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Possible crime video uploaded to Facebook shows why advertisers are still wary of livestreaming

Michelle Castillo

A recent clip uploaded to Facebook (FB) showing an alleged murder has brought to light again the main issue keeping advertisers wary of livestreaming.

"Most advertisers still aren't comfortable with Facebook Live, and this recent news won't help," branding agency DiMassimo Goldstein CEO Mark DiMassimo said. "Facebook's great strength has been unprecedented power and efficiency of targeting, and advertisers trust the company to deliver sophisticated solutions to challenging problems. Many advertisers are still looking at Facebook Live, and want to see more vetting, and more reassurance of brand safety."

Authorities in Ohio are searching for Steve Stephens, who recorded and uploaded a video of him allegedly killing an elderly man on Sunday according to NBC News. Police initially said the content was streamed through Facebook Live, but later said that the video was pre-recorded. However, Stephens did use Facebook Live on Sunday, as well as said in other posts and at least one other video he had killed other people, police said.

DiMassimo said while its agency still advises clients to be advertisers on Facebook, it is holding off recommending Facebook Live until it knows it can be a "brand safe environment."

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Advertisers will want reassurance that their content will never run alongside violent or criminal live posts," DiMassimo said.

Marketing agency Attention still will consider using Facebook Live for its clients, but being broadcast next to criminal content is something it thinks about.

"There's an expectation as an advertiser that your content will be served up in an appropriate environment, safe from improper and even damaging content," said marketing agency Attention President Tom Buontempo.

Facebook allows advertising on its videos, including in-stream ads that play during Facebook Live streamed content —also known as mid-roll — with 2,000 or more followers or the user has reached at least 300 viewers in a recent live video. The company also allows video ads through its Audience Network program, which places ads from Facebook partner companies on websites and other apps.

But advertisers and agencies have raised concerns to CNBC over where their ads will run, given that Facebook targets ads based on user interest instead of by category. They also said they don't know exactly what will happen in a live stream, which makes advertising a risk.

"As Facebook Live is an evolving platform it remains to be seen how it will fully development and what role it will play more broadly for society, and how brands can take part," said Chris Allieri, founder and principal at public relations and branding firm Mulbery & Astor. "You'll find kids' birthday parties, live-streamed tech conferences or your aunt's Caribbean cruise alongside potentially very disturbing content."

Allieri suggested Facebook should be able to block ads on videos users have reported as potentially criminal or violent, as well as find a way to alert relevant authorities as an incident is happening.

Facebook does currently allow advertisers to opt out of any video ad placement, a spokesperson confirmed. Once something is reported by a user as questionable, a global team reviews the item in question, usually within hours. Videos are taken down if the content is in violation of its standards, and the company does notify law enforcement if the content threatens someone's safety.

Watch: Swisher says Facebook no longer a benign platform



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