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Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram – Which Video Advertising Platform is Right for You?


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If you are considering spending any money on advertising in 2017, you’re probably weighing your options to add or expand the use of digital media in your advertising portfolio. And for good reason. Research suggests that by 2017, 69% of all online content will be video based.

Businesses have the opportunity to target and reach potential customers every minute of every day through video marketing. Almost half of all internet users report viewing at least one video online each month. And more than half of all users are more likely to buy or take some action after watching a video versus reading a product description.

If you’re going to spend money on advertising, why wouldn’t you use the best medium for reaching the largest number of people? Video advertising is the way to get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar on the internet.

Video advertising is available on many popular platforms, and many offer similar features. We’ve compared the features of three of the most popular platforms – Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram – to help you make your video advertising decision.

Just the Facts

All three of these sites offer video advertising. All three have huge numbers of registered users. Each has an impressive follower-ship.

Facebook boasts around 1.7 billion users, with 1.1 billion users logging in daily. The average user spends about 40 minutes a day on Facebook. Mobile users generally check their feed about 14 times a day. The average age of a U.S. Facebook user is 40.5 years old.

YouTube is the second most popular search engine and has just over 1 billion users. YouTube estimates that 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Four billion hours are viewed every day. Of the U.S. internet users age 18 to 24, 98% visited YouTube at least once within one month. But, 18% of YouTube users are over 55.

Instagram, acquired by Facebook in 2012, has over 400 million users. Over 60% of Instagram users log in daily, making it the second most popular social media site. About one-third of all internet users are on Instagram with 90% of the users under age 35.

Video Ad Features

Each of the platforms offers similar video advertising features with slight variations.

  • AutoPlay: All three platforms offer auto play for ads. The ads play automatically so the user does not have to start the video. YouTube only offers auto play between videos.
  • View Criteria: A view is a count of the number people who have watched your video. But not all views are created equal. For a view to being counted on YouTube, it has to be played for 30 seconds. On Facebook and Instagram, 3 seconds of viewing will count.
  • AutoLoop: Only Instagram video advertising offers autoloop where the video will play continuously. Facebook and YouTube videos end at the closing of the video.
  • Default Audio: When a user opens a video ad on YouTube, the audio is set to play. With Instagram and Facebook, the audio is muted until the user turns it on.
  • Video Length: Instagram videos are limited to 60 seconds. The maximum length for Facebook video advertising is 2 minutes. There is no time limit for YouTube videos.
  • Sharing: All three platforms allow users to share a video to an outside website. For Instagram users, this feature can only be used by sharing the full post.
  • View Counter: These three platforms offer a public view counter so users can see the number of views per video.

Reaching Your Audience

The purpose of your video advertising portfolio is to reach new customers and sell your product. The platform’s ability to reach your audience demographic is an important factor in choosing a media platform.

Consider using Instagram for your video advertising if you’re company is having trouble reaching millennials and growing your young customer demographic. Instagram’s users are generally under 35, with the highest concentration of users under 24. This platform is best to reach a younger demographic with quick, high content videos.

With YouTube video advertising, you will reach a wide range of users. You can choose a target audience with your YouTube ad. But the targets are typically based on an eight to the ten-year range. If you want to reach 40-year-old, you will be targeting everyone between the ages of 25 and 44. This is due to the way YouTube’s age range options are set.

Facebook is likely the most flexible for age targeting. Advertisers on Facebook have the option of setting the exact age range they want to target. Is your typical customer between the age of 40 and 42? You can set those exact parameters with your Facebook ads.

Are you’re trying to reach a small niche audience? Facebook has options to target your advertising to certain people with specific behaviors and preferences. This is based on Facebook’s analytical information gathered from user activity. YouTube and Instagram’s reach are more widespread, with more limited audience targeting.

It’s All About the Views

You want people to view your entire video to maximize your advertising potential. Each platform handles view counting and the fees for view counts slightly differently.

Although Facebook counts views as anything over three seconds, you will only pay for views that reach 10 seconds. With YouTube, you only pay if the viewer watches at least 30 seconds of the video or fast forwards to the end.

Instagram only recently added video advertising to their platform. So, their take on views is a little different from Facebook and YouTube. Although views are important, the true test of success on Instagram is followers. It’s more likely that your ads on Instagram will generate followers that may turn into customers than it is that people take action based on your video advertisement.


Video advertising opens up a new world for any business. These ads have millions of viewers, constant video streaming, and unlimited possibilities. Your next ad campaign can’t afford to miss the video advertising opportunity. Understanding the options and knowing your audience will help to determine the best platform for your new video ads.

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