Last Friday, Facebook confirmed it would add new regional targeting options to its Facebook Reserve in-stream video advertising offering, according to AdExchanger, fulfilling a long-standing demand from TV advertisers.
.Facebook Reserve is the service for guaranteed video ad placements within Facebook Watch — the social giant's section for higher quality original and publisher content — and the new options will initially be available to a select group of advertisers before a broader rollout ahead of the 2021 upfronts. The expanded targeting options will include Facebook's native targeting capabilities, such as interest segments and custom audiences, along with Nielsen's designated market areas — a key geographic measurement for TV advertisers.
Beyond the new targeting options, Facebook Reserve's main value prop is its ability to provide incremental reach relative to TV — especially among younger audiences. In the US, approximately 124 million adults aged 18+ watch Reserve-eligible videos each month, per Facebook internal data. And that group skews much younger than US TV viewers: Approximately 39% are between 18- and 34-years-old, while just 29% of US TV viewers fall into the same age range, according to Nielsen.
That's allowed Facebook to provide access to an audience that TV struggles to capture: Facebook's analysis of 27 ad campaigns on Watch found that for target demos it has been able to drive, on average, 9.3% incremental reach beyond TV. For all of the advantages it may hold over pay-TV, Facebook Watch does still trail significantly in terms of the time consumers spend with the content. As of March, just 23% of US Facebook users said they had watched a Facebook Watch video in the past month, according to an eMarketer survey conducted by Bizrate Insights.
And as of April, US consumers spent an average of just 26 minutes per month with in-stream content spread across Watch, News Feed, and Pages. For context, US consumers will spend an average of 229 minutes per day with TV in 2020, according to eMarketer's estimates updated in April.
Facebook's new tools should help the platform appeal to TV media buyers as the pandemic removes traditional TV opportunities and shifts more viewership to streaming. Erik Geisel, director of North American agency partnerships at Facebook, told AdExchanger, "This was always going to be a part of our upfront offerings for next year. But given COVID-19, we're probably going to see the reemergence of brands more regionally rather than nationally at the start."
With most live sports and other relevant TV advertising opportunities off the table this year, Facebook was likely motivated by the idea that a significant share of TV and premium video ad budgets are up for grabs. And given that the pandemic is driving an uptick in streaming video consumption among quarantined households — time spent on streaming platforms grew 34% year-over-year in March, according to Nielsen data cited by the Hollywood Reporter — this could be a particularly opportune time for Facebook to expand the targeting options available to such in-stream ad placements. As a result, it's likely that a greater share of ad budgets planned for regional TV campaigns will shift to Facebook Watch and other streaming video content.