Remember the boom and ultimate demise of MySpace? The younger generation may not even know that Facebook had a predecessor, one that millions of people visited and updated regularly. However, it looks like Facebook will go a similar route as they begin to allow auto-play advertising on the site.
According to information from advertising executives, Facebook plans to insert auto-play video ads in the News Feed. These ads seem like a great idea for the advertisers, since it means that their audience doesn’t have a choice in watching the video. Users who are actively visiting the site could see multiple ads over a range of topics, and advertisers could cater the ads to things that the users have “liked” on Facebook.
Pitfalls of this Type of Advertising
Image via Flickr by Sean MacEntee
However, many users and some media experts believe that this type of advertising is intrusive and bothersome. Facebook has received constant backlash for its continuous addition of advertising to the site, and this is sure to bring more. Advertisers agree that if users are unhappy with the style of ads, it doesn’t send a good message for their product or brand image. These types of video ads could actually hinder the user experience by making pages slower to load and harder to scroll around, especially on older computers and on mobile devices, making Facebook much less fun to use and much more of a pain.
Some early studies show that some teenage Facebook users are already shutting down their profiles on the social media site, partially due to increases in advertising.
Numbers and Results
The biggest problem of MySpace was its focus on the financial aspects, instead of how the experience would be for its users. It became so overloaded with ads that many of its users switched to Facebook, which had much less clutter and offered a more positive experience.
According to a pre-launch study, sources say that these video ads could increase Facebook’s daily revenue by $1.5 million. However, if the auto-play videos frustrate users, they may abandon their profiles on the site completely.
Some Positive Factors
Facebook does have a few positive facts floating around the internet: their videos will be shorter than other auto-play ads, and they will start with no sound. If a user is interested in the product and chooses to activate the audio, it will then start over at the beginning. This is less irritating to most users, since other video ads are often blaringly loud and very bothersome.
Demise of Facebook
Approximately 1 in 7 people across the world is a registered Facebook user. Amidst massive privacy issues, lawsuits, and other battles, the site has continued to grow. Unlike services such as Apple TV which allow users freedom, Facebook’s decision to insert auto-play ads restricts user control. Many people have elected to stop using the site because of increased advertising, and these auto-play video ads will push those numbers even higher due to frustration with the content. An average Facebook user spends 6.5 hours per month on Facebook, much of which is from a wireless internet connection. Research shows that this user could see as many as 400 commercials during that time.
Facebook must use caution in continuing to increase its advertising, or it will veer down the same path as MySpace, and the ads will essentially be worthless.