Facebook Sets the Stage for Video Ads With This New Trial Run


Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is testing a new video feature on mobile versions of its service. But don’t get too excited, because the social network is only readying its site to become the new home of television-like video ads that are soon expected to run Facebook’s News Feed show.

In a blog post Thursday, Facebook alerted its users that the site was beginning to test a new way to watch videos on the social network’s feed. The post reads: “Now when you see a video in News Feed, it comes to life and starts playing. Videos initially play silently, and if you want you can tap to play with sound in full screen. Scroll past if you don’t want it.”

Reuters reports that only the videos posted by Facebook users, celebrities, or musicians will have the auto-play function during the test. However, that’s expected to soon change, and Facebook even said it will “explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.”

The new mobile testing shouldn’t come as a surprise to social media users updated on their Facebook news, because we learned in July that Facebook was already offering advertisers the opportunity to secure 15-second video slots featured on users’ News Feeds for anything from $1 million to $2.5 million per day.

Though the price tag might seem high, Facebook knows the social media face time is worth the cost to advertisers because the company’s 1.5 million users continue to spend hours on the site every day. And now that we’ve learned the ad videos will likely be put on auto-play, advertisers won’t have to worry about the possibility of users not clicking on their videos — Facebook friends won’t have a choice.

Before Facebook officially offers advertisers free reign over users’ News Feeds, however, the company wants to make sure its technology is capable and also needs to determine users’ response to the feature. Critics have already pointed out that auto-play videos could affect smartphone users’ wireless data usage and battery lives, but the company has refuted these claims, since users can simply scroll past the ads in their News Feeds.

For now, Reuters reports that only a small number of Facebook users are taking part in the video test, but that number is likely to expand soon.

Upon hearing of Facebook’s new trial run, the site’s stock set a new all-time high of $45.62 per share Thursday, but was no longer gaining Friday. Investors believe the company’s new video ads will significantly boost Facebook’s revenue and monetization abilities, and that success could also leak over to ads on its popular Instagram app.

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