Actually, they've been here for a while, but today Facebook has announced that their long-awaited (and long-bemoaned) video ad product is going wide, with a limited group of advertisers. The company first started testing the autoplay ads back in September, and made the first big push in December with a video ad campaign for the new film Divergent. We'd known that Facebook was planning on rolling these out since 2012, but they were delayed so that Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team could figure out how to make them less-intrusive, or at least tolerable to the average Facebook user.
So, will they be tolerable? Probably. The video ad you'll see in your news feeds over the next few months (that's the rollout timeframe) will be 15 seconds long and yes, they'll autoplay–but they'll autoplay without sound. If a user clicks on the ad, the video will go fullscreen and the sound will kick in.
If you scroll by the ads, they'll stop playing.
"Premium Video Ads are designed for advertisers who want to reach a large audience with high-quality sight, sound and motion," says Facebook's Susan Buckner. "With Premium Video Ads, brands now have another way of engaging people on Facebook with compelling video experiences...this limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns to create the best possible experience on Facebook."
Basically, Facebook says that the videos will be of the highest quality, and therefore shouldn't disrupt your normal Facebook experience. Now, whether that's true or not is a question we'll have to answer down the road. To me, it'll have everything to do with clutter. Too many news feed video ads, even if they're silent and ignorable via scrolling, will piss off a lot of people.
Then again, everyone always seems pissed with Facebook, but 1+ billion strong keep coming back.
Here's the relevant part of Facebook's announcement for those on the other side of the equation, the advertisers:
Premium Video Ads are bought and measured in a way that’s similar to how advertisers already buy and measure ads on TV. The ads are bought based on Targeted Gross Rating Points to reach a specific audience over a short period of time. Delivery is measured by an independent third party, Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), and advertisers only pay based on what Nielsen OCR measures.
To make sure Premium Video Ads are as good as other content people see in their News Feeds, we’re working with a company called Ace Metrix to help us review and assess how engaging the creative is for each ad — before it appears on Facebook. Ace Metrix will allow us to objectively measure the creative quality of the video in the Facebook environment, and highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness and emotional resonance. We’re taking this step in order to maintain high-quality ads on Facebook and help advertisers understand what’s working to maximize their return on investment.
Like most Facebook products, these videos ads will come in a slow rollout.
Image via Facebook