Facebook Launching Automatic Video Advertisements For Newsfeeds

Just when you though that Facebook couldn't get more annoying, it does. On Thursday, auto-playing video ads will be embedded in some users' News Feeds, the company confirmed today. Facebook has been testing the new advertisements since September, and with this week's soft launch, it hopes to decide whether to impose the ads on all users' feeds. We're guessing Facebook won't base their decision on whether users like the ads: as of when this article was published, the promo video for the feature has only gotten 66 likes.

Facebook explains the new ads this way:

  • Rather than having to click or tap to play, videos will begin to play as they appear onscreen - without sound - similar to how they behave when shared by friends or verified Pages. If you don’t want to watch the video, you can simply scroll or swipe 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 of two additional videos will appear, making it easy to continue to discover content from the same marketers.
  • 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.

Of course, this is Facebook we're talking about, so advertising is just another form of 'storytelling' — albeit one that reaches lots of people simultaneously and tries to sell people something. Advertisers were hoping Facebook would roll out the feature in time for the holidays, but the delayed release could be due to the fact that companies will have more money to spend on marketing at the end of the year. Clever, Zuckerberg.

Video ads are huge money-makers for online companies, but this is one of the first times a social media site has used them in an auto-play setting. Video ads are such a new field, in fact, that they're still lumped in with TV advertising, which accounts for $66.4 billion in revenue.

One of the first videos up for viewing will be the trailer for Divergent , and with two related videos appearing in a 'carousel' at the end of each advertisement, film buffs might find themselves watching another trailer for another Lionsgate movie. But the audience comes at a cost: In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook would charge advertisers $2 million a day to reach the entire audience. Maybe we're the suckers, but here's the trailer, for free.