We Interrupt This Broadcast: Is Facebook Live The Next Major Media Platform?

Facebook has long resisted the lucrative pull of pre-video spots on the platform, but the introduction of mid-roll ads into Facebook Live broadcasts is giving direct response advertisers a new way to play ball on the platform.

The advent of live-streaming video apps like Periscope and Meerkat have given rise to a new style of live and on-the-fly broadcasting. But unlike competing third-party apps—and even video-first networks like YouTube or Snapchat—Facebook Live brings live-streaming video directly inside the already-ubiquitous social network, where brands and media organizations have worked hard to establish followings in the millions.

Facebook has spent 2016 quietly building momentum for Facebook Live, maximizing viewership by tweaking algorithms to ensure live broadcasts appear in users' feeds, and creating partnerships with major media companies like CNN and New York Times. The broadcasts have rocketed in viewership and depth, and media brands and celebrities have embraced it as a way to reach huge audiences where they already spend their time. Just this month, CNN's live-stream of the 2016 Presidential election garnered 41 million viewers.

Earlier this fall, Facebook slowly started incorporating mid-roll advertisements into its Live videos—one of the first real opportunities for Direct Response Marketers to engage with video on Facebook. But as Facebook Live continues to strengthen its hold as a media platform, direct response advertisers will need to examine new strategies for reaching audiences in this unique space. One challenge will be to create engaging video content that won't have audiences changing the channel, or rather, closing the tab.