We knew this was coming. Back in September, when Facebook announced an “easier way to watch videos,” we expected ads to come into play sooner or later. This “easier way to watch videos” was just a fancy term for auto-playing videos on your feed and this is happening for advertisements within your News Feed too. Essentially, Facebook does not want to wait for you to consider whether you want to open a particular ad and watch it, and instead it will just show it to you anyway.
In a blog post announcing this new move, Facebook said that ever since it has been trying out auto-play, views, likes, shares and comments have jumped up 10 percent. Now, Facebook is extending this feature to advertisers as well. Advertisers will be able to choose this format which will allow them to showcase their ads to viewers, without making them click on it.
Video ads are here, but will they stay?
If you’re already looking for the deactivate button in your Facebook account, it’s only fair to let you know that Facebook is calling this auto-play project a “test” for the moment. It may end up scrapping auto-playing ads altogether after the testing period. However, now that auto-play ads are here, you need to know that there is no real way to opt out of it. Facebook says that if you do not wish to view an ad, simply keep scrolling by.
Facebook has been paying keen attention to its advertising in the recent past. Gone are the days where Facebook would inundate your News Feed with ads after ads. The social networking website seems to have struck on a formula and is sticking to it currently. Even as the company is looking to go more mobile than ever before, the advertisements from team Facebook are also taking a mobile route. According to estimates, Facebook makes 36 percent of its cumulative sales through mobile advertisements.
Topeka Capital Analyst, Victor Anthony, says that with video ads on the website, Facebook stands to make $900 million a year in additional revenue. In the past, there have been reports about Facebook wanting to introduce video ads by 2014 and about 15-second Instagram-like ads coming to the website too. Back in July, reports had suggested that Facebook had already started selling these 15-second spots for amounts as high as $1 million to $2.5 million a day. These ads were only supposed to be limited to three spots a day, so as to not cause fatigue for the viewers. Whether or not these very same spots have now been turned into auto-play video ads is not known, but they will only go on to add to the growing ad revenue for Facebook. The idea of auto-play, though, seems to be a safe bet for Facebook. Instagram is currently testing auto-play ads in the US, but it seems to have inspired Facebook too to try and use this technique.
Facebook's revenues set to get a huge boost
At least Facebook understands that we may just be scrolling through our News Feed at night in bed and may not want to wake up the whole house for a 30-second Doritos spot. So when the ad starts to auto-play – on mobile or on the desktop – no audio will play; you will have to click on the ad to push it to full screen for the full experience. Facebook says that when the video ends, a carousel featuring two more videos will also pop up, showing you additional videos from the same marketer, just in case you’re really into watching ads. Also, to protect your data plan, the videos will only download when you’re connected to the Wi-Fi, and if you are using 3G, they will play later when you hook up to a Wi-Fi connection.
When Instagram added video capabilities to its services earlier this year, it opened up the opportunity for Facebook to cash in on the wildly popular app. Just like rival Vine, Instagram automatically played videos in your feed if you stopped scrolling. Don't want to watch a video? Keep scrolling. Sounds familiar? It seems the Instagram video playback was a perfect trial for the larger goal of getting video ads to your News Feed.
This move is presumably not going to go down too well with Facebook users, especially after the saturation faced due to the huge amount of sponsored stories and tailored ads. However, it sure is a novel way to get more advertisers on board, who can at least be assured that they’re going to gain some eyeballs – on the web and on mobile devices.