It’s been long anticipated, but it seems Facebook is finally ready to start rolling out those much-rumoured video ads in your News Feed. Or at least test them. According to the Wall Street Journal, the big blue social network is planning to announce the new feature today, and launch it on Thursday.
The report comes after Facebook began testing autoplaying videos in News Feed in its Android and iOS apps in September, in an attempt to gauge user reactions and interaction with the clips shared by friends before rolling it out to advertisers. It also used the time to fix technical problems to ensure the videos load quickly. According to the Journal’s sources, the first round of ads (which are set to hit the feeds of users of Facebook’s mobile apps and desktop website) will be for upcoming sci-fi film Divergent, and are teaser trailers tailored for the platform. And yes, they will play automatically.
The move is reminiscent of the steps Facebook-owned Instagram has made in recent months, essentially ensuring videos will automatically begin playing as users scroll through their feeds by removing the setting which required a video to be selected before it began to load. Facebook’s autoplaying ads won’t last for long though — rumours suggest they will be the same length as an Instagram video (15 seconds).
If the test is successful, it could be yet another way Facebook can diversify its ad offerings and gain a slice of the video ad market. But it is also one which has the potential to annoy users in the middle of the holiday season. If it works, video ads could bring in some serious revenue for Facebook, which derives the majority of its income from advertising, and has previously been limited to promoting posts and pages.
Update: Facebook has officially announced the new feature, explaining that the videos will play automatically without sound, until they’re tapped or clicked on, and emphasising that this is a limited test at this stage. The videos will also pre-download when mobile devices are connected to WiFi, in order to save users from data charges.