Facebook Video Ads Are Coming: How Will Users React?

December 28, 2012

facebook, advertising, video ads,



For the past several years, ads have been an unobtrusive, unnoticeable aspect of Facebook. The sidebar ads are easy to overlook and the news feed ads are gone with a swipe of the finger or scroll of the mouse.  However, according to a recent report by AdAge, within the next six months users will be introduced to a new kind of Facebook advertising in video form. Instead of being able to subconsciously ignore the right side of the screen or simply bypass the ads in the news feed, users will essentially be forced to pay attention to these prominent video ads.


The videos will be unlike any ads seen before on Facebook.  Here are the distinctive features of the ads:


  • They will appear in users’ news feeds on their desktop versions as well as their apps on mobile phones and tablets.
  • The ads will be capped at 15 seconds per ad (instead of the usual 30 second video).
  • They will automatically play on the newsfeed, which is a feature called “autoplay” (the audio aspect has not been determined yet).
  • On the desktop version, the videos will expand out of the site’s news feed and into the left and right columns of the webpage.  
  • The videos can not be blocked by the user, but the user will be able to “x” out of them.

The ads are designed to grab the users’ attention in a more effective way than ever before. Currently, advertisers can only appear in a user’s news feed if that person or a friend of person has “liked” the brand. It is suspected that advertisers will be able to target any user on Facebook with the video ads, whether they have a relationship with the brand or not. Advertisers will also be able to show the same video to a user up to three times a day across various devices. 
The new features give the advertiser a larger reachability, but there is a major concern that users will not react well to the change. An advertising executive interviewed by AdAge states that the new ads will be extremely unpopular and will quickly become tiresome to users. The auto-play feature is the aspect of the ads that executives feel will be the main annoyance.

So, why is Facebook doing this if they know users will not be in favor of the new ads? A major contributing factor to adding the new feature is to continue the growth of the company. The social media giant is likely to make millions off of these videos ads. By continuing to create new and innovative ways to advertise, the company will likely triple its market value within the next five years. Another reason Facebook wants video ads is to attract advertisers that would normally buy TV ads. Ad agencies have plenty of TV spots and they are always looking to extend their reach on the web according to AdAge.

Some questions are still unanswered regarding the new ads.  It is unknown how Facebook will charge for the videos, although they are expected to be higher than other forms of advertising. Another unknown aspect of the videos is their ability to measure viewership of the ads.  The auto-play feature will makes it difficult to tell whether the user is actually watching the ad or if they just scrolled past it while it was still playing. 

Advertisers will provide the profit for Facebook, but the users will ultimately reveal the success of the new ads. If the videos become too intrusive, then the user will migrate from the site and satisfy their social media wants and needs elsewhere, taking advertisers with them.