According to a report by AllThingsD, Facebook will not be able to launch its auto play video ads before 2014. The news comes as a disappointment to many advertisers eager to launch campaigns using the new feature.
The ads are supposed to automatically play the video portion of their content; the audio portion is available only if the user activates it. No one from Facebook has publicly commented on the reason for the latest delay, but the social media company’s concerns about user pushback appear at the very least to be a contributing factor.
Whether or not the desktop-based ads will be successful remains to be seen. A 2012 poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos Public Affairs found that 80 percent of Facebook users ignored the website’s advertising and that 34 percent spent less time on the site because of burnout. GM removed paid ads from Facebook in May 2012, citing their ineffectiveness just before the website’s IPO.
Morgan Stanley does not share in the skepticism however, as some of its analysts reported earlier this year (long before the apparent rollout delay) that Facebook’s auto play ads had the potential to become a $1 billion business in 2013 and over five times that amount in 2019. The report is based on the premise that younger users spend more time on the Internet than they do watching TV, and that Facebook has prepared for this shift.
Another problem that Facebook used to have is that it did not have any advertising model for the mobile segment of the population. Its site is typically accessed through an app instead of a browser. On smaller displays the three-column layout with ads in the right margin used in the desktop version of the site is impractical on a smartphone. As a result, ads were simply left out of mobile apps.
Facebook addressed this problem with its recent announcement of video advertising for mobile apps that will appear in newsfeeds. These ads currently are limited to promoting other apps, but adapting that technology to general advertising content should not be a challenge.
It appears that Facebook has responded well to critics with a plan that addresses previous shortcomings that failed to tap the full potential of ad revenue. If the problems with users tuning out ads in 2012 are not an issue with auto play ads and if the mobile app ads have at least moderate success, Facebook will be poised for growth in 2014.
Edited by Alisen Downey