Video Ads Coming to Facebook? Oh Yes, It’s Happening.

Facebook Ads vs Google & YouTube

While most media attention over the past few days has fixated on Instagram’s highly controversial privacy policy changes, another key announcement out of the Facebook camp with specific relevance to video marketers is also well worth your attention. Yes, 2013 will bring a new era of Facebook ad strategy to its newsfeed – video. ‘Autoplay’ ads are set to debut on the mega platform in the first six months of 2013, and are likely to pull large ad dollars from TV advertisers to the site. With reports from Ad Age and Mashable pouring in, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is – will it work?

Like its current ads, Facebook ‘Autoplay’ ads can be targeted to specific groups and interest categories of Facebook users on their desktop, mobile and tablet versions of Facebook. Rumor has it that Facebook will look to cap the length of these video ads at 15 seconds (shorter than the normal 30-second minimums) and will start playing automatically in both the left and right columns of the screen. Advertisers can expect to be able to play the same video ad to a Facebook user up to three times a day across all devices.

To what degree Facebook’s move is a threat or challenge to incumbent ad-supported video ecosystems like YouTube and Hulu remains to be seen, but it’s clear that embracing video (particularly if done better than Facebook’s own recently maligned “Facebook is like a Chair” video campaign) could be a big money maker for the social giant. With all this excitement about the possibilities of ‘Autoplay’ ads, many advertisers are still wondering about the details: will these ads be able to be shown to just a brand’s Facebook fan base? Friends of fans? Facebook users at large? Will they eventually be inserted pre-roll into video posts like YouTube’s TrueView ads?

A few concerns that have been floating around the internet since ‘Autoplay’ has been introduced is the actual auto play function, which consumers often see as intrusive and annoying. Advertising execs wonder here if those auto plays should count towards a view even if the user has scrolled or clicked away from them. The biggest concern though is how consumers will react. With negative outrages coming with each major Facebook change (Timeline, ticker etc), not to mention the aforementioned Instagram PR debacle, advertisers might be hesitant to get on board straightaway without seeing how the first videos are received. No matter what the concerns are, this is expected to be a big advancement for the Facebook as well as the advertising industry in 2013.

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