Facebook introduced Stories to its platform four years ago, mostly as a way to encourage people to post content that wasn’t highly produced or necessarily photogenic. Now, it’s giving some users a chance to make money through that content. The company announced a test today that’ll allow some creators to place ads that look like stickers into their stories and receive a cut of the resulting revenue. The initial test is “very small,” Facebook says, but it hopes to expand it “soon” and then apply the technology to all short-form videos on Facebook.
In a chat with The Verge, Yoav Arnstein, director of product management, says he can’t share creator or advertiser partners because the test is still in the early conceptual phase. He said the broader idea, though, is to give advertisers a natural place to fit their content, so, for example, if someone posts a video from Yosemite National Park, a sticker could advertise a local business. The contextual relevance will likely be key to making these advertisements successful, Arnstein says.
The story stickers are only one of the company’s various updates to its creator platform today. It’s also making its usual in-stream ads available for shorter videos. Previously, only three-minute or longer videos could monetize with these ads, but now, one-minute-long videos can receive ads, which will be placed 30 seconds into the content. Videos longer than three minutes can place ads as soon as 45 seconds into the programming.
To qualify for these in-stream ads, pages that publish them must have 600,000 total minutes viewed from any combination of video uploads — on-demand, live, and previously live — in the last 60 days, as well as five or more active video uploads or previously live videos. Meanwhile, live video creators now must have 60,000 live minutes viewed in the last 60 days to monetize through in-stream ads, in addition to meeting the video-on-demand program requirements.
Facebook is also spending $7 million to promote its Stars feature, which lets viewers of live content tip with virtual stars, which each pay a creator a cent. The company will make free Stars available during certain live streams, and viewers can them send to the videos’ hosts. The team will also introduce virtual gifts that viewers can send.
“We want to enable more people to actually go and experience this delight of actually going and supporting a creator, and we think this is a relatively new behavior that we want to make more ubiquitous across the app, and we think this is a great way to do that,” Arnstein says about why Facebook is investing in the Stars. “We think that can help also incentivize creators to experiment more with the type of content and the type of engagement directly with fans that will actually enable and incentivize this type of direct support from fans.”
Finally, Facebook is expanding its paid live events to 24 additional countries and its fan subscriptions to 10 more countries. The company won’t collect revenue from either of those features through at least August 2021.
All of these various announcements clearly add up to the idea that Facebook wants to monetize as much creator content as possible through ads. The Stories sticker has potentially the biggest implications, particularly for Instagram, and could usher in a world that’s slightly less focused on full-screen ads and more on those integrated into the content itself.