Facebook vs. YouTube: Video Advertising Wars

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Facebook vs. YouTube: Video Advertising Wars

Much like the anticipated matchup of Creed vs. Drago in the upcoming Creed II (I’ve already bought my tickets), there’s been a second battle materializing online that’s sure to be a hit with advertisers.

With a slew of new feature announcements, it’s becoming clear that social networking giants Facebook and YouTube are sizing each other up when it comes to becoming the #1 place for video advertising. You would assume YouTube would be the clear frontrunner for this title, but you can never count Facebook out, especially when there’s so much to gain. It’s reported that 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week, with more than 500 million hours of videos watched on YouTube each day. Pair these stats with viewers saying they retain 95% of a message when it’s presented in video format compared to text, and there’s a whole lot of money to be made.

Between Facebook and YouTube, who would you bet on? Though it’s too early to name a winner, here are the current standings:

In this corner, from Menlo Park, California, weighing in at 2.2 billion monthly active users and 30,275 employees, please welcome to the ring: Facebook!

In a recent blog post, Facebook announced a bevy of new video ad options in response to advertisers requesting more control over ad placements.

1) In-Stream Reserve

This option will let advertisers target consumers who watch videos made by a select group of “the most engaging, highest quality publishers and creators.” The target audiences are verified by Nielsen and located in the US.

Additionally, new In-Stream Reserve Categories will allow advertisers to choose content packages in unique categories, specifically in fashion/beauty, sports and entertainment, bought in the same way as In-Stream Reserve. For example, if you’re selling sunglasses and you only want to show your ads on related review or unboxing videos, this option will allow you to accomplish that.

2) ThruPlay

ThruPlay is another video ad option that will allow advertisers to only pay for ads that are either watched to completion or for a minimum of 15 seconds. It’s available through Facebook’s video placement network, which includes Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network.

3) Facebook Watch Ads

For advertisers looking to advertise or become the exclusive advertiser for one specific Facebook Watch program, you’re in luck, as this option is also being tested. Anyone else as obsessed with Red Table Talk as I am? Adopt me, Smith family!

And in this corner, owned by Google, the second-most popular website in the world, with more than 400 hours of content uploaded each and every minute: YouTube!

With Facebook releasing features that sound remarkably close to some of YouTube’s established offerings (ThruPlay, for example, sounds a lot like YouTube’s skippable ad format called TrueView), YouTube is focusing on making their video ad options more actionable and convenient for viewers.

1) Calls-To-Action

The platform announced that they are testing ads that will provide marketers and brands the ability to engage with people through call-to-action (CTA) messages. Through TrueView in-stream ads, YouTube is trialing extensions that will let viewers complete actions like:

  • Looking up movie times
  • Booking a vacation
  • Watching related videos

Vodafone, one of the brands experimenting with these extensions, saw a 2.3x lift in ad recall and a 3.5% CTR after using these enhanced ads.

CTAs have been a crucial part of other forms of advertising for a long time, so it makes sense to prominently feature them in YouTube ads. These extensions will help mobile marketers and brands see immediate campaign results, and will provide advertisers with better ad targeting overall.

2) Vertical Video Ads

Last month, YouTube started offering vertical video ads that provide a more cohesive viewing experience for users. Much like Facebook and Snapchat ads, YouTube ads will fill up the entirety of the mobile screen being used.


Who do you think will ultimately win over the loyalty of advertisers? Though YouTube is the reigning video king, once Facebook sets its sights on something, it rarely lags behind. And though the year is winding down to a close, I doubt that these are the last new video ad features we’ll hear about before the ball drops in December.

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