Glob help us. According to Bloomberg, Facebook is about to get a hell of a lot more annoying. An unnamed source from inside the company claims that Facebook will soon start selling 15-second long “TV-style ads” for as much as 2.5 Million dollars a day. Where would those commercials go? Right in your newsfeed of course. This is from Bloomberg:
While the social network already allows advertisers to upload videos to their Facebook page and then broadcast them to a user’s news feed, the new service would let marketers buy their way directly into a person’s feed with a 15-second pitch, according to the people. That’s typically the minimum length of a television commercial.
It’s still not clear how exactly this is going to work. But to me it sounds like these commercials are going to be set to (ugh) auto-play. It’s the only way this plan would make sense. Right now, a company can make a video and post it to facebook and
everyone lots of people who like the company’s page will see the video in their news feed. This new plan would get ads in front of users even if they don’t like the sponsors page but that fact alone doesn’t really warrant the 2.5 million dollar price tag. And it also doesn’t fit with Facebook’s desire to compete with TV networks for advertisers. Again, this is from Bloomberg:
With Facebook, the idea would be to capitalize on the millions of users who actively check the site on a daily basis, including during the prime-time hours coveted by television advertisers. As of last quarter, 61 percent of Facebook members were using the site daily — a number that has risen despite management predictions that it would decline.
“Every night, 88 million to 100 million people are actively using Facebook during prime-time TV hours in the United States alone,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said last week on a conference call about second-quarter results.
It looks like Ad Age has actually been on this story for a while and their sources have been talking about auto-play ads since last year. This is from an Ad Age article from December:
In what’s sure to be a controversial move, the visual component of the Facebook video ads will start playing automatically — a dynamic known as “autoplay” — according to two of the executives. Facebook is still debating whether to have the audio component of the ads activated automatically as well, one of these people said.
And here’s a new Ad Age story from April:
While the format of the units isn’t totally nailed down, it’s widely assumed that they’ll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users’ screens on the desktop version of Facebook, which Ad Age reported in December. (Facebook has also been at work on a way to make video ads stand out on mobile apps, though it’s still unclear how it intends to accomplish this.)
So….isn’t that exciting! Now we all get to sit and watch a 15-second commercial before we’re allowed to start using facebook. I’m sure that everyone will love this new feature and no one one, anywhere will complain. Ok but seriously people are going to lose their shit the first time an autoplay ad pops up in their newsfeed. I think a lot of users will just start clicking away from Facebook rather than sit through the same commercial over and over and over. And yes, you will see the same videos many, many times because apparently the ads will be targeted. So heavy users can expect to see the same commercials up to 3 times a day.
But there is a little bit of good news here. A lot of companies are already using video contests and open spec assignments to get video content for their facebook pages. So I think we’re going to see a lot of big commercial contests where the goal will be to find new auto-play ads for facebook. These commercials are going to have to be entertaining as hell to ensure that people don’t leave facebook whenever a commercial pops up. Creating funny, unique, compelling videos ain’t easy and I think a lot of companies will get frustrated and eventually turn to “the crowd” for wacky, outside-the-box style content.