social media

Facebook: Is video advertising the right move?

Written by Alex Veeneman

Starting tomorrow, you may see something new on your news feed when you log in to Facebook on your computer or on your phone—a video advert.

Starting tomorrow, you may see something new on your news feed when you log in to Facebook on your computer or on your phone—a video advert. The social network is said to start rolling them out Thursday, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The ad will be for the upcoming science fiction film “Divergent,” and will play automatically without sound when located in the feed. Users, the social network says, are able to stop the ad by scrolling past it. If a user clicks or taps the ad and plays it in full screen, the sound will play.

Advertising revenue or user expansion?

“Marketers will be able to use this new format to tell their stories to a large number of people on Facebook in a short amount of time – with high-quality sight, sound and motion,” the company said in a statement.

Immediately after the video, Facebook says, links to two additional videos will appear for the user to choose from. The statement from the social networking site adds that Facebook has been working since September to make videos more engaging, and has seen an increase in views, likes, shares and comments by 10 per cent.

The introduction of video advertisements have been part of an ongoing debate—how can Facebook, one of the world’s largest social networks, gain revenue but keep its millions of users around the world happy? Advertisers were delighted to hear of the news, but the question that remains is the reaction of its users.

A limited test

A study by the global marketing firm Analytic Partners conducted last month, the Journal report says, indicated that 83 per cent of the social network’s users said they would find the ads intrusive and were likely to ignore them. Facebook has 1.19 billion monthly active users, according to figures made available this past September.

Facebook says, the Journal report adds, that video advertising is not available for all advertisers, and ads are being tested with a limited amount of users. Advertisements are said to cost between $1 million (£613,964) and $2.5 million (£1.53 million), according to a report from the American technology news web site Mashable.

Andrew Gartner, an analyst with the research company Gartner, in an interview with The New York Times, said the social network would tread carefully when it came to video advertising, but does not predict a mass decline in the number of users. “I find it hard to believe it’s going to move the needle very much or have an outcome that will contribute to a mass exodus from Facebook or anything,” Gartner said.

All eyes appear to now be on Facebook and what will come from this test of video advertising, especially if users would be willing to accept it. It is a two-fold scenario—how to get revenue to keep the site operational without harming the base of users it has acquired.

If users don’t mind them, they look to be staying, but if users become annoyed, a number of users may leave Facebook, leaving the social network’s future in limbo.

The ball is in the user’s court.

What do you think of Facebook’s decision to unveil video ads? Would you quit using Facebook if the ads continued? Have your say in the comments section below.

Photo: Anoka County Library / Flickr