Your Facebook Feed Might Get a Lot More Irritating
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook Inc is testing videos that play automatically on mobile versions of its service, setting the stage to turn the 1.15 billion-member social network into an attractive venue for lucrative, television-like video ads.
The videos will be silent when they appear in a Facebook user’s newsfeed, but expand and play the audio when clicked, the company said in a post on its official blog.
Only videos posted to Facebook by individual users, celebrities or musicians will have the auto-play function during the test, Facebook said. But it noted that it would “explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.”
The test, which involves a small group of U.S. users, is likely to ratchet up expectations for Facebook video ads. According to several media reports in recent months, Facebook is planning to charge brand marketers $1 million to $2.4 million to show 15-second auto-play video ads on its social network.
Facebook’s stock set a new all-time high of $45.62 on Thursday, as investors anticipated new revenue sources such as video ads and ads in its popular Instagram photo-sharing app.
By conducting a small test before selling auto-play ads to advertisers, Facebook will be able to make sure the technology is up to snuff and to gauge users’ response.
“Because bringing video to life in a feed is something that’s going to really change the way users’ experience Facebook … we wanted to sort of tread water lightly and start with this and see how it goes,” said Facebook spokeswoman Momo Zhou.
Auto-play videos will work on Facebook’s mobile apps for smartphones running Google Inc’s Android software and Apple Inc’s iOS software.
In internal tests so far, the auto-play ads did not seem to significantly reduce battery life, Zhou said. The videos stop playing once a user scrolls past them in the newsfeed, she noted, and users have the option of switching off the auto-play feature.
Auto-play will work only with videos that users upload directly to Facebook. Videos from external websites such as YouTube will not work with the auto-play feature in the test.
Facebook does not expect the auto-play videos to have a big impact on smartphone users’ wireless data usage and monthly phone bills, Zhou said.