To this point, Facebook has resisted the pre-roll advertising format that is common around the online video industry. As the social media giant continues to incubate a lineup of original shows, however, it appears to be shifting its strategy. According to a report from AdAge, Facebook will test short spots that will play in front of content on the four-month-old Watch tab.
AdAge‘s report cites ad industry sources, who believe Facebook plans to limit its pre-roll experiment to the Watch tab. Videos that show up on the news feeds of individual users will continue to launch without ads, though they may sometimes feature so-called “mid-rolls” that appear in the middle of their runtime.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated on several occasions that he does not feel pre-rolls fit with Facebook’s brand, mostly because he believes users do not want to be immediately interrupted as they browse social content. For that reason, the site has favored mid-rolls, and has limited those breaks to videos that exceed 90 seconds.
By testing pre-rolls, however, Facebook would potentially open up a new format for marketers, who have a lot of high-quality supply to choose from in the saturated online video landscape. The launch of pre-rolls could provide a boost to the shows on Watch, many of which come from notable producers and run for a half-hour per episode.
As Facebook reportedly tinkers with its ad formats, it is also solidifying its Watch lineup moving forward. It recently renewed at least five shows for second seasons, including entries featuring Mike Rowe, LaVar Ball, and Nicole Byer.