Facebook Tests Auto-Play Videos in the Newsfeed
By Eryk Bagshaw
Facebook is currently testing auto-play videos in their news feed on mobile devices with the Facebook app installed, a decision that will likely impact not only future revenue projections but the user experience of their 1.15 billion members.
Reports suggest that the clips will play automatically and silently as users scroll through their newsfeed. Should a user decide to watch the video, a quick tap will take it to full screen and automate audio.
At this stage only a small number of users are beta-testing the service and the service will be restricted to posts by musicians and individuals whom the user already follows. The service will only work with videos uploaded directly to facebook, so a potential torrent of YouTube embeds will hopefully be avoided.
Facebook spokesperson Momo Zhou said, ‘Because bringing video to life in a feed is something that’s going to really change the way users experience Facebook…we wanted to sort of tread water lightly.’
Brand advertisements are excluded from the testing at this stage, but who knows where this new functionality will take advertising on Facebook. They have already stated that they will ‘explore how to bring this to marketers in the future’
Data usage is another key factor in the development process but ‘Facebook does not expect the auto play videos to have a big impact on smartphone users wireless data usage and monthly phone bills,’ said Zhou.
Tired of YouTube ads popping up before every clip?
A similar experience might be in the offing for Facebook users if the marketing potential of these moves are realised. It could lead to a frustrating experience for Facebook users, especially those already put off by the unsolicited appearance of non-video ads in their newsfeed.
Moves towards greater advertising revenue through video content have been in the works for Facebook since at least July when it was reported that Facebook was planning to offer television style ads for up to $2.5 million dollars a day, a healthy revenue stream for the shareholders of the publicly listed company.
YouTube has already shown how lucrative online video advertising can be, hauling in billions of dollars’ worth of online video advertising revenue over the past year.
Facebook will await feedback from its beta-testing before implementing the full scale rollout.