Two Big Steps by Two Big Players: Facebook, Twitter Both on Verge of Big Deals, Reports Say

Two stories involving major online social networking sites have got me on the edge of my ergonomic chair: Facebook is in the market trying to sell video ad units, at $1 million a crack, Ad reports, and the Bloomberg News says Comcast/NBC and Viacom are talking to Twitter about devising a video-sharing mechanism.    

According to AdAge, Facebook has met recently with executives at major agencies trying to find advertisers that want to be the first companies on-board when the site launches this video ads idea a couple months from now.

The publication says most likely, Facebook’s ads will be autoplay, taking up the left and right rails of the main news page (rather than occupying the center space for  15 seconds) , and says Facebook is apparently explaining that no user will see ads more than three times in a day. It says if it’s successful, Facebook would want to book four advertisers a day, at a million smackers at a crack. (For the record, AdAge’s tone suggests Facebook is asking too much.)



It’s not until the last paragraph that AdAge suggests user backlash might make the video ad scheme blow up in advertisers’ faces.  “Disruptive” may be a nice phrase to throw around among the dot-com cafe but  consumers often are just plainly bothered by seeing ads that once weren’t there.

Also, Facebook will have to have an elegant solution for video ads on mobile screens, where Facebook itself is trying to lead its users.  

Though you can hardly suggest Facebook has had major fails—its public offering fiasco didn’t have much impact with users—its timeline and other “improvements” caused grumbles. I can’t be the only person in the world who thinks Facebook could lose a lot of  “likes” the more it piles on features that are obviously designed to encourage advertisers rather than enhance the viewer experience. We’ll see, apparently. AdAge notes Facebook is dangling this potentiall tasty, but expensive ad carrot just as upfronts get rolling.    

At the same time, Bloomberg  says Twiter is close to a deal with NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp. and Viacom, that would allow Twitter to host TV clips on its sits and sell ads beside them. That would add to other deals Twitter has made with ESPN, Weather Channel and Turner Broadcasting.  

When Nielsen measured it last June, the story says, about one in three Twitter users posted something on the site related to programming they viewed on TV. That’s a good environment for a TV programmer to be around, especially NBC, whose broadcast operation is struggling in prime time. A Twitter-centric place for TV fare could be a way for Turner, NBC and the others to solidify viewership and build buzz on mobile units. It’s also a slight hedge against Aereo or other devices that can now deliver over-the-air programming to any kind of digital device. For Twitter, it’s a way to get users to stick around the site longer.  Maybe those 140-character length visits just don’t cut it.

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