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Summary:

Facebook has announced a limited test of its new video ad system.

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After months of exploring embedded videos in the newsfeed, Facebook has announced that it will be testing “promoted videos” to its user base, starting with a trailer for the March movie Divergent. This announcement comes in the wake of Wall Street Journal report that asserted the company would be selling video ads this week.

The videos will be embedded in the newsfeed and autoplay once they “appear” onscreen — similar to the way Facebook’s embedded videos from users work now. Like those videos, ads will be initially muted — users will have to tap the video or play it in full screen to get the sound. At the end of the video, new content will appear in a carousel, which will allow users to watch multiple ads at once. According to the company’s own internal research, videos increase user response (Likes and Comments) by ten percent.

See an example of an ad below:

Facebook assures in its blog post that video ads are in a limited test, and will not be widespread or open at launch. The company plans on making that announcement sometime in the future.

It’s clear that Facebook has been thinking a lot about video in the last few months, but expertly executing video ads is going to be a challenge — especially with users who bristle at any changes to their experience. Anecdotally, the initial experience with the new video format can be jarring, especially when there’s only one moving image on a feed while the rest is stationary, but the lack of sound does mean that Facebook is at least trying to prevent video ads from overwhelming its users.

From a brands perspective, rich content like video on a social media site is liquid gold. So far, only Youtube has been able to actively cash in on video advertising in pre-and post-roll slots between videos, but a native video embedding system is likely to appeal to companies with rich content. Through that lens, Facebook is prepping itself for a high quality revenue stream — likely worth the grousing from its users in the long run.

  1. I’m curious about how this impacts data usage for smartphone users?
    With unlimited plans dwindling and shared data plans becoming the norm, will mobile users use up valuable data in incremental bits that add up to a lot of used data over time for video content that they have not selected to view? Think of the backlash in this scenario?

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