March 14, 2014, 10:20 AM

Facebook rolls out video ads

The social network is making the 15-second ads  available to a select group of advertisers. The videos start playing without sound. When a consumer clicks or taps the video, it expands to full screen and the sound comes on. Facebook began testing video ads in December.

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Video ads have officially arrived on Facebook.

The social network says it is making its Premium Video Ads available to a select group of advertisers.

The 15-second videos, which appear in users’ news feeds, start playing without sound. When a consumer clicks or taps the video, the video expands to take up the user’s full screen and the sound comes on. Consumers will begin to see the ads over the next few months, Facebook says.

Facebook says that marketers should approach the ads in the same way they buy and measure TV ads. Advertisers buy the ads based on “targeted gross rating points,” which measure impressions in relation to the number of consumers in a specific target audience. Facebook is working with Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings to measure the ads’ delivery.

Facebook is also working with marketing measurement firm Ace Metrix to score the ads’ “creative quality” before they are eligible to appear in users’ news feeds. The Ace Metrix measurement system produces a score based on the following characteristics:

  • Persuasion, which examines whether an ad grabs consumers’ attention and sparks a desire for more information.
  • “Watchability,” which measures whether consumers would like to watch the ad again.

“We’re taking this step in order to maintain high-quality ads on Facebook and help advertisers understand what’s working to maximize their return on investment,” writes Susan Buckner, Facebook’s product marketing manager, in a blog post.

The social network began testing the video ads in December after months of speculation and public comments by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, and Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer. For instance, during Facebook’s third quarter earnings call, Sandberg said video is a “very compelling way for marketers to tell their story.”

The new ads offer marketers another way to engage with consumers, writes Buckner.

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