Facebook Ad Load Issue: Can Legacy TV Offer Some Counseling?

Recently, the term “ad loads” only seems to be linked to traditional media -- like TV -- in a negative context. But now it has been applied to Facebook.

That’s right, Facebook.

Facebook CFO Dave Wehner, in the company’s recent earnings call, says it may be close to saturation when it comes to ad load on its news feed. This is the second time Wehner issued this warning, all to to signify that booming ad growth could be slowing down.

Forget about investors for the moment. How do marketers view this? Will rising ad loads -- like they have seen on many TV networks, especially Viacom and others -- be a negative on the social media platform?

To make matters somewhat worse, in late September Facebook told major ad agencies and ad buyers the way it had counted viewing time had been artificially inflated between 60% to 80%.

Now, Facebook says users are reaching their limit when it comes ad load for news feed. But what exactly is that? How many ads can users stand?  We haven’t got a clear picture yet. In TV we know this: Non-program TV time can run anywhere from 12 minutes to 20 minutes an hour.



All this is coming as Facebook looks to increase its video efforts across every one of its apps, says CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Digital media platforms sellers would say rising ad loads should be taken with some perspective -- that digital media offers better return on media investment metrics for marketers.

They would say digital isn’t TV. It isn’t. But perhaps neither is it when it comes to average usage time for a particular piece of content -- especially social media -- which research says is much lower for than that of legacy TV programming.

So what are we left with?  It is only the users who get dinged -- with a lower quality digital experience?

One thing is for sure: Unlike all traditional media, Facebook’s ad revenue continues to soar -- at least in the near term. Facebook now posts $18.3 billion in advertising revenues through nine months of this year -- up over $11.4 billion for the same period a year ago.

Traditional TV media has long been vexed in determining how to cut down on advertising loads. Some, such Viacom and a couple of Turner networks, are still trying to figure it off, to avoid angering longtime viewers. 

Facebook might think about those older media retention issues more in the next coming months.

2 comments about "Facebook Ad Load Issue: Can Legacy TV Offer Some Counseling?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 4, 2016 at 10:08 a.m.

    I think it matters quite a bit what types of ads FB is dealing with, Wayne. If it is concerned with too many static display ads, this may not be a problem as most are routinely ignored anyway. If FB is worried about too many Video commercials, then it should take a long look at how "linear TV" handles these, not only as regards their numbers but also their presentation---in well defined breaks that consumers know are coming in between scenes or content segments---as opposed to the helter skeltor digital manner which is so disrumptive and annoying to users.

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, November 4, 2016 at 1:12 p.m.

    When demand approaches or exceeds supply we all know what happens. 

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