It’s no secret that Facebook has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the past five years while at the same time trying to find a way to monetize that audience and bring in revenue to justify the (continually falling) stock price. Their latest attempt at harnessing the user base will be ads running on either side of your new feed, to launch early next year. Where observers are predicting the downfall of this idea is in the way Facebook wants to implement those ads: as autoplay video commercials that will launch automatically once you load the page:
In what’s sure to be a controversial move, the visual component of the Facebook video ads will start playing automatically — a dynamic known as “autoplay” — according to two of the executives. Facebook is still debating whether to have the audio component of the ads activated automatically as well, one of these people said.
On the desktop version of Facebook, the video ads are expected to grab a user’s attention by expanding out of the news feed into webpage real estate in both the left and right columns — or rails — of the screen. Facebook is also working on a way to ensure that the video ads stand out on the mobile apps as well, though it is unclear how exactly the company will accomplish this. (Some details about the video-ad plans remain vague and could change as Facebook gets more feedback from clients.)
Advertisers will be able to shows their video ads to desktop users of Facebook, but Facebook has been highlighting the mobile versions of the product in meetings with ad agencies, demonstrating the product on both tablets and mobile phones. Advertisers will be able to show the same video ad to a Facebook user up to three times a day across various devices, two of the executives said.
All of the executives interviewed view the new video ad product as a blatant attempt on Facebook’s part to wrest big ad dollars from TV budgets. Ad agencies have plenty of TV spots and increasingly want to extend their reach on the web. But TV-like inventory on the web is scarce, which is why ad rates at places such as Hulu are so high.
I can’t see this as a good idea. It’s even possible that Facebook has leaked this info themselves as a trial balloon. Alienating the base that is starting to leave your service anyway is not a way to inspire brand loyalty for those who might purchase ads. And advertisers should think twice about what the cost of unexpected consequences will be for their brands if they do hand this audience such an intrusive experience.
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