Facebook adds autoplaying video ads in News Feeds; will they annoy?

The Wall Street Journal | TechCrunch


Facebook will start selling video ads in News Feeds starting this week, The Wall Street Journal reports. Users on desktop and mobile will see them beginning Thursday, according to the Journal's unnamed sources.

The ads will autoplay in users' feeds, reflecting a change others, including TechCrunch, had noticed being rolled out to all users last week for native Facebook videos after a test period earlier in the year.

TechCrunch noted what seems to be an opt-in setting on mobile devices for videos to autoplay only on WiFi to protect data plans from being ransacked.

However, Facebook for Business indicated in a post that video ads by default would download only when mobile devices are connected to WiFi:

Is there a way to prevent these video ads from playing as they appear on screen?

The video ads will begin to play as you scroll through News Feed, but if you don’t want to watch, you can simply keep scrolling and the video will stop playing. Video ads that start playing when they appear on screen are pre-downloaded when you are on WiFi so they do not consume additional data.

Facebook also notes that audio won't be activated until the video is clicked or tapped. That means it won't take over your mobile device's audio from a podcast or music that's already playing or surprise everyone around you with a blast of sound if you're not wearing headphones.

The video themselves also won't take over the screen until activated. TechCrunch's Josh Constine notes that it's easy to scroll past the autoplaying native videos, calling the experience "a bit like the moving photos in the Harry Potter newspapers."

  • Sam Kirkland

    Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor, where he helped launch digital magazines and ebooks in addition to other web duties.

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