Talking tech since 2003

Facebook’s monetization efforts thus far have been largely static. Along with sidebar pay-per-click ads, the site offers “social ads” of sorts in the shape of posts or recommendations on behalf of businesses. According to Business Insider, however, a new method of advertising is on its way to Facebook, and it’s one we’ve talked about before: video ads.

facebook-video-adsAccording to BI, video ads will show up Thursday in the News Feeds of some mobile and desktop users. Much like the videos Facebook has been testing in its iOS and Android apps, these video ads will begin playing automatically without audio. Users can hear audio if they want by tapping on the video. Facebook published a blog post earlier this morning discussing the new ad format and offered up some bullet points on how the video ads work.

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.

Interestingly, it looks like Facebook plans to load video ads in a different way than it’s loading uploaded videos from users — at least on the mobile side. User videos appear to load as you scroll to them, though an option in the Facebook apps for iOS and Android allows you to turn off auto-playing videos on cellular connections. For video ads, though, Facebook will automatically download them in the background when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Unlike Facebook’s other ad formats, which blend in more with their surroundings, Facebook video ads are going to stick out like a sore thumb. That’s partly good for Facebook, as the company can tout videos as a better way to get the attention of its users. But how will users react? Facebook has tried to give video a more prominent role in its service, but in my own experience, I rarely see Facebook-hosted video in my News Feed. For users with friends who upload a lot of videos, the new ads might blend in fairly well. But for users like myself, the ads will be a distraction that we’re not quite used to dealing with.

Keep an eye on your News Feed this Thursday to see if you’re one of the users the new video ad format rolls out to. And if you happen to catch one, let us know how you feel about it.

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