Facebook Tests New Video Ad Options, Including Updated Targeting Categories and Instagram Reels Ads

Facebook has announced new topic-based targeting options for its in-stream ads, as well as the first stage of ads in Instagram Reels, expanding its outreach options.

The first new addition is in-stream ad targeting categories, which will provide more targeting options for your video ad campaigns.

As you can see here, the new segments look to break down larger topic groups into more specific audience subsets.

As explained by Facebook:

“Powered by machine learning, over 20 Video Topics are available when you select the In-Stream Only placement and brand objectives for your campaign. This gives advertisers more choice in the content they want their ads to appear in, and reach engaged video viewer audiences.”

Expanded topic targeting is similar to YouTube’s ‘Affinity Audiences’ – and more specifically, ‘Custom Affinity Audiences’ –  which work on the same principle, enabling marketers to hone in on more specific interests to maximize response. 

Facebook’s hoping that its own variation of the same will provide improved video ad targeting capacity for its in-stream ad product – and with over 2 billion people watching in-stream eligible videos on the platform every month, it could definitely be a valuable consideration.

Facebook says that it’s launching a global test of the new targeting segments, with a view to a full launch later in the year. 

Over on Instagram, we have the first appearance of Reels ads, giving brands a way to tap into the platform’s TikTok clone.

Instagram Reels ads

As you can see here, Reels ads are pretty much just the same as organic Reels, in terms of format and presentation, but with additional features like a ‘Sponsored’ tag for transparency and a ‘Shop Now’ CTA button at the bottom.

Additional CTAs are also available, including ‘Install Now’ as seen in this live example posted by @WFBrother (and shared by Matt Navarra)

Reels ads

Reels ads will be shown between organic Reels clips, and can be up to 30 seconds in length.

Instagram hasn’t provided any concrete data on how Reels is going, and what user response has been like for its short clips option, but it does seem to be gaining some traction, aligning with the broader TikTok usage trend. 

Reels ads are first being tested with brands in India, Brazil, Germany and Australia, with a planned expansion “in the coming months”.

And finally, Facebook is also adding new sticker ads for Facebook Stories.

Facebook Stories sticker ads

As explained by Facebook:

“In the coming weeks, we’ll be testing custom Sticker Ads for Facebook Stories with select advertisers and creators. These ads will enable creators to monetize their Facebook Stories with ads that look like stickers and receive a portion of the resulting revenue. Brands will create bespoke stickers and creators can proactively place these Sticker Ads in their Facebook Stories.”

Facebook Stories sticker ads

It’s essentially another spin on influencer/brand partnerships, with creators able to further brand promotions with more organic-looking promotions within their Stories content. 

Which would be good if it were in Instagram Stories, but in Facebook Stories? Meh.

Of course, it’s likely that the same functionality will eventually be expanded to Instagram Stories also, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll hold the same value of brand allure on Facebook Stories exclusively. But it may be worth testing out for those that have access, and given its stand-out, custom placement in the frame, it could end up being a relevant option, depending on who your audience engages with on Facebook, and the response rates they see on their Facebook Stories content.

For the most part, these are fairly logical, expected additions, which may not be game-changers, but will each have varying value, depending on your ad targeting process and how your audience responds to each of these elements.

And as much as I’m not confident that Facebook Stories is a strong brand promotion vehicle, I do like the looks of these new Stories stickers for promotion, and they have a lot of potential in other formats.

The new updates are being tested with a range of brands from this week.

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