In case you missed it, Facebook has announced that it will start testing a new feature on a small percentage of iOS and Android users who live in the US. For those who are part of the test, their mobile feeds will start auto-playing user-uploaded videos in-line as they scroll through them. Videos from verified pages, as well as fan pages for bands and musicians will also auto-play in the feed. The auto-playing videos will be silent by default until you tap on them to expand them to full screen.
Videos that have been uploaded by brands, as well as through off-Facebook video sources such as YouTube, will not benefit from this new feature. According to TechCrunch:
The feature only works for videos uploaded to Facebook directly, or via apps like Instagram and others that save an instance of the video to your profile.
How Facebook Marketers Can Benefit
While the new feature is limited to videos uploaded by individuals, bands and musicians during testing, Facebook marketers should be very interested in it because of the possibility that Facebook will make a new video ad unit. You see, the problem with the old-fashioned way of displaying videos in the feed was that you had to tap them before they would play.
According to TechCrunch:
The test seems like a big improvement on Facebook’s current video playback system, where users have to actively click to load and start a video. Though that only takes an extra second or two, it’s a time investment and barrier to watching videos. Auto-play could get videos more views, and therefore more likes and comments, which could encourage more people to upload videos or share them to Facebook from Instagram. That in turn could get more people spending more time on the feed, which Facebook monetizes with ads.
Overcoming the Challenges of Video Ads
Of course, there are a few downsides or challenges with creating video ads. For one thing, they are more expensive to produce. Visually, an image takes about the same space on a feed as a video. It’s also more challenging to create an engaging video compared to an engaging image. There’s also the concern that auto-playing video ads will be shunned because they will instantly eat up users’ data plans.
However, the new Facebook auto-playing feature already addresses a lot of these problems. By not requiring a tap from the user to initiate a video ad, the video can start playing as soon as it enters the screen and engage users from their feeds. Also, they won’t start playing until they appear on screen and will stop playing when you scroll past them to minimize data usage. That way, you won’t suddenly find yourself consuming your data more than you should after just a few minutes of browsing Facebook.
Maximize Revenue from Mobile Devices
It’s no secret that most Facebook users access their accounts and feeds via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. However the revenue generated from mobile ads is only a respectable 40%. A new video ad unit using the new auto-play feature sounds like a great way for Facebook to monetize with ads and give advertisers a new ad unit with a high ROI.
The Verge says:
The eventual launch of video ads is expected to be a big source of revenue for Facebook as it continues to put a strong focus on monetization following its IPO just over a year ago. Ad Age reports that daily video spot orders could bring in $1 to $2.4 million each, and should function just like the new feature that the company is announcing today. Facebook isn’t hiding its interest in the video commercials either.