Facebook launched its long-waited video ads today with a trailer for the upcoming Lions Gate film, "Divergent."
Studios have been early-adopters for online video, and their core promotional product -- movie trailers -- work particularly well in places that a 30-second spot for, say, Lysol, might not.
Facebook has been talking to advertisers about video newsfeed ads for more than a year and several roll-out dates were scuttled this fall as they continued to test the impact on users. In a blog post, Facebook said it had been testing video in user news feeds since September.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the ads were to launch this week.
Facebook is calling this first campaign for "Divergent" a test, but it's clear from the pitch that at least part of the experiment is to see if they can present it as an alternative to TV:
Marketers will be able to use this new format to tell their stories to a large number of people on Facebook in a short amount of time -- with high-quality sight, sound and motion.
As Ad Age reported a year ago, the video ads will play in the news feed automatically. "If you don't want to watch the video, you can simply scroll or swipe past it," Facebook said. The video won't play sound until it is "clicked or tapped and played full screen."
Once finished, Facebook will present a "carousel of two additonal videos ... making it easy to continue to discover content from the same marketers."
Facebook says its mobile app will download videos and store them when connected to WiFi networks, so video ads won't consume mobile data plans.
We have yet to confirm pricing on these, but as Ad Age reported last spring, Facebook was offering them to marketers for $1 million a day for one of four broad demogaphics within Facebook's userbase: women under 30, men under 30, women over 30 and men over 30. All four demos could be had for the day for $2.4 million, according to executives briefed on the pricing structure.
Facebook is starting a lot slower, which baffled and frustrated marketers hoping to launch video campaigns around Thanksgiving.