Progressive Offers Its Take on Facebook's Video Ads

A million bucks certainly doesn't go as far as it used to, but for a select group of advertisers it might be just enough to place an auto-play video ad on Facebook for 24 hours. That's the flat, up-front fee Facebook is charging most advertisers to be among the first to use its delayed and perhaps most overhyped ad product to date, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook recently selected a handful of brands to be the first to run what it calls "premium video ads." Even though the auto-play video ads are muted by default and must be approved by Facebook's creative team before making it into users' news feeds, it's hard to imagine any company balking at the opportunity.

Facebook's unparalleled scale affords it the luxury to make demands unlike any other platform. This is Facebook's world after all, we're just participants or spectators.

The company says its expects no major windfall from video ads or any other new ad products in the near term. Everything else seems to be working in its favor despite the huge upfront costs and rigorous screening process. New ads from Progressive, Dove, NBC, Summit Entertainment and Macy's have been in rotation with no indications of any problems or major backlash from users.

Are Facebook Users Warming Up to Ads?

"People are responding really positively to the creative," Progressive's head of marketing strategy and innovation Jonathan Beamer writes in response to questions from "They seem to enjoy the humor, and don't look at it as a disruption in their news feed. That was one of our objectives -- to avoid being invasive to people's experience, while still reaching them with our message."

Progressive and its agency Arnold both declined to discuss costs or performance, but shared some insights into what it's like being one of the first brands to use Facebook's latest ad type.

"Test and learn is part of our culture and we like to be on the cutting edge of new digital ad formats," Beamer adds. "We've always been early adopters of Facebook ad platforms, from logout pages to promoted posts. Getting in early lets us evaluate new formats and scale those that work before our competition finds them. Because of the audience we were trying to reach, Facebook premium video ads were the perfect vehicle for us to share this message. This new product allowed us to deliver our story to potential customers on a large scale, in a channel they love to use."

So what's Progressive's message to Facebook's audience? "Act your age. Dump your parents' insurance company." The company uses a "baby man" character to deliver it, beginning with a 15-second spot called "The Burping" that leads into a four-part series if users choose to see more.

"We all at some level have been there," says Arnold's creative director Sean McBride. "If you think about [insurance] relative to other things in your life, it's kind of insane, right? What else in your life do you operate that way with that level of inertia?"

Progressive Takes a Different Approach, By Design

Progressive's Beamer says the company ultimately wanted to drive engagement to the creative. "This ad is different than anything people have seen from us before, and that's by design," he adds. "We used imagery that will make people stop for a second and look, because the news feed is a crowded place, and they have a choice if they want to engage with the ad."

Those choices and others explain why McBride downplays any concerns that Facebook may be too heavy-handed with creative approval. "They just want to make sure that whatever work they do is worthy of someone's news feed. They don't want it to become a place where intrusive things live or uninteresting things live," he says. "I generally had a really easy experience with them."

Overall, he found the ad unit to be a "liberatingly tidy little box that's a 15-second, visually interesting, simple message." McBride thinks those parameters are more of an opportunity than any limitation. Earning people's attention in a forum like Facebook's news feed can be liberating for creatives, he says.

"It may just up the caliber of what we do because it's in a place where everything else you're competing with largely is information on your friends, or pictures that you might want to see or stuff that you're interested in. So this better darn well be interesting too," he says.

"It means you all have to hold yourselves to a higher standard. You can't sort of pay your way into their attention span," says McBride.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

What happens when the 'market' becomes a 'customer'?

One of the insightful things that has been said to me recently came from an independent consultant working at a major FMCG client. He said: “The problem here is that we have some people who are world-class at marketing to the masses, but they haven’t got a clue about how to speak to a customer.”

3 Metrics to measure B2B content marketing ROI

Content marketing has become a key pillar for marketing departments of all sizes across the world. But how do you measure – and ultimately prove – the effectiveness of the time, money and energy spent on content marketing?

How global brands can connect on a local level

The dot-com boom allowed brands to easily access the global market. Thanks to this increased exposure and worldwide awareness, brands can no longer exist in a local bubble.

Dan Ratner

managing director, Uberbrand

Informative comments , I loved the info , Does anyone know if my assistant could get ahold of a blank 2011 IRS 8804 - Schedule A document...


Telstra unveils fresh digital content media services

Read more

So, the one thing I would say is .. the customer already has a voice, whether you wanted them to have one or not .. and they have a platf...

Paul Gilbert

Why digital strategy equals customer experience

Read more

Appliances online are doing a good job online, but they're still not giving customers a truly powerful online experience in my view. Wher...

Graham Howlett

Navigating the future of omni-channel retailing

Read more

For both businesses and marketers alike who want a digital marketing platform that supports data visualization, integrated analytics and ...


Adobe to bolster analytics capabilities of Marketing Cloud with Digital Analytix acquisition

Read more

Good Content is a crucial part in Marketing ROI. No doubt metrics like sharing & engagement, consumption, & lead generation &...


3 Metrics to measure B2B content marketing ROI - B2B marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in