By Jennifer Saba
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Macy's Inc, which traditionally kicks off the U.S. holiday shopping season with a nationally televised parade in Manhattan, also will join a handful of other companies this year parading their ads on Facebook's fledgling video feeds.
As the social media platform slowly rolls out its premium video offerings to advertisers, Macy's will launch its online video ads Thursday evening.
"As we were anticipating Black Friday, we wanted to take a look at how the product evolved and try to figure out how to distribute our video in a balanced way," said Jennifer Kasper, Macy's group vice president for digital media and multicultural marketing.
Kasper characterized Thanksgiving as the retailer's Super Bowl Sunday. The Thanksgiving Day parade featuring giant balloons, floats and marching bands, draws millions of television viewers and brings thousands of onlookers to midtown Manhattan.
The video ads will feature cartoon character and parade balloon SpongeBob SquarePants. They will target women age 21 and over. Macy's also broadcasts television commercials that began airing on Sunday.
Kasper would not reveal how much Macy's would spend on the Facebook advertising, but said it was "incremental" to the Black Friday budget.
"We do believe we are going to reach an incremental audience who are no longer tuning in to traditional TV," she said. "For people who have seen it on TV, it keeps us top of mind."
Other advertisers using Facebook during the holiday crunch include Kate Spade New York, which on Nov. 13 launched its video ad on Facebook and has reached over 6.7 million people so far.
David Fischer, Facebook's vice president for business and marketing partnerships, said the social network has seen an explosion in video consumption. He said that as of June, more than 100 million videos per month have been uploaded.
"People are discovering video more quickly on Facebook than anywhere else," he said.
Other digital platforms chasing advertising money dedicated to video include Google's YouTube. Facebook is rolling out video ads carefully and will "remain deliberate and slow in our approach" Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during an October earnings call.
Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst, at Forrester Research, said "Facebook has a lot of work left to do to make its ad as effective as what marketers can find elsewhere," he said.
"They are inching forward and heading in the right direction."
(Editing by David Gregorio)