Video Ads on Social Networks: Do They Work?

A Wall Street Journal article published recently revealed that 85% of YouTube’s ads are seen just by 9% of its users.
YouTube has  a relatively small audience that watches videos all day long;  that audience overwhelmingly favors music videos.  The rest of the billion visitors to the site consider it a video repository, but do not actually watch other people’s videos.
If you consider YouTube’s history, you will remember that its core audience is traditionally tweens and teens. They’re not ideal targets for most brands, and they can’t often buy without parental consent.  Most do not have credit cards (yet). And according to the WSJ’s figures, a few users see the same ads repeatedly, which encourages ad blindness and causes advertisers to miss a big opportunity to reach larger audiences with the same spend.
Ideally, video ads should scale — that is, reach the largest possible relevant audience, and reach it with frequency caps of just a few ads a month. To do this, a large premier publisher network is preferable to a single site like YouTube or even Facebook. (Facebook’s current algorithm runs the risk of displaying ads repeatedly to audiences to indicate a liking for a brand.)
Nevertheless, Facebook video ads have really taken off, to the tune of $12 billion in revenue for Facebook last year. Much of the success is due to native ads, which work best on that site.
And now, Twitter is going to enter the competition for eyeballs. However, Twitter has some issues:
It is more difficult to target, because there’s no algorithm that automatically organizes tweets by content. Therefore, a tweet containing a native video is just as likely to be seen as a tweet containing a YouTube video. That’s not the case on Facebook, where native videos reach nearly three times as many users compared to links to YouTube, according to a Socialbakers survey conducted for Business Insider. That’s because Facebook’s algorithms organize users’ News Feeds to include more native videos compared to links that send people away from its website or app.
Because Twitter’s brand image is strongly entwined with its 140-character limit, Twitter videos are also capped at 30 seconds. If users may want to post longer videos, they’ll have to choose a different venue. However, advertisers don’t have that limit; they can post native videos of up to 10 minutes.
There are no restrictions on video length on Facebook or YouTube for verified users. But again research shows users don’t engage with videos longer than ten minutes, and on mobile devices we think shorter videos work best. If TV spots can make a strong point in 30 seconds, video ads on social sites should be able to do likewise.