We've been hearing about Facebook video ads for so long now, with so many rumors and tests, that I hal expected the company to just give up on them altogether. I'm sure there are more than a few people out there who would be perfectly happy if that was the case.
Now, finally, for better or worse, they are here, and will begin to roll out over the next few months "with a select group of advertisers," Facebook announced on Thursday.
As previously explained, each ad will be 15 econds long, and will begin playing without sound, as to not become intrusive. They will stop if the user scrolls past, but if they click on the video it will expand into full screen and play with sound.
The ads themselves will be "bought and measured in a way that’s similar to how advertisers already buy and measure ads on TV," Facebook said, and each one will be reviewed, and assessed, for its potential engagement by a company called Ace Metrix before it is deployed on Facebook.
Facebook has been taking a remarkable level of caution with putting these video advertisements onto News Feeds, probably because of the potential interference and disruption they could potentially cause for users.
Rumors of Facebook video ads first popped up in December of 2012, and the company first began testing out auto play videos on News Feeds in September of 2013.
The company revealed in December that that those videos were successful enough in the three months of testing to warrant putting them in the hands of advertisers. The video tests resulted in an over 10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos.
The first video ad test was a partnership with Summit Entertainment and Mindshare for a movie called Divergent. Apparently those tests were successful as well, since the ads are all set to go live.
Mark Zuckerberg himself addressed the issue of rolling video ads out too quickly on a conference call following the release of the company's third-quarter numbers in October.
He called the experience of putting ads on Instagram "very positive so far," and pointed to it as proof that "auto play can be a good experience on a feed."
What he learned, he said, is that people need to feel that they are in control of the experience by being able to simply scroll away from ads they don't like.
"This is an important launch for Facebook overall because the addition to video content to the stream could be one of the most positive things that we've done in a long time for making it more engaging. But if we do it poorly then it could also be a negative thing," he said.
"And we're trying to take our time to make sure we do this in a very positive way, and I'm pretty confident that we will, but that's why you're seeing us take the process that we have on this."