Thursday, December 20, 2012

Facebook Unveils Plans for Video Advertising

Facebook unveiled plans this week for a new app that will offer video advertisers the opportunity to target Facebook users. The product is expected to launch in the first half of 2013 and will add an advertising element largely unfamiliar to the Facebook interface: video ads.

According to AdAge, the ads will show up in users' news feeds on both the desktop and mobile version of Facebook. Advertisers will be able to show the same video to a single user up to three times a day. Facebook will also likely cap the length of these videos at 15 seconds, which may add a challenging layer of content creation for advertisers accustomed to scripting the traditional 30 spot.

This is not the first time Facebook has served video ads to users. In 2010, Facbeook experimented with video advertising in the bottom right of the screen, as seen below, but later removed the premium video ad feature.

This time, the ads will be much more intrusive in that they'll likely be set up to auto play. Therefore the ads will expand out of the news feed and into the left and right hand columns of the interface without any action from the user.

The new feature is expected to incite outrage from Facebook users, and loud applause from advertisers and investors. In addition to raking in millions of dollars, the new feature will also present a massive opportunity for brands to extend their reach to a new web audience by leveraging Facebook's existing targeting tools.  It will also be a great place for advertisers to extend their campaign story with additional content that might not necessarily have made it to TV.

The details around targeting are still in the works. While it's certain that advertisers will use information in a Facebook user's profile to serve ads, it's still unclear as to whether or not that user, or anyone in their network, needs to have "liked" the advertiser's brand page in order to see the ad in their feed.

Though many are speculating this could have negative implications on Facebook membership, I have a feeling that Zuckerberg will be just fine. According to the Facebook newsroom, the site had about one billion monthly active users as of October 2012. Just as we've gotten accustomed to static ads on the site, we'll get used to the TV ads. And just as we've gotten used to a couple seconds of ad pre-roll before any Youtube video, we'll get used to this. If anything, it might discourage users, myself included, from checking Facebook eight times a day, which wouldn't be the worst thing to ever happen.

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