Facebook to Add Autoplaying Video Ads to the News Feed

The company wants a piece of the huge TV ad budget pie

  There are plenty of ways a scheme like this could go wrong
Facebook's pretty much done growing, there's still plenty of people left to join the site, but the company is focusing on actually making money from the people that have already joined. Its ad business is ramping up, though revenue is still way off from what it could be, in theory.

Facebook's pretty much done growing, there's still plenty of people left to join the site, but the company is focusing on actually making money from the people that have already joined. Its ad business is ramping up, though revenue is still way off from what it could be, in theory.

Facebook is experimenting though, trying new things and new ad types to see what works and what doesn't. The latest such experiment is video ads.

To date, YouTube has been the only one to do video ads at scale and even it is struggling. Facebook, not a traditional video source by any means, will have its work cut out.

That said, it may be precisely Facebook's unique characteristics that make it a better place to run video ads than most other sites on the web, or mobile apps for that matter.

Users are used to consume small portions of content on the site in whatever form it comes, posts, photos, likes, videos, links and so on.

And, as has been the adage for a few years now, content is advertising. Ad Age has some details on Facebook plans and, well, it seems like Facebook is going for it all the way.

Some details are still debated, but what's clear is that there will be video ads on the desktop and mobile ads, in the news feed, by April.

The videos will be capped at 15 seconds, shorter than what most advertisers work with, but they will start playing automatically.

Whether audio will play automatically as well remains to be decided, if Facebook doesn't want one billion users raging about it, audio will be mute by default.

There is an appeal for both advertisers and Facebook for these video ads. On the one hand, they could represent a potentially huge revenue stream for Facebook. On the other, advertisers will be able to take their TV expertise and budgets online.

There are many unknowns at this point, so it's too soon to write them off or call them a success. It all depends on how well Facebook walks the line between enticing users and annoying them. What's clear is that there's plenty that could go wrong with the idea.

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