Facebook To Start Selling Auto-play Video Ads This Week

Facebook starts selling video ads

Do you enjoy ads in your Facebook news feed? Well, Facebook hopes that you do because it will start selling video ads to be featured in your news feed automatically by the end of this week.

Testing a New Way for Marketers to Tell Stories in News Feed

Testing of the non-commercial auto-play videos began in September and was intended to be an ‘easier way to watch videos shared by friends’. The results were positive as the Social Network claimed they’ve “seen a more than 10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos. It’s a better experience for people and it’s leading to increased engagement”. If you are one of those who had increased watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos then you might be pleased with the rollout of this ‘richer storytelling format for advertisers’.

The instructions for the automatic videos are simple:

  • Rather than having to click or tap on the content, videos will begin to play as they appear on screen — without sound — similar to how they behave when shared by friends now. If you don’t want to watch the video, you can simply scroll past it.
  • If the video is clicked or tapped and played in full screen, the sound for that video will play as well
  • At the end of the video, a carousel featuring two additional videos will appear, making it easy to discover more content from the same marketer.

As simple and as innovative as this feature may be, there are critics who claim that the automatic playing of videos is intrusive and potentially alienating for users and they object to the fact that there is no opt out option. In response to this, Facebook has stated the solution is ‘simply scroll past it if you don’t want to watch it’.

The Wall Street Journal reported that many advertisers had expected the sale of video ads to be launched by the summer time, or at the latest, in time for the Christmas season and had prepared material ready to be exhibited. However, Zuckerberg delayed the launch due to engineering issues which would have caused the videos to load slowly. Other questions about whether mobile data will be used up by the automatic videos have also been dealt with:

“On mobile devices, all videos that begin playing as they appear on the screen will have been downloaded in advance when the device was connected to WiFi — meaning this content will not consume data plans, even if you’re not connected to WiFi at the time of playback.”

The first ads to be promoted are a series of videos for the upcoming film, Divergent, together with Summit Entertainment and Mindshare. Although the exact cost of the ads has not been disclosed, it has been speculated that the future sale of ads could go for a cool $1 million to $2.4 million for a day-long run.

So, whether you are going to ‘sympathize‘ with Facebook’s auto-play video ads and watch, or whether you are going to ‘scroll on down’, the videos are going to be playing on a news feed near you.