Will Consumers Buy Into Facebook’s Video Ads?

    September 14, 2013

By now, almost everybody is aware that Facebook is planning on introducing video ads into users’ News Feeds before the end of the year. Before that happens though, Facebook has to nail the execution. After all, one wrong move and Facebook’s new video ads could send users (and ad revenue) fleeing from the social network.

Do you think Facebook will nail video ads? Or will it only serve to drive away users? Let us know in the comments.

On Thursday afternoon, Facebook announced that it was changing how videos play on News Feeds. Instead of clicking on the video thumbnail to start playing the content, the videos will now start to play automatically when a user sees it. The video will be muted, of course, but the user can activate the audio by clicking on the playing video. Doing so will also take the video into full-screen mode.

So, what does this have to do with Facebook’s video ads? It’s obviously Facebook laying the groundwork for how its video ads are going to work in the future. The new Facebook video only works on personal and band pages for now, but Facebook says that it’s using this as a testbed for its eventual rollout of video ads. Here’s what Facebook had to say in a Q&A about advertiser videos:

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. Over time, we’ll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.

As you can see, Facebook is aware that video ads annoy users. In fact, a report from early August said that Zuckerberg and his engineering team were trying to figure out the best way to make video ads tolerable. It seems that automatically playing the video without sound was their best solution, but doing it that way runs the real risk of said video ads not having any impact at all.

This is where Facebook has to find a delicate balance between making video ads less annoying while still making them appealing to users and advertisers alike. That balance may have already been found in another report stating that Facebook isn’t going to slather a user’s News Feed in video ads all day. Instead, users will only see up to three ads a day from the same advertiser.

All in all, it’s a pretty reasonable set up. Three 15-second ads a day, on top of other Facebook ads, is a small price to pay to keep Facebook free. After all, that’s what this is all about – Facebook making enough money to keep its investors happy, and more importantly, keeping the social network free to use.

With video ads, Facebook may be able to target users who use ad blocking software to remove traditional ads from the social network. Everybody is feeling the sting these days from ad blockers as more and more users opt to just block all ads without ever thinking about the ramifications of blocking the ads on the services they take for granted.

Even if Facebook somehow makes video ads tolerable, it doesn’t mean that users will be accepting of them. According to GoMo News, a study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of AdBlock Plus found that over 70 percent of the respondents don’t want to see ads in Facebook’s mobile app.

The results of the above survey should make Facebook concerned. Facebook mobile use is growing at an explosive rate every quarter with the latest quarter results revealing that U.S. smartphone users spent a combined 225.4 billion minutes on Facebook mobile in Q2 2013. Think of all the ad revenue that would bring in with its new mobile video ads, and how much revenue it would lose if users started using ad blocking software.

This is where things get hairy for Facebook and other platforms that are moving to mobile. The users who already enjoy an ad free experience on desktop due to ad blocking will expect the same thing on mobile. They’ll pursue ad blocking software and other methods to stop Facebook’s attempts to monetize its mobile platform.

Facebook’s is almost entirely reliant on ad revenue these days. It’s just the reality of the modern Web. It’s also a reality that users are becoming increasingly hostile to all forms of advertising. Video ads are not going to improve the situation. The best Facebook can do is make them as tolerable as possible, and point out to users that these ads are the very thing that’s keeping the mobile app they hold dear free to use.

Do you think users will be accepting of Facebook’s video ads? Will they support Facebook’s monetization strategies as long as it keeps Facebook free? Let us know in the comments.

[Image: Facebook]