Are Facebook Video Ads a Clueless Concept?

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Facebook users are relentlessly bombarded with advertising. First, there were the ads on the side of the page, tailored to your interests based on location, what you talk about, and what you search. Then brand pages asking for likes…which makes you a free advertiser. Then came the inline “promoted posts.” And coming soon, the final insult – commercials. Right there in your feed. wait...there's a quarter inch of white space between columns...MORE ADS! and what about facebook video ads on top...?

What effect will Facebook video ads have on social marketing campaigns? Will ad-weary users embrace more in-your-face marketing, ignore it altogether, or abandon Facebook for the next social phenomenon? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Expion recently took a look at the top 50 most-engaged brands on Facebook, and the overall results were not encouraging. Luxury retailers came out on top, while overall brand engagement was down by 16% across the board. Graphics dominated the scene; 80% of retailer posts featured graphics, as opposed to just 3% that featured videos. Users clearly preferred quality over quantity, preferring to share clever posts, photos of expensive baubles and trendy clothing over pedestrian company news and dull, predictable product ads.

The Dilemma: Cost vs Viral

The cost of Facebook video ads is reputed to be astronomical. Like superbowl-commercial astronomical. Once an advertiser lays out a cool $2.5 million, they get a year of aggressive placement designed to annoy a much broader audience. Unlike most Facebook ad strategies, the ads will be targeted only to age and gender. In a market already saturated with ads…where social engagement has already proven more successful, introducing old-school commercials could be a costly risk.

In a report released in August, Morgan Stanley predicted the outrageously priced video ads will generate more than $1 billion in revenues in 2014. While the reach potential is hard to deny, the money might be better spent on producing content designed to engage the public.

The Scarecrow, recently released by Chipotle Mexican Grill, is a brilliant example. The beautifully illustrated video is not so much ad as brand storytelling. Using stunning animation backed by a heartbreaking (and slightly creepy) Fiona Apple cover of “Pure Imagination”, the video touches on a subject near and dear to social, political, and health-conscious Facebook users: giant corporate control and abuse of the food supply.

Without overtly trying to sell, the video draws a clear line between everything we hate about Monsanto and other megalith food corporations and what is better for us – locally sourced, freshly made, organic foods harvested by real farmers. Otherwise known as the Chipotle concept.

The resulting effect has powerful emotional impact. The film’s beauty, entertainment value, and message are interesting, and the response has been impressive. Ten days after the video was posted on YouTube, it had already logged six million views.

If the film alone isn’t attractive enough, it’s tied to the launch of the Chipotle Scarecrow video game app for Apple iPhone and iPad. And there’s a contest. Since the retail value of each prize is set at $6 to $8, I’m guessing it’s Chipotle food. Genius…

…but not above a good skewering by

And the point is…

This is the heart of social media. Instead of putting money into advertising placement, Chipotle invested in a product people want to share. It’s that simple. Engaging the imagination of fans with quality offerings is what social media marketing is all about.

Many retailers are already missing the point of social media by using Facebook to push one-way messaging noone is interested in sharing. As a result, engagement with these brands is down. Others have a better understanding of the way social media works and spend their efforts on true social media campaigns, complete with responsive engagement and share-worthy content.

Facebook video ads are an expensive gamble that could easily backfire on advertisers who don’t get it. Although a huge number of people will see the ads, the real question is whether retailers with deep enough pockets to afford premium placement will have the savvy to create social engagement, or will they rely on the same antiquated marketing methods consumers are already sick of. Only one thing is certain. No matter what happens to the profits of retailers who spend big bucks to be seen (or ignored), the real winner will be Facebook.


Sherry Gray

Sherry Gray

Freelance writer
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She's a science geek, a political junkie, and... Read Full Bio
Sherry Gray
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  • floriefe may

    This could only go down to one question. Are those advertisers willing to risk?

    I mean retailers have to consider things and how you play the game. It’s either you invest for advertising and eager to come up a worthy content? Or jus sit in there without even trying. There are many things to consider but it would definitely be decided by the retailers.

    Thank you for sharing Sherry! 🙂

    • Sherry Gray

      You’re right, of course. No business would spend that kind of coin without due diligence…they must have reason to expect ROI. But Facebook users are notoriously picky. Move something from the left side to the right and they completely lose it. So I can’t wait to see what happens when ads pop up, lol. Be interesting to track company revenue, though. I’ll follow the money and see where it leads 😀

  • Anshulseo

    Hi sherry,
    Yes I agree,Facebook is the social media site which the whole world is using…So it is the best place to advertise some product or something…But this is also true that there is a large competition between brands on social media as well..So it is necessary to spent money on quality ads because people will response to the worth content to them….Thanks for sharing.

    • Sherry Gray

      Thanks! I wonder how many companies will invest all that money in placement and then waste it on ads nobody wants to watch. Hulu comes to mind. At the end of the video, I can tell you I saw a commercial about a car…no way I’m remembering what kind. I am numb to traditional commercials…and I think I’m typical.

  • Bharat Rawat

    Yes its will be so effective for the marketers because every one like to pay for the business he is gaining so its the directly the same thing. Every advertiser pay for the every ROI.

    • Sherry Gray

      So you think the ROI will be worth the cost?

      • Bharat Rawat

        Yes Sherry i think so this will be very effective.

      • Sherry Gray

        I don’t know if I hope you’re right, lol. If not, Facebook may have to scale back on the advertising onslaught. As a user, I would welcome fewer ads.