Will These Facebook Video Ads Attract The Right Kind Of User Attention?

    December 19, 2013
    Chris Crum
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Facebook announced on Tuesday that it is testing a new promoted video format in the News Feed, starting with one for the new film Divergent on Thursday.

Do you think users will accept these ads? Will they be effective for advertisers? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Facebook has been testing similar ads since September, and says that as a result, it has seen views, likes, shares and comments increase over 10%. Of course, it probably helps that changes to the News Feed algorithm make it far less likely that users will even see brand messages unless they’re paid for.

“Marketers will be able to use this new format to tell their stories to a large number of people on Facebook in a short amount of time – with high-quality sight, sound and motion,” Facebook says of the new format. “This approach will continue to improve the quality of ads that you see in News Feed.”

“Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns, particularly when brands want to increase awareness and attention over a short period of time,” it says. “From launching new products to shifting brand sentiment, this video format is ideal for marketers who are looking to make a large-scale impact, and for people who will discover more great content in their News Feeds.”

Page post video ads can come into play to sustain the message of the initial campaign over longer periods of time in more targeted ways, according to the company, which also says the format isn’t intended for all video ads or Page post videos on Facebook, but meets “specific needs for certain marketers with certain objectives.”

The ads will autoplay as they appear on screen without sound. Users can simply scroll past them like any other content in the New Feed if they don’t wish to watch the video. If the user taps or clicks the video, it will be played in full screen, and the sound will play.

When the video is over, it will display two additional videos from the same marketer, which users will have the option of watching.

Videos will be downloaded in advance on mobile devices when they connect to WiFi, so the content won’t consume data plans.

If you’re wondering whether all promoted videos will begin playing as soon as they appear, you’ll just have to wait and see. Facebook hasn’t decided yet, but is using what it learns from this initial test to determine what to do. If users react favorably, we can probably expect a lot more autoplaying videos in our News Feeds.

The company says it will continue to refine the format. While it’s only a small test for now, it sounds like we can expect an announcement of broader availability in time. Facebook is simply telling marketers it will let them know. They’re not talking about the pricing for the format.

For the Divergent ads, Facebook has been working with Summit Entertainment and Mindshare. There will be a series of videos promoting the film.

So far, the reaction from marketers seems to be relatively positive. We’ll see what users think.

Users should already be getting used to the idea of autoplay videos. Facebook introduced this functionality to user videos a few months ago, and it’s been that way in Instagram for a while now.

There will no doubt be plenty of people complaining, because that’s what people do, but as my colleague Josh Wolford explains, the ads should prove to be “pretty much the most tolerable kind of video ad around.”

As he notes, they’re less intrusive than other video ads on the web and on television, because you can skip right past them just like any other Facebook ad if you so choose.

This may not seem incredibly great for the advertiser, but it should still accomplish the goal of spreading awareness regardless of whether the user actually watches the video. Advertisers will need to make sure they have a powerful enough message that catches the user’s attention enough to want to make them play the video.

Longtime Facebook reporter Josh Constine compares the experience of Facebook’s new Divergent ad to the dialogue-heavy trailer for the movie as seen on YouTube:

“The short clip promoting Divergent doesn’t rely on audio,” he points out. “It’s soundtracked with thrilling music, but the action sequences and flashes of white text on black get the action flick’s message across even when silent. Compare that to the dialog-heavy official trailer for Divergent…that wouldn’t make sense without sound, and you’ll get an idea of how advertisers will need to adapt.”

BusinessWeek says these ads could “genuinely threaten television companies”.

Constine shared a leaked pitch deck from Facebook last week promising to help advertisers “reach more people than major TV networks”:

Facebook pitch deck

Image: Facebook via TechCrunch

The ads could also eat into Google’s video ad dominance. According to eMarketer (via BusinessWeek), YouTube accounts for 20 percent of the overall online video ad market and drew $5.6 billion in ad revenue this year.

Can Facebook make a dent?

What do you think of Facebook’s new format? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Facebook

  • http://www.keralajobs.co.in Jobs Kerala

    Autoplay videos are not that good for slower connections.

  • sara


  • http://williamhillshops.co.uk/online-vs-land-based/ Clay Morisson

    sure, a handy tool, but might not have the wished effect.

  • Ike

    I HATE seeing ADS in my news feed!!

    I ignore them and go on about my business!!

    I have repeatedly asked FB to stop this crap!!

    I am not on FB to be bombarded with ads!!!

  • http://greenstatehydroponics.weebly.com/ John

    It’s pretty clear that FB is moving more and more to a paid model for most things and trying to drive people into their paid advertising instead of racking up free clicks and exposure with free pages. that’s okay if that’s what they want to do but what sucks, and Google does this too, is they sneak these changes in without public notice or input and it just pisses people off and they lose business instead of gaining it. I wouldn’t put a lot of stack in what they say are up ticks their statistics since they are the ones collecting and reporting on the data. that’s a conflict of interest since they have a vested interest in good news over bad and good news can and is used as a selling tactic. They can report any lie they want. Who’s really going to check. google does the same crap and part of their user agreement for Adwords says no outside entity can do an audit of their data and chalenge it so they can tell you any line of bullshit they want and charge you for it and you have no recourse. So, FB is just a scummy as google now. YAY. Another douche bag corporation!

    • http://www.graphicsplus.info Greg

      like your flow – wish to add .. our operate’g system (opsys) transfers growth of infrastructure to someone (or some entity) .. when the utility falls out of favor – I’m sure the MIC has a use for it – booyah

      time for a New OpSys – “someday soon I’m gonna quit this crazy runaround”

  • http://www.no1.com TACOBILL65

    We ignore ads, block ad services, and black list ads service ip addresses
    so ads are useless on the internet anymore. all they do is annoy people.

    find more creative was to make money than from ads blocking what you are attempting to do all the time

    tell facebook this kind of ad you dont want to see and block all future ads

  • George

    Am I the only person who no longer even bothers to check their FB page?

    Am I Luddite or a trendsetter?

    Come on Diaspora, where are you?

  • http://www.graphicsplus.info Greg

    I already posted this in my feed-blog couple days ago ..

    update on the facebook video ads .. I hear (CNN) facebook will embed in the prime newsfeed column without sound and you should be able to scroll past them .. now for my take: I understand the facebook needs revenue in this inferior opsys we use on planet Earth – but this will bump-up against bandwidth speed – & add the messy factoid, ads in general cost us All in everything We buy .. so ask yourself who wins – Who Looses (& next is it really good to be seen as an advertiser in this day & age)(granted I love media – it’s how we pay for it I’m upset with) … gasoline usage in America – wonder what media’s take is ? .. a job for everyone – “waste – a terrible thing to mind

  • http://www.graphicsplus.info Greg

    ps – CBSthisMorning just announced MarkZ is sell’g shares .. might be time to switch across the board to bonds > the generalPeoples stock certificate (disclaimer – I’m an artist not a stockpusher)

  • http://www.richswebdesign.com Rich

    I believe most people will simply ignore the FB video ads, as they do for the static ads currently used by FB.

  • http://Www.woodflooringnj.org Elie

    I believe if someone don’t have any business on Facebook like pages or promoting he will ignore them as for business ads that’s normal

  • http://www.generalmarketing.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?19-Advertising-Strategies General Marketing

    I noticed that videos are autoplaying on Facebook for me, of course sound is off, buy is this their new video ads? As for them actually going through with this, it kind of irritates me. I see why, but it’s not needed, and it just alienates the users.

  • http://www.amblogistics.com Manager Marketing


  • http://legalshield.com/hub/ecarr ernest

    this has been going on seance 2012 and is very effective way to advertize on the web.