facebook-adsWe've heard rumblings about a new ad format on Facebook for a while now, but today, the social network finally rolled it out. Say hello to auto-play video ads in your News Feed!

But, these auto-play video ads for desktop and mobile aren't like your typical auto-play video ads. Normally, auto-play video ads will just start playing -- sound and all -- and then you have to spend 10 minutes searching around on your screen before you can finally find where it's coming from. (Yeah, they're annoying.) 

Facebook's auto-play video ads, on the other hand, will start playing only when you scroll past them and the sound will be off unless you decide to enlarge the video. So you won't be at the top of your News Feed trying to hunt for that annoying video ad playing at the bottom -- you'll just see videos auto-playing as you scroll past, but without sound. It's quite similar to the way Instagram videos work

If you decide to continue scrolling past the video ad, nothing will happen. The video will keep rolling without sound, and you can go on your merry way. 

If you decide to click on the video to watch it, the sound will appear. Once you're done watching -- either when you reach the end of the video itself or decide to click out of the full-screen video -- a carousel of videos from the advertiser will appear where the original video was. If you want to see the whole process in action, check out the video on Facebook's announcement post.

Does This Ad Format Actually Work?

This ad format is still in beta with a few different advertisers, so most of us won't have access to trying out this new feature for our brands. In fact, you may not even see ads in your Feeds quite yet -- as of publish time this morning, none of my colleagues had seen any auto-play video ads in their News Feeds either.

Though it's still not available to all advertisers, Facebook says that the initial test of the ad format works. "Through the course of this test, we’ve seen a more than 10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing, and commenting on videos," the company said in its announcement post. Still, I'm somewhat skeptical of the data. There's nothing to indicate that those shares or comments were positive -- there's just a high volume of them. 

Regardless of the initial data, this is a new ad format that Facebook desperately wants to work. The social network wants a chunk out of Google's YouTube Advertising pie -- the possibility of matching (or taking over) YouTube's $5.6 billion revenue in the past year is just too juicy for the social network to pass up. If Facebook can monetize video ads in the News Feed, they can look forward to huge revenue numbers like this coming their way.

Your Action Items

To recap: Facebook's new video ad format is rolling out to News Feeds today, but most of us won't be able to test this format for our own brands.

We're not even sure that it's going to be a viable ad format. If we had to take a stab, we'd say this new format could be beneficial for brand awareness and fan engagement -- but it most likely will flop for lead generation goals. The call-to-action for the video is to watch more videos, not check out your brand's website or landing page. If your main goal with Facebook is to generate leads, you should look to other organic methods and advertising formats. 

So your action item here is to sit back, relax, and wait for other advertisers to test this format out. See how you like this new format in your own feed. Does it feel interruptive? Do you actually watch videos that appear? What do you after you're done watching?

Then, see how other people are reacting to these videos. Are they getting lots of negative comments and shares? Depending on what you find, you may decide that new format is the next big thing ... or maybe something you want your business to stay away from. 

Besides watching what others do and using their tests to inform your own marketing, you don't have to change up anything in your marketing because of this announcement ... that is, unless you'd like to add your own thoughts about this in the comments below. ;)

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Originally published Dec 17, 2013 10:39:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


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