Advertisers are warming up to Facebook’s nearly two-year-old Watch video platform as they seek an alternative to YouTube, whose problems with sexual and violent content may put millions of advertising dollars at risk. 

An unidentified media buyer told the Wall Street Journal that he will spend at least $1 million, out of his $350 million annual spend, on Facebook Watch ads this year after spending nothing last year. Brand safety company OpenSlate said each of its 40 clients using its Facebook-specific plan intend to spend six-to-seven figures on in-stream Facebook ads this year, CEO Mike Henry told the WSJ.

Facebook offers a variety of video ad formats, including short “snackable” spots that appear in users’ News Feeds, vertical Facebook Stories ads, and in-stream commercials that roll in Facebook Watch programming, similar to YouTube pre-roll and in-stream TrueView ads. 

Facebook Watch appears to be taking share from YouTube. Facebook Watch boasted 720 million monthly users in June; YouTube claimed 2 billion monthly users in May. Facebook Watch’s 720 million is up from 400 million in December 2018 — a 44% increase in just six months.

Unlike YouTube, Facebook Watch’s programming is not user-generated. Instead, it distributes television-like series, including Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show “Red Table Talk” and LaVar Ball’s reality show “Ball in the Family.”

  • Tech giants including Facebook and Google reported increased second-quarter ad revenue. Smaller players grew fastest mainly on video growth.
  • Snap’s year-over-year revenue increased 48% to $388 million, and Twitter ad sales climbed 21% to $727 million. 
  • Amazon’s online ad business grew 37% to $3 billion; Facebook reached $16.6 billion and Google hit $32.6 billion. 
  • U.S. advertisers will spend $29.24 billion on digital video advertisements this year, according to eMarketer.
  • Karma Take: Brand-safety concerns are altering buying patterns, and advertisers appear to be buying into alternative platforms that give them fewer reasons to worry.