Facebook Test Hints At Video Ads

Autoplay video test with Facebook mobile users signals that video ads may arrive soon in your news feed.

Kristin Burnham

September 16, 2013

3 Min Read
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10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead

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Facebook appears to be one step closer to launching the video ads rumored to appear soon in news feeds. The social network announced that it is testing a new feature with a small group of Facebook mobile users that automatically plays videos when users pause on one when scrolling through their news feed.

According to the social network, the videos will initially play silently. Tap the video to expand it to a full screen and listen to the audio. If you don't want to watch the video, Facebook says you can just scroll past it.

Not all videos will automatically play, either, Facebook said. Ones from personal accounts, verified pages and pages of musicians and bands will be among the first to get the autoplay feature. The videos must also be uploaded to Facebook; videos posted from YouTube or elsewhere, for example, are excluded.

Watching Facebook videos on a desktop is different from mobile Facebook videos. Clicking on a video from the desktop version opens it in a new page. There is a separate option to click if you want to view the video in full-screen mode. Facebook has not said whether it plans to roll out autoplay videos on its desktop version.

[ Facebook must tread carefully in launching video ads. Read more: Facebook Video Ads: What To Expect. ]

Facebook also remained mum on details about its plans to extend this feature to advertisers. "At first, this feature will be limited to videos posted by individuals, musicians and bands. We're doing this to make sure we create the best possible experience," the social network said. "Over time, we'll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future."

On Facebook-owned Instagram, videos already autoplay in a similar manner, although the photo-sharing app does not mute them all. If you pause on a video while scrolling, the video will play but respect your phone's audio setting. For example, if your phone is set to ring, the video will play aloud. If your phone is set to silent or vibrate, the audio won't play.

Instagram COO Emily White said last week that users could expect to see ads running on Instagram within the next year, conceding that its challenge is figuring out how to integrate marketing without jeopardizing Instagram's cool factor.

Back in July, reports swirled that Facebook planned to sell TV-style video ads that would appear in users' news feeds for between $1 million and $2.5 million a day. The ads, which are expected to be 15 seconds long, are said to be targeted to users' interests and demographics. Reports said users could expect to see video ads in their news feed up to three times a day.

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About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

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