Facebook with 1.2B members globally, has announced plans to run 15-second video ads in users' newsfeeds from late April or early May 2014

The 15-second targeted ads will play without any sound, will stop entirely if users scroll past them, and appear in news feeds no more than three times per day. This is as part of its delicate balancing act of seeking to increase revenue while trying not to aggravate users.

  • Each 15-sec video ad will start playing without sound as it appears on screen and stop if people scroll past. If people tap the video, it will expand into a full-screen view and sound will start.
  • Facebook will only allow video ads that it judges are of a high-enough quality standard, and these assessments will be conducted in partnership with Ace Metrix, the video evaluation firm
  • Audiences for these premium videos will be measured by Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), and advertisers will then pay according to what Nielsen OCR discovers.
  • Advertisers will be able to choose specific times of the day for their videos as well as the means to target users by age and gender.

I’m not surprised that Facebook has launched this video format. Like any FB user, I am anxious to see how intrusive this could be and evidently such concerns have taken long for FB to make this product available to the market. Native video formats have been available for almost a year, and have been found to be extremely popular with both advertisers and publishers. Native video seems to have emerged as an important video advertising format of the future. Facebook's foray into video ads would further propel the momentum of the convergence of TV and online video.

Facebook's reach and the built-in functionality for sharing ads with friends will make this an interesting space to watch. Clever, targeted short-form brand content could be more successful than online video ads - especially with an opportunity to share. I am particularly curious to see how this plays out for mobile users where connectivity issues risk introducing load problems. Will the scrolling function within a mobile experience effectively launch each video in the feed as the user looks for new posts?

Historically advertisers have struggled to unify their media buys across devices due to the lack of standardized metrics. Nielsen OCR is just one solution, not the be all and end all of metrics in this space. We can hope to see more metrics and tools built to measure and manage this space in the future.

When Facebook launches the service later this year, it will be in a kind of competition with Twitter, which is also targeting TV advertisers with products such as tweet ads that marry with programs.

How do you think this would influence marketing communications?
Do share your thoughts.

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