With the video advertising space on fire, and more social networks offering the ability to advertise, you need to know where to get the most bang for your buck. Each platform offers unique opportunities for video ads, with different key user demographics, varying ad formats, attribution methods and buying strategies.

Understanding the landscape and what you can do on each platform is the best place to begin to budget for an effective social video strategy. For the next three days, we’ll outline what you need to know about the four big players: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Let’s start our examination with Facebook and its wildly popular imagery-focused social network, Instagram.

Facebook: The Social Hub

There’s no longer any question: Facebook is the Internet’s dominant playground, and it’s also the fastest-growing video platform in the world.

With more than four billion video views per day and over 80% of Internet video engagements taking place on Facebook, it should be a major factor in most brands’ social video strategy. Facebook’s user demographic is broad and highly varied, but the depth of its knowledge and understanding of the user base means that brands and agencies can utilize precise, people-based targeting to reach their most coveted audiences.

What Can You Buy?

Facebook offers three ad formats for social video: Desktop News Feed, mobile News Feed, and right-hand rail, formerly known as domain ads.

Facebook - Desktop News Feed Video Ad
Facebook Desktop News Feed Video Ad Example.

News Feed ads have the advantage of appearing and behaving like a user-generated post and automatically play on mute, which is very engaging and inviting; these dominate the screen and can be used to drive off-site conversions (e.g., app installs). The first few seconds of your videos should be extremely eye-catching and not dependent on sound.

Right-hand rail ads are often cheaper inventory and have the advantage of always appearing on screen, unlike News Feed ads which can be scrolled past but require a click in order to play the video, but these are less engaging and feel more ad-like.

Videos can be up to 45 minutes long but 15-30 second ads have proven to yield the best results. You can find full technical requirements here.

What Counts as an Impression or a View?

An impression is counted as soon as the ad appears on screen – this includes users who are simply scrolling past. When any video pixels remain on screen for three seconds or more, Facebook counts that as a video view.

How Can You Buy Ads?

For video view campaigns, there are two primary bidding options: oCPM bidding with optimization for video views, or CPV bidding.

  • With oCPM bidding, you pay per impression, but Facebook will deliver your ads to people most likely to view your video for three seconds or more. Pros: cheaper, less conservative delivery means more eyes on your ads. Cons: not guaranteed to get users actually watching your videos.
  • With CPV bidding, you pay only when the user has viewed the video for 10 seconds or more. Pros: you only pay when users actually watch your video. Cons: more expensive, more conservative delivery means fewer eyes on your ads. Use this option when you are confident you have a high-quality target audience, like a Custom Audience of your top-spending customers.
  • A third “premium” option is where you can choose to require full visibility (100% pixels on screen) and you pay per view. This is currently available to a limited set of advertisers and has a unique set of restrictions. You can find out more about this option here.

CPC and CPM bidding are available but not recommended. For more information on the different types of bidding available, and when you should use each, refer to our Facebook Bidding Unraveled article.

What Can You Learn about Your Videos?

Facebook offers reporting on many video-centric metrics, including impressions, views (three seconds or more), 25-50-75-95-100% completion, CPV, CPCV, VCR, etc. Click here for a full list.

AdParlor Recommends:
News Feed ads, 15-30 seconds long, bidding oCPM for video views.

Instagram: Where Cinema Meets Reality

The home of stunning, exciting imagery from around the world, Instagram is the go-to platform for capturing and sharing life’s moments. By combining sound, sight, and motion, Instagram video ads are a great way to share your story with your audience. Instagram has the ability to leverage Facebook’s sophisticated precision targeting, so you can inspire and engage with your most coveted users in a way that feels natural. Instagram advertising is built on top of Facebook’s advertising framework, and as such, has many similarities. Key differences to note are in the user base demographics—Instagram is a Millennial favorite—ad formats and the auto-loop feature.

What Can You Buy?

Video ads appear in the Instagram feed and automatically play on mute, and are looped. Maximum video length is 30 seconds; for format guidelines, head to this page.

A glimpse of our revamped office! #adparlor #rebrand #office

A video posted by AdParlor (@adparlor) on


What Counts as an Impression or a View?

Instagram is the same as Facebook; an impression counts as long as any video pixels have hit the user’s screen. When any video pixels are on screen for three seconds or more, Facebook counts that as a video view.

How Do You Buy Ads?

Similar to Facebook, video ads are bought using an auction system, with two dominant bidding options recommended: oCPM bidding with optimization for video views, or CPV bidding. Unlike on Facebook, CPM bidding is not available. It’s important to note that as Instagram automatically loops your videos, instead of charging for aggregate video views, it charges on unique views.

What Can I Learn About My Videos?

Again, it’s the same as Facebook: impressions, views (three seconds or more), 25-50-75-95-100% completion, CPV, CPCV, VCR, etc. AdParlor recommends: Instagram ads are still fairly new, so best practices aren’t etched in granite. Nevertheless, videos 15-30 seconds long that have content suitable for looping are best.

The Big Picture of Facebook and Instagram

If you haven’t already, the time is now to take advantage of the video offerings on Facebook and Instagram. Videos are not only naturally more eye-catching and engaging, but they enable you to present more information to the user in the same amount of time and/or attention span. It should come as no surprise that a recent Nielsen study of Facebook video ads reported an average lift of 86% on over 300 video campaigns measured. If pictures are worth a thousand words, video must be worth ten-thousand. Make sure your Facebook and Instagram campaigns are maximizing every syllable!