Facebook’s Experimenting with Third-party Ad Display Integrations to Watch

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  • February 22, 2019,
Facebook is pilot testing delivering ads on Watch using third-party technologies already used by digital media publishers.

Facebook is pilot testing delivering ads on Watch using third-party technologies already used by digital media publishers.

Is Watch Opening up to Third-party Ad Technologies?

The social media giant introduced Watch in the US in late 2017 and globally in 2018. ‘Watch’ is a Facebook-owned platform for shows on the social media site. It’s available on desktop, laptop, mobile and even as a smart TV app. Shows on Watch can either be recorded or live and follow a particular storyline or theme. Watch is seen as the social media giant’s answer to YouTube. However, until now, the service hasn’t caught on as expected by Facebook.

In a series of attempts to woo the audience and digital media publishers, Facebook has introduced several new changes. The latest of which is allowing digital media publishers and TV networks, who have shows aired on Watch to display ads using the technology, they already use on other video platforms.

Since its launch, Watch had a reputation of being a closed garden, with content publishers not having any authority. Facebook is now trying to be friendlier with TV networks and media publishing houses. Advertising and technology executives state that Facebook is working with a select group of media houses to test delivering ads using the technology of the publishers.

Until now, the ads displayed during the shows were delivered directly by Facebook. With this latest test, the media publisher could directly handle the ad inventory on their show, instead of routing it via Facebook.

Most digital publishers and TV networks use third-party ad technology like the Google Ad Manager and Comcast’s Freewheel to deliver and manage their ad inventory. For example, Disney recently switched from Freewheel and adopted Google ad manager as the backbone system for all its internet ads. Till now, digital publishers had to miss out on their preferred ad delivery platforms while using Watch.

Facebook’s recent stance on working with digital publishers and opening up the platform for integration of third-party ad services is an indication that the social media giant is getting more responsive to the needs of digital media publishers on Watch. Additionally, the Watch platform hasn’t been a huge success as expected by Facebook.

Even though it’s more than a year since the platform was launched, it has failed to win the attention and patronage of the audience.

The Current Performance Levels of Watch

According to Facebook, Watch has over 75 million viewers who use the platform daily and over 400 million viewers per month. Facebook also reports that on average people spend over 20 minutes on the platform daily.

Despite these numbers, it’s no secret that Watch falls severely behind other video streaming platforms and apps like YouTube, Netflix, and others. In an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that though Watch is growing quickly, it’s still well behind YouTube and the social media giant is working to make it more people-centric.

Just like other streaming platforms, Facebook is also investing in original shows for Watch. This includes reality shows with popular sports stars and even scripted dramas. Despite, original shows, Watch needs TV networks and other digital media publishers to fill the platform with content, so that it can bring in more advertisers to the platform.

Right now, there is no clear idea of which media houses have been invited to this test by Facebook and what they are currently testing. It’s speculated that third-party ad integrations on Watch are being tested, as Facebook wants to make the platform friendlier to digital publishers.

Allowing publishers to run their ad campaigns across different video platforms like YouTube and Facebook will make it easier for publishers to track the performance of ads and make corresponding changes.

Till now, Facebook had a reputation of being a walled garden, and it had kept its ad operation locked down internally, without the interference of third-party apps. This test will see whether Facebook is ready to change all that.

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