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Facebook Changes the Way It Counts Video Views for Advertisers

Not all Facebook video views are created equal.

Vlad Teodor/ Shutterstock

Three seconds still counts as a video view on Facebook — unless, of course, you’re paying for that view.

Beginning Tuesday, the social network will give advertisers the option to pay for video ads after a user has watched for 10 seconds, significantly longer than the video views it charges for now. Unlike a regular video view, which Facebook counts after three seconds, the company currently charges advertisers for each impression a video ad gets, which means an advertisers is charged as soon as the video starts playing.

Now an advertiser can choose which option — impression or 10-second view — they’d like to be charged for.

The idea is that the current system really isn’t very useful to advertisers, especially when the videos autoplay like they do on Facebook. Under the impression option, an advertiser could theoretically be charged for a view that occurs while the user is simply scrolling past the video. The 10-second view offers more of a guarantee that the user actually watched part of the ad.

The new buying option was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and then confirmed by a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook video advertisers bid on prices through an auction, so it’s likely, but not guaranteed, that these ads will be pricier than ads charging per impression. A Facebook spokesperson framed this change as a “test” but the company is rolling it out globally, with the 10-second view count working for ads seen on desktop or mobile.

This new option is yet another example of Facebook catering to its ad partners. The update likely came about after complaints from advertisers; you don’t typically change something that’s working for both sides. Facebook is working to respond to this kind of feedback. The company did something similar last week at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France when it showed off a new ad prototype.

The reality is that Facebook is one of numerous places these advertisers can take their money, so it has nothing to gain from ignoring the wants of the ad industry.

Twitter is trying something similar. It charges for three-second video views versus impressions, but that timer won’t start until the video is 100 percent viewable on the screen. The point is that everyone is looking for a leg up in this ad market. Charging for a 10-second view versus a three-second view is a way for Facebook to differentiate itself. At least for now.

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