Did you know that Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video every day? It's true. My household accounts for about 30 percent of that number. We like watching kittens, OK?
There are more than a billion people using Facebook every day, and video has exploded on the social media platform over the past year. If you're running a business, it's time for you to take notice. Facebook has launched a new program that will enable you to make money from your Facebook videos.
According to this report from Recode, the social media giant will soon start testing a "mid-roll" advertising service where you can insert an ad into a video that users can see after they've watched for 20 seconds. Facebook will sell the ads for you and take 45 percent of the revenues.
This isn't Facebook's first attempt at video advertising. Back in 2015, companies and publishers were allowed to run standalone ads in a separate video section and, just last year, Facebook opened up mid-roll ads that could be shown in a Facebook Live video. But this is different. Now, you can now create an edited piece in advance, post it on your page and if it's good and popular...monetize it. Most importantly, according to Recode, it "includes all kinds of videos throughout the network -- most crucially in the News Feed, its primary distribution mechanism."
What does this mean for your business? Two big things:
Facebook is serious about video and continues to innovate ways for users to generate revenue from their own content. The company is hoping that allowing mid-roll advertising will attract big publishers to produce longer pieces and, if the strategy works, we'll be seeing TV-style programs and shows streaming on the social media platform just like on our local cable channels (because that's what society needs -- more reality TV shows!). Let's face it -- at $5 million for 30 seconds, you're not going to advertise on the Super Bowl anytime soon. But more realistically, if you're looking for a new place to advertise your products, this could be a more affordable medium with a bigger return on investment. I predict that many small companies will shift some of their advertising and marketing money here in the next few years.
If you are planning to invest in video as a way of building your community, this will be a way for you to offset those costs with a revenue stream. Many companies -- both large and small -- are recognizing the popularity of video, particularly among the Millennial generation. Many of us are investing in educational and entertaining video content -- interviews, trainings, certifications, customer visits, case studies, etc., that can be shown live or prettied-up and streamed at a later date to draw more people to our products and services. But videos can no longer look like "Wayne's World." People expect them to be professionally produced. This can be expensive. But now there's a potential solution: if we do a good job and get enough eyeballs, then Facebook is giving us the opportunity to sell ads that can help pay for this marketing activity.
Only a decade ago, the Internet gave us short video clips of kittens and puppies and, thank God, we still have them today. But the Internet has matured. Now, we have kittens, puppies and two brothers hilariously convincing their innocent sister that a zombie apocalypse actually happened. Today, businesses can produce their own TV shows and broadcast live or at a later date to a potential audience of billions on Facebook. Smart business owners are investing in this platform to grow awareness of their brands. The smartest are taking these shows seriously because they know that, like any popular TV show, if enough views are garnered to sell ads, they now have the ability to create a new revenue stream for their business.
A version of this column originally appeared on Inc.com.