Advertising Facebook

Video Ads Come to Facebook: Drawbacks and Concerns

facebook video ad

For the last year or so, there have been rumblings of Facebook video advertisements making their way into the news feed of one the world’s biggest social media websites. Facebook decided to give us an early Christmas present Dec. 19 and unveil the very first official Facebook video ad. If you are not familiar with the new Facebook video ads and how they work, here is the skinny on how this new method of advertising is going to be established:

  • The ads are going to be placed directly in the news feed, similar to the sponsored posts that are sprinkled in with user added content currently.
  • Advertisements are going to be equipped with an auto-run feature. The ads will begin playing without audio as a user scrolls past them. They will cease playing when the user has scrolled past them. Users can click the ad to have audio.
  • For mobile, the ads will pop up on the screen similar to the desktop version. To avoid using data, the advertisements will download while Wi-Fi is available, and then they will be ready to play.
  • Once an ad is completed, a carousel with additional ads will be displayed, giving the user the option of viewing more content and creating an advertisement chain.
  • In April of this year, Adage reported that Facebook was asking $1 million for a 15-second ad to be displayed on profiles for a day.
  • This auto-run feature has been in place for user added videos over the last few weeks as an experiment of this new feature.
  • The first ad that ran was for the movie Divergent, which is due out later this year.
  • The goal of these ads is to increase user interaction with advertisements, and the method has proven to be effective so far.

Now that you have an idea of how these advertisements work as well as their intended purpose, here are a few issues that I have with this new method of advertising.

The first couple of issues relate to the advertisers who are going to, potentially, be paying to use this feature. The first issue is that existing online ads cannot be added to this new advertising environment. Although this may change as the process becomes easier, it may deter some advertisers if they have to go through some extra steps to use Facebook Ads.

The second issue relates to the cost of these advertisements. If they are going to cost $1 million for a 15-second ad, that puts them at the level of Superbowl advertising costs. Even though they may be active for an entire day, they are operating in a much busier environment. I believe that this will push the customer interaction with these advertisements way down over time. Once the novelty of the self-playing ad has worn off, the Facebook news feed will become nothing more than a game of “scroll past the ad.”

Moving away from the advertisers, the users may be in for a rough ride with these Facebook advertisements. For me, these ads represent the first large-scale attempt at online advertisers taking away user control when it comes to how they interact with online advertising. I am used to counting the seconds until I can skip a YouTube advertisement, but having an auto-playing advertisement that can only be avoided by going to another section of the page is pushing it a little too far. As time goes on, I am sure that these ads will be much more strategically placed. That means that If I want to read a status update from a friend about his new car and comment him to congratulate, I can only do so while a Honda advertisement plays right next to the status. These ads will be much more intrusive on the mobile platform where space is limited.

My second issue with these ads is that they can open up the possibility for mandatory ads on different parts of the website. If I want to upload a “selfie” after I have finished at the gym, I don’t want to have a mandatory ad for deodorant popping up next to my sweaty image of self-promotion. In all seriousness though, when mandatory advertising becomes the norm, one of two things will happen: The users will either abandon the platform if they can, or customers will have to accept the new baseline and just know the unavoidable things in life as death, taxes and Facebook ads.

This set up makes me think of Minority Report where the eyes of passersby are scanned and the advertiser will take the information and communicate directly with the potential customer, whether they want to hear it or not. As of right now, these Facebook ads will only make some sections of the news feed visible when they are viewed with the advertisement, but how long will it be until the entire website is littered with must-view ads? When unavoidable television ads come on I can change the channel, if Facebook ads become the next big thing I will have to exercise my remaining freedom as a consumer, and close the laptop.

About the author


Evan Wright

Evan Wright is the digital content manager at DigitalParc, a Minneapolis Web design and SEO company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the author of The Art of Saving: How to Create Your Money Masterpiece, a consumer advice book. Evan specializes in content strategy, SEO, and online marketing.

1 Comment

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  • Although I’m NOT a Facebook user (and thus, I may be missing something here), I’m a little confused with the following;
    •For mobile, the ads will pop up on the screen similar to the desktop version. To avoid using data, the advertisements will download while Wi-Fi is available, and then they will be ready to play.

    The way I’m interpreting that, is that the ad will be downloaded anyway – whether the user views it or not (and hence, will have used some of their data limits regardless).

    Boy, am I glad I chose to stay away from Facebook…