a winner. They silently roll as soon as you scroll to them in your feed, making them immediately eye-catching. They are not intrusive since you simply scroll past them to ignore, just like any other content. To engage, click to turn on the sound and expand to full screen.  

However, from a pricing and availability perspective these ads are not for everyone. They are reported to cost as much as $1 million per day(4) and only a limited number of advertisers are being accepted. While you can audience target, the ads are filtered by a user’s historical affinity for video content, so not everyone in your intended audience may see them.

Facebook just announced that it is expanding the auto-play functionality to its traditional video ads as well with a more approachable CPM or CPC pricing model.

Twitter: Twitter Promoted Videos are accessible to all advertisers. Like Facebook, these ads are included in the user content feed. However, they are completely unobtrusive, not playing in any way until the user interacts with the still video. Once the user taps on it, motion and audio begin. At that time it is also counted as a view for billing.

While Twitter says this less intrusive model is better, it is unclear yet how engagement rates will compare. Also somewhat fuzzy is pricing based on the initial video play. While it is definitely more accessible for most than the Facebook model, there is still some room for improvement. If the video isn’t engaging, play time is extremely short, or it is an accidental play; then the ROI may be better with a static native ad that conveys the message immediately.

A third option

There is only one other provider of native mobile video ads. Pinsight Media+ incorporates elements of both social media giants, with perhaps an even more effective pricing model.

Pinsight Native Mobile Video Ads
Functionality Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
Pricing Model Cost Per Completed View (based on video completion)

Functionally, Pinsight Media’s native mobile video is very similar to Facebook. Ads are included in Pinsight’s extensive network of owned and operated properties. The ad auto-plays when the user scrolls to it and audio engagement happens with a single click. Audience targeting, reporting, streaming, quality, and scale are all top tier.

Pinsight’s pricing model is much like Twitter’s or Facebook’s standard ads with one major difference: Pinsight’s advertisers pay only for completed video views. Pinsight’s model assures there are no wasted views due to false starts, short views, or mass purchased views.

Change your game NOW

Mobile media changes fast; it is increasingly pervasive and constantly transforming. But as audience engagement becomes more challenging it is clear that native mobile video is the best weapon in an advertiser’s arsenal today.  Right now Facebook and Twitter offer two dramatically different options, while Pinsight Media offers a third with strong elements of both.  Try testing all three in your media plan to see which mix works best for your audience.

  1. The Evolution of Mobile Display Advertising - Celtra
  2. Report: Mobile Video Ad Consumption Rises, Native Video Ads Yielding Higher Engagement Rates - Marketing Land
  3. Mind-Blowing Stats About Native Advertising - CMO
  4. Brands Face Tough Screening for Facebook Video Ads - WSJ