Facebook to Place In-Your-Face Video Ads in News Feeds
Facebook is reportedly getting ready to launch automatically playing video ads on users' news feeds some time next year. The 15-second spots will begin playing when a user visits the site, and could compete with television for a slice of advertisers' budgets. Users, however, may not be very receptive to the idea, so much testing is likely to be done before launch.
12/19/12 10:41 AM PT
Facebook plans to launch video advertising that will autoplay in users' news feeds some time next year, but it's not yet clear whether they'll be more like silent movies or talkies, according to a report by Advertising Age.
Advertisers reportedly will have the chance to buy targeted video ads in the first part of next year. The ads will be capped at 15 seconds in length, and the video portion will make use of the autoplay function. Adding audio autoplay is still being discussed.
The addition of video ads would move Facebook into direct competition with television as an advertising outlet.
Potential for Revenue
"There has been much discussion about Facebook as an advertising channel being more similar to TV than typical online channels, particularly with respect to its massive reach and the sheer amount of time users spend on its desktop and mobile sites," Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing at Kenshoo Social, told the E-Commerce Times. "Extending its advertising products to include video ads brings the social network one step closer to realizing the TV analogy. If Facebook can garner a fraction of overall TV budgets, it would dramatically increase its revenue potential."
Video ads are a natural progression for Facebook as it seeks to further enhance value for shareholders now that it's a public company.
"It does seem like a logical next step for Facebook, which is trying to monetize its property," Mike Tatge, cofounder of JumpFly, told the E-Commerce Times. "This isn't shocking to me. It seems shocking to me that it's not there yet."
This change in its advertising strategy will help to position Facebook as a kind of hybrid between social media and television.
"Including video ads in their news feed is a natural step to continue monetizing their peer assets and helping them become more of a player in the advertising world," Chad Recchia, interactive marketing manager with AdEase, told the E-Commerce Times. "We've seen that video content is more engaging than regular display and text ads. So the ability to deliver engaging content straight to a targeted user's news feed will really allow a brand to connect with users in a unique setting."
Disrupting the Calm
How Facebook users respond to video advertising remains to be seen, however. The ads might come across as intrusive, particularly if they play automatically when a user scrolls down the news feed.
"It might be intrusive to Facebook users, but that's up to their business model to make it work," said Tatge. "Facebook has the ability to test it and see how it works."
The trick for Facebook will be to include ads without disrupting the experience of sharing and communicating that has become a hallmark of the site.
"Ads, in general, are disruptive by nature, whether it be TV, radio or the Internet," said Recchia. "But this new video ad positioning will hopefully allow advertisers to deliver more relevant content that engages users, rather than disrupts them."
Autoplay might be especially annoying to users accustomed to being able to control and modulate their Facebook experience, but even that feature might not be a problem if it's done right.
"Autoplay is another action that disrupts the user's experience, but it doesn't necessarily mean it has to annoy the user," explained Recchia. "By delivering more relevant content that matches the user's interests, the user could eventually see this as a more of a benefit rather than an annoying feature."
Facebook's video ads will likely be targeted based on some combination of demographic information and social recommendations, and this targeting might actually make the ads more palatable, useful, and effective than they might otherwise be.
"It will be interesting to see how the targeting works," said Tatge. "Users can feel intruded against to see ads, but then again they might be seeing ads that are more relevant to them as users and as people."
Experts say that the best short video advertising is more about branding than about selling a particular product or calling for a specific action, so Facebook videos focusing on creating a mood or emotion in relation to a brand might work best.
"For video ads, branding is effective," said Tatge. "You're not asking for specific action, but you get a lot of impressions. With text ads it's more a buying signal."
Watch Your Step
Because of the expense and time it takes to create video, it might be primarily larger companies and agencies that make use of the Facebook video ad platform.
"There are a lot of ways to create videos today than ever, and smaller companies are using more video," said Tatge. "But it's still a little more difficult than putting up a webpage or creating banner ads."
Ultimately, the success of Facebook's video ad feature will rely on a host of unknown factors -- including user responses -- and the only thing certain is that the social media company will continue testing and fine-tuning any new advertising platform based on the feedback it gets.
"Until something is tried and tested, we won't really know how people will react," Tammy Kahn Fennell, CEO of MarketMeSuite, told the E-Commerce Times. "Facebook needs to make more money, and no one who thinks about it would begrudge them having a revenue model. When you have something as big as Facebook, though, users feel like they own a piece of whatever they're using. Facebook needs to tread carefully when figuring out how it's going to make money."