The advertising community isn't sold on Facebook's push to be a dominant digital video advertiser.
Facebook has been heavily investing its video products, and it's telling advertisers it is an equal alternative to TV advertising, according to one media buyer. The company reportedly spent $50 million last year to pay publishers and celebrities to create original videos, according to the Wall Street Journal, and has announced plans to invest in more original and licensed videos. CEO Mark Zuckerburg told BuzzFeed that in five years, he expects most of the content that people will see and share on the platform will be video.
While most agree Facebook's targeting capabilities are excellent, agencies don't think its video products, such as branded autoplay videos that appear in users' News Feeds, are worth premium pricing. While no one is moving money away from Facebook, many said they're not thinking about shifting budgets from competitors like YouTube to buy Facebook video ads or create branded video content for the platform.
Ad buyers cited several problems:
1. Brands can't control what content their ads will be next to
One point of contention is brands can't select what kinds of content they to appear next to, a common problem online. While YouTube allows companies to select topics they want their ads to run on, Facebook only targets users based on interest.
"It's the reason why we haven't recommended Facebook for certain clients," said Matt Borchard, media director at media agency Noble People. "You don't know if you're going to appear next to a horrible thing, or something that is very left or very right."
Live video is also causing concern because advertisers don't know what's going to happen on live feeds. They worry their advertisements may be placed in the middle of controversial events, like shootings or other crime.
"Brands are still getting used to moving faster in the age of social media, to do something where you can't review it at all," said Brendan Gahan, executive vice president of influencer marketing agency Epic Signal. "There are a lot of companies where getting a tweet done takes rounds and rounds of approval. Getting somebody in front of the camera where you can't edit anything is new frontier."
2. It mostly reports internal numbers
Facebook does allow independent third-parties to measure some aspects like viewability. But for the most part, it reports its own internal numbers on views, length of views, and other aspects.
Facebook has recently had some stumbles when it comes to delivering accurate measurements to advertisers, including overestimating average video viewing time and discrepancies between the metrics shown on mobile and the dashboards for page owners, although none of the issues affected pricing.
"It's hard self-managing and self-moderating numbers," said Harry Kargman, CEO of mobile advertising firm Kargo. "There's not as much friction when you're trying to figure out how many particular ads play and are shown. The problem is when you see issues, you are tempted to brush them under the rug."