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Facebook video ads -- not as rich as they appear

So Facebook overstated ad video viewing – but no matter.  Is this a big deal, that this overstatement was 60-80% over a two-year period?  Enough to influence ad buying during that period, favoring Facebook, perhaps, over TV ads. It was enough for plenty of news coverage and an apology from Facebook, their ad revenue was 63% of its total revenue in the last quarter – more than $6 billion. Had they known, advertisers could have poured a bit more into TV ads.  Does any of this matter? Well, if you’re not sure what your target audience is viewing, numbers could be misleading. In fact, perhaps Facebook was one of those online venues for almost $69 billion spent on Internet advertising in 2016. Next year, Internet ad spending is projected at $77 billion, outpacing TV ad spending for the first time.


What’s the big deal? First a few facts. So what percent of all ads are directed to boomers and seniors? Well, even though boomers account for half of all consumer spending, they are targeted for only 10% of ad dollars – despite spending 29 hours per week online. And seniors?  They are the reason for pharma’s much repeated “Ask your doctor.” Those healthcare ads matter – since seniors make up 13% of the population, but account for 34% of all healthcare spending.  And consumers trust TV advertising more than online ads. Maybe it is because a) online video ads within Facebook, Snapchat and others auto-play – you must tap the Pause button to stop them, versus tap to start watching.


Auto-playing video ads hurts, especially on smartphones.  First of all: Facebook and Google are boosting their use of video ads that start automatically in the middle of viewed text. Videos (like Facebook’s) chew up data plan limits.  Americans spend five hours per day on their smartphones, collectively checking them 8 billion times. So there you are -- checking your phone 46 times per day, each time watching a video ad in the middle of those Facebook pictures of food and happy groups in restaurants. Maybe you are one of the 28% of AT&T users charged for additional usage beyond the plan you purchased. But maybe you had  (or should have had) the warnings set to alert you to approaching data usage limit – since unlimited plans are disappearing.


Summing it up -- knowledge is power.  Smartphone usage among boomers and seniors is growing.  Free services like Facebook and Google aren’t really free.  Because we are the product, our viewing potential is sold to marketers – perhaps not 100% accurately.  Marketers want to reach us in the channel we are using – for the boomer-senior markets with money, maybe more TV marketing would be a good idea. Video ads will play automatically unless you are stubborn, read the online forums and get the auto-play settings correct -- when it is even possible to override them.

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