Anyone who’s watched online videos (including those on TechCrunch TV) is probably familiar with the pre-roll ad format, where you have to watch a short ad before you get to the video that you actually want to see. Well, Facebook is testing a less obvious variant — ads that play after the video instead.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the social network had signed up the National Football League for what a Facebook spokesperson called “a small video sponsorship test.”
Now it looks like one of those ads is live — as I write this, it plays with the first clip on the NFL’s video page on Facebook. (By the way, Facebook just redesigned those pages.) Basically, there’s a 30-second video clip, and as soon it finishes, it transitions into a 10-second ad for Verizon Wireless.
The Journal says Verizon will also be paying to promote the video on Facebook, with Facebook and the NFL splitting the revenue.
On a high level, this sounds pretty similar to Twitter’s Amplify program, which also combines video clips with brief ads, with Twitter and the content owners splitting the revenue. Twitter signed up the NFL as an Amplify partner last year. (The NFL reportedly pulls in more than $10 million in extra advertising from the deal.)
But Twitter’s program focuses on pre-roll ads, which Facebook has said it has no plans for. Post-rolls aren’t a new concept, but they’re a lot less ubiquitous, presumably for the obvious reason that there’s not much reason to stick around for an ad after you see the actual video.
One TechCrunch writer joked that post-roll means “will-never-watch-roll,” but others argued that with NFL clips, in particular, you’re probably going to watch all the way to the end of the video. Plus, if you want to hit the “replay” button, you’ve gotta watch the ad.
I’ve reached out to Facebook for additional comment and will update if I hear back.
Update: Facebook sent me the same statement that they gave to the Journal. Here it is in its entirety: “This is a small video sponsorship test, and we will be evaluating how people, publishers, and marketers respond to this kind of co-branded video content on Facebook. We have nothing else to share at this time.”