How is Instagram evolving under Facebook’s umbrella?

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As Instagram slowly starts to mix in some advertising, the major question for the photo-sharing app is how it will become a source of monetization for Facebook. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg might address the early effects of Instagram advertising in its Q2 earnings call on July 23, it’s worth noting that Instagram ads are still in their infancy.

How new are Instagram ads? In a Fortune story published recently about Instagram, noting that CEO and Co-Founder Mark Systrom still personally reviews each ad the limited subset of advertisers design for the app. Instagram first allowed advertisers who already appealed to core segments of Instagram’s user base.

The feature story shed some light on newer features, such as Instagram Direct and video. In the past month, 45 million Instagram users (about 25 percent) have either sent or received a message through the app.

However, the video feature hasn’t been as successful, Fortune reports.

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Facebook testing video discovery feature in iOS app

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Facebook is testing a new way for users to discover more videos from their friends.

According to TechCrunch and sister site AllFacebook, Facebook for iOS users are seeing a prompt to watch more videos when the click on a friend’s movie. Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s something the site is testing:

This is a new feature we are testing on mobile to help people find more videos they might be interested in.

This does not appear on ads, only on videos that users have uploaded directly to Facebook, and not other sites such as YouTube.

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Facebook acquires ad tech firm LiveRail to improve video ads

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Video ads are the next big thing for Facebook, something enforced by today’s news of Facebook’s acquisition of advertising tech company LiveRail. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LiveRail, founded in 2007 and based in San Francisco, has worked with ABC, Major League Baseball, A&E Networks and Gannett to improve the quality of ads seen in videos.

Brian Boland, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads Product Marketing, explained how LiveRail will help Facebook:

We believe that LiveRail, Facebook and the premium publishers it serves have an opportunity to make video ads better and more relevant for the hundreds of millions of people who watch digital video every month. More relevant ads will be more interesting and engaging to people watching online video, and more effective for marketers too. Publishers will benefit as well because more relevant ads will help them make the most out of every opportunity they have to show an ad.

We’re just getting started with our partnership with LiveRail, but we’re very excited about the future for video publishers and marketers. We believe that LiveRail’s excellent product – known in the industry as a video supply-side platform or SSP – and Facebook’s expertise with relevancy, delivery and measurement will help us make video advertising much better for everyone.

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Facebook changes News Feed algorithm to reflect video usage

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Increasing numbers of Facebook users are watching video, so the company announced today new ways of making sure that users see the videos most relevant to them. Facebook notes that video viewership has doubled in the past six months.

A video’s weight in the News Feed algorithm will now take into consideration how long a user has watched a video, in addition to number of views and engagement metrics such as likes, comments and shares. People who watch more videos should see more in the future, and those who scroll past videos will likely see fewer videos.

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Facebook deepens video capabilities, allows advertisers to go for reach & frequency

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Facebook is trying to offer more tangible value to marketers who utilize video, adding a call to action prompt to page-posted videos that allows viewers to get more information about a company or product after viewing the video. The company is also allowing marketers to optimize campaigns based on reach and frequency — taking a page from the way advertisers buy television ads.

Marketers can also optimize ad campaigns for video views.

Facebook wrote about the new capabilities available through video:

Advertisers will also be able to encourage people who have viewed their videos to view additional content with two new solutions.

First, advertisers who work with a Facebook account representative can work with us to create audiences of people who have already watched their videos. Ads can be created for those specific people, helping to move them from awareness to affinity and consideration.

A second way advertisers can encourage people to engage more deeply with their brand and products is by adding a call-to-action inviting people to learn more and visit a destination of their choice, like a specific page on a website, after viewing the video.

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Facebook announces international launch of auto-play video ads

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Facebook has been testing auto-play video ads (premium video ads) in the News Feeds of U.S. users since December, but now people in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom will start to see them as well.

Facebook announced Tuesday a more international rollout of its mobile and desktop ad format, where a 15-second spot plays automatically as the user scrolls through the News Feed without sound. If a user taps the video ad, then it will show in a full-screen format with sound.

Facebook wrote about this on the Facebook for Business blog:

With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences. We’ll roll out Premium Video Ads slowly and monitor how people interact with them. This limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns to create the best possible experience on Facebook. People can expect to begin seeing these new ads over the next few months.

Facebook also announced deeper video analytics available to marketers.

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Report: NBC is the first major TV network to utilize auto-play video ads

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Facebook executives spoke glowingly of video in the Q1 2014 earnings call, and now we can see why. Facebook confirmed that NBC is the first major U.S. TV network to buy in to Facebook’s premium auto-play video ads.

NBC has launched an auto-play video ad campaign on Facebook to promote three shows: “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Night Shift” and “Undateable.” The ads started 12:01 a.m. EST Wednesday and will run for 24 hours, showing up in News Feeds of Facebook users 18 and older.

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Facebook launches new video metrics

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As more advertisers and page managers use video to get their brand’s message out, Facebook is launching new ways for admins to measure the effectiveness of their video campaigns.

Currently, page admins can only see information such as the number of views a video has received. With the new video metrics — rolled out over the coming weeks — marketers can see the average duration of video viewed and the amount of time that a person watched 95 percent of the video.

Advertisers will also be able to see demographic breakdown of the video’s viewers.

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SHIFT Q1 report: call to action buttons, video are winners for Facebook advertisers

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One of the most popular ad tools for Facebook marketers in Q1 was the call to action button. As Facebook adds more calls to action, brands have been flocking to the tool as a way to get installs, signups and conversions.

James Borow, CEO of Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer SHIFT, talked with Inside Facebook about how successful call to action buttons were in Q1 2014, as well as the way that more advertisers are adopting video. Borow told Inside Facebook that when a marketer uploads a video directly to Facebook, rather than a site like YouTube, the ad tends to perform 5 times better. Additionally, among SHIFT clients, there has been an 80 percent increase in video spending on Facebook.

Inside Facebook: How was this year’s Q1 for Facebook advertisers?

James Borow: Q1 has been incredibly strong on Facebook. Year over year, in comparison to Q1 2013, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in spend. The News Feed in mobile, in particular, dominates. We really are seeing a persistent shift to mobile from desktop. I think that we’re seeing that performance of the channel continues to be incredibly compelling, in terms of actually delivering ROI for the advertisers. Facebook is becoming not just a social channel, but a marketing channel for meeting business goals. That’s really come into clear focus this quarter.

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A look back at the creation of Facebook’s Look Back videos

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It’s likely that many of you created a “Look Back” video during Facebook’s 10th anniversary extravaganza. But did you know that the feature was created by Facebook engineers in less than a month?

According to a blog post on the site, Facebook anticipated only 10 percent of people who saw their video would share it. Ultimately, more than 40 percent shared their videos just hours after launching. Facebook’s total outgoing traffic was about 20 percent higher than the normal peak. They also found:

  • More than 720 million Look Back videos were created, with 9 million videos created per hour;
  • More than 11 petabytes of storage were used;
  • More than 450 Gbps outgoing bandwidth at peak and 4 PB egress within days; and
  • Over 200 million people watched their Look Back movie in the first two days, and more than 50 percent have shared their movie.

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