Mid-Roll Ads on FB Just Won’t Fly. Here’s Why.

sponsor“Audiences are now accustomed to having control over the content they consume, and you can’t put that genie back in the box.”

Did Facebook just make a critical error?

According to Carrie So writing in Advertising Age, they sure did.

“With Facebook announcing mid-roll ads for Facebook Live, the social network is showing a startling disconnect with how much consumer engagement has changed,” So argues.

Not only is it a big gamble, it’s a throwback to a last-century advertising technique that’s completely irrelevant to the way we consume media now.

“Essentially, the concept strives to resurrect the 20th-century TV broadcasting model within the context of a 21st-century social network,” So explains. “Having just recently started testing mid-roll ads, Facebook Live wagers that viewers who log onto the site to see photos and updates from family and friends will not only want to watch live broadcasts — but will also stay tuned for the ads that scroll in the midst of the live programming.”

Why is this a problem? As So sees it, “In a world of ad blockers and multiple screens, you simply can’t force engagement.”

“If they are not among the more than 415 million people — nearly a quarter of the world’s smartphone owners — who use ad blockers on their mobile devices, marketers still cannot presume that Facebook Live viewers will attend to or engage with mid-roll ad content. Viewers today are likely to use the ad break as a chance to quickly catch a passing Pokemon rather than to actually engage with a disruptive ad,” she continues.

Look, we get that brands are looking for eyeballs and engagement. And we get that digital – and in particular social media – is largely in its infancy and evolving rapidly. But are we putting common sense out the window in the rush to be on board with what’s new?

According to recent numbers, video ads are a bad bet. Many think the video bubble is about to burst, in large part due to sketchy viewability numbers that hint at a visibility fiasco like the one that swamped digital display advertising. No doubt that’s why many are backing away from the video balloon.

“Long gone are the days of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ Families gathering around the TV at the same time and watching a broadcast and its ads in its entirety is a far cry from today’s streaming, binge-watching and multiple screen world,” So notes.  “These 21st century realities mean Facebook Live’s introduction of mid-stream ads seems like an unlikely model for the future of successful advertising in social media.