Facebook Really Wants You To Watch Videos In The News Feed

The social media site is now making videos play automatically, without any action from the user.

It may not yet have the brands in place for its video advertising launch, but Facebook may have just given us a glimpse of what we are going to see.

The firm announced yesterday that it was debuting auto-play videos on its news feed. Hmm, haven't we seen this before on Vine, and with Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, whose adoption of video is definitely treading on Vine's toes?

Well, yes, and no. Yes, in that the videos play automatically as soon as they are in the center of your device's screen. And no, because they play silently until the user presses the Play button. Now, that sounds to me like a future mobile video advertising system. Facebook, of course, merely said this in the press release: "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."

Given the news this week that Instagram will have its own advertising network within a year, wouldn't it be the sensible thing for its parent company to develop one that works on both platforms?

[Image: Facebook]

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  • Anthony Reardon

    I've been saying this for years, but online ads don't work. People simply don't like them. It's not so much that they are disruptive, because most people simply ignore, click to close, etc, but that they are intrusive against the desired online experience and motivations people have for going on the web.

    Google and Facebook make a lot of money from advertisement, but all that financial success reflects money exchanging hands between businesses and B2B services- not between businesses and consumers. Advertisements are intrusive like commercials are for television. Given the choice, people will choose a service where they do not have to be solicited. It's a fatal flaw in most web technology monetization models where people don't want to pay for use, and the companies are at a loss for how to make money.

    You have to go back a while to print, radio, and television before the internet. It's the traditional business model for those channels, and we're still stuck on it as if "digital" was just a new medium to do the same old thing. It's not, but I understand the temptation to get a cut out of the nearly 700 billion dollar industry.

    People in the industry use "digital media" and "social media" as if they were perfectly interchangeable, but I think they need to start thinking more in terms of "social" and "media"- that is, it's about people and their experience. I fail to see what is so exciting about Facebook's video advertising concept, and hard to imagine they will do anything really innovative with it. With that said, video is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Best, Anthony