If you think you’re safe from such videos because you surf Facebook on your smartphone, think again. They will auto-play on both desktop and web versions of the social network, appearing as a natural extension of your News Feed. Facebook says this won’t impact data plans because the videos are downloaded to a device in advance when a WiFi connection is detected. However, Facebook is also overlooking the fact some people have data caps on their home broadband, and playing video is going to reduce your smartphone’s battery life.
It’s unclear how often these video adverts will appear, but they can be up to 15 seconds long. Facebook is also well aware that such ads can annoy users, and that’s part of the reason why they are launching so late this year. However, I can’t see what’s changed to stop that annoyance. Videos auto-playing, even when they aren’t adverts, is frustrating.
The main reason Facebook is pushing ahead with this simply comes down to cash. TV advertising is worth over $66 billion a year, and they want a piece of the action. If it proves profitable in the short term, then expect it to become a permanent fixture on your News Feed next year.
Facebook is predictably presenting the video ads as a positive addition for consumers to the service that aims to enhance the quality of News Feed adverts. Initially only a small subset of Facebook users will see them, with the first video being for the movie Divergent. It will play automatically without sound and you can’t stop it playing. However, if you click or tap the video it will go full screen and the sound will start playing. Once finished, two more videos will be presented to watch.
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