Facebook considers launching mobile pre-roll video advertising formats for Watch platform

Facebook is apparently testing pre-roll video ads for its Watch platform shows.

If true, the move marks a significant u-turn in the company’s policy after it rejected pre-roll ad formats, because they were annoying. Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously stated the format was not suitable for the social media network.

However, things seem to have changed. Back in August, the company launched Watch in the US – a platform that allows users to stream content from publishers as well as other creators.

Video has been widely hyped as a leading content format and Facebook couldn’t be left behind. The social network has also demonstrated good performance of its live videos in the traditional News Feed.

Despite their meagre reputation, pre-roll video ad formats may not be as disruptive as previously thought according to a survey by IPG Media Lab and YuMe earlier this year. Just 17% out of 6,000 respondents said the mid-roll format was interruptive. Over half (54%) found pre-roll formats engaging, compared to 37% for out-stream and 44% for mid-roll video ad formats.

Given the relatively short format of videos on Watch, pre-roll ads may not be deemed intrusive. Indeed, loyal content followers may be more inclined to view commercials before a video clip.

The move would certainly be good news for advertisers. Whilst Facebook’s News Feed makes it easy to over-scroll advertising, the pre-roll ads would guarantee views.

Although the social network has previously introduced mid-roll ads, publishers have commented that the format was not ideal whilst viewers have commented on them being annoying. Despite this, mid-roll ads performed at completion rates of 70%.

It remains to be seen how pre-roll ads will perform, but if they do well it’s certainly a good opportunity for marketers and a potential gold mine for Facebook.