Facebook executives on Tuesday said 4 million of the social network's 7 million advertisers are making use of its Story ad format across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, which marks a significant uptick from the 3 million Story ad users the company reported in April. But Story ad pricing remains lower than what is charged for other formats, executives confirmed.
“Stories have become a very important, key strategy and we have some of our clients that are driving a significant portion of their business on stories,” Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions, told reporters during a wide-ranging briefing at CES that covered the company's business priorities for 2020, including its decision to continue to accept political ads.
As long as Story ad rates are lower, it could eat into Facebook’s revenue, but Everson downplayed that risk. “Stories are typically cheaper right now,” she said, citing “supply-demand” factors. But “prices will go up as more advertisers go into that auction and pick that unit as something that they want—but right now there is a price advantage to using stories.”
She declined to comment on what impact the uptick in Story ad usage will have on the company’s earnings. But she stressed that “it’s not like 4 million [advertisers] are only doing stories, they are using all of the formats, or many formats .. stories being one of them.” She added that “sometimes stories can lower their effective cost … but then they get better results. When you are a direct-to-consumer performance marketer, they invest more if they are getting better results.”
Everson was joined by Jim Squires, Instagram’s VP of business and media, at the briefing held at a ballroom inside the Wynn resort and casino in Las Vegas where Facebook has set up temporary offices to meet clients on the sidelines of CES.
On the topic of political advertising, they indicated Facebook has no intention of following the lead of Twitter and Spotify, which have pledged to suspend political advertising. “We are taking political advertising,” Everson said succinctly, anticipating questions on what has become a hot topic as the 2020 U.S. political season heats up. But she added that when accepting political ads, “we are continuing to evaluate how we can just do it better. What are the things we need to do to ensure the best possible experience that people have because we don’t want people misled on our platform, that’s not good for anybody.”
Everson declined to divulge details on Facebook’s first-ever Super Bowl ad beyond what the company already confirmed in December—that it would promote Facebook Groups and star Sylvester Stallone recreating his "Rocky" role, as well as Chris Rock.
On Tuesday, Everson recalled watching the 2019 Super Bowl with a group that included Facebook Chief Creative Officer Mark D’Arcy. “I remember him thinking, ‘I hope were are in the position in a year to have our story in this compelling environment,’ ” she recalled Tuesday. “The Super Bowl I think is a marquee event; it still has tremendous viewership.”
Stallone first leaked news of the Super Bowl ad in mid-December, when he posted a cryptic video of the ad shoot, which occurred on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art that was featured in a popular “Rocky” scene. Asked if Stallone’s leak was calculated, Everson said, “I can’t say if that was on purpose, but usually those things are not on purpose.”