Facebook Unveils Slideshow To Boost Video Ads In Emerging Markets

FB-logoVideo advertising has grown steadily in recent years, with some predicting that spending will top $5.4 billion next year. Now a new video tool and ad unit from Facebook could send digital video ad spending even higher, particularly in developing countries.

The social media giant on Thursday officially launched Slideshow, a dynamic ad unit that can be created with as few as three still images. It’s billed as a low-cost way for brands to reach audiences in emerging markets where low bandwidth can be an issue, as well as small businesses without the capital traditionally needed to create video ads.

“Slideshow is a lightweight and responsive ad format that delivers and reaches people across across all devices and connectivities,” said Nikila Srinivasan, product manager for emerging markets, at a press roundtable at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. “It is also an extremely creative tool for businesses that are looking to create videos.”

The Slideshow video ad units are up to five times smaller than a comparable 15-second unit. Advertisers can create videos with three to seven photos or choose from stock images offered by Facebook. Videos can be up to 15 seconds long and are designed to automatically adapt to bandwidth and device, which may range from iPhone to feature phones.

Facebook tested Slideshow with several partners, including Coca-Cola, which used it to create a video ad for a TV show. The ads were delivered to Nigeria and Kenya, where the company expected to reach 1 million people. Instead, it reached 2 million people, while ad awareness increased by 10%.

Other use cases from testing include Netflix, which used Slideshow to introduce characters for a new upcoming show, and O Boticário, a Brazilian cosmetics company that tapped Slideshow to demonstrate a “smoky eye” makeup application.

Since Facebook is making the tool available to advertisers through Facebook Ads interfaces globally, it isn’t restricted to emerging markets. “But we do think for advertisers looking to reach people specifically in emerging markets, it provides the kind of extended reach that few other [products] out there can do,” Srinivasan said.

Some 85% of the world’s population live in emerging markets, as do 90% of people under the age of 30. Unfortunately, many Internet users in emerging markets are forced to browse in slower 2G environments, if they even have connectivity at all.

Facebook convened a team to study how people in emerging markets experience its social network. They learned that in some places it took a long time for news feeds and images to load, or users couldn’t even connect.

As a result, Facebook now takes network connection into account when delivering its news feed. For example, if Facebook detects a slow connection, it will load fewer videos or fully load a story being read before new news feed stories.

During its study of emerging markets, Facebook recognized that users in these regions sought connections to businesses. Although ad blocking may be on the rise in developed nations, some in emerging markets appear to embrace advertising.

“In South Africa, Brazil and India, we were meeting with people and seeing in real time people taking screenshots of ads in Facebook and sharing them with friends and family via Facebook or Messenger,” said Kelly MacLean, product marketing manager for ads in emerging markets. “There is this really fascinating connection people want to have with businesses and brands, so we’ve been thinking about how we can continue to bring these two together and facilitate these connections on Facebook.”

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