Facebook has been testing its video function since September where it hopes to enable videos to come to life in the News Feed. This week, it has started to test format for advertisers. The social media giant is working with Summit Entertainment and Mindshare to promote a series of videos for the upcoming film, Divergent.
Facebook says that some users will see be seeing these video ads come to life as they scroll through News Feed on mobile and desktop. Rather than having to click or tap on the content, videos will begin to play as they appear on screen without sound. If users don’t want to watch the video, they can simply scroll past it.
Forrester’s VP Nate Elliott said the move further confirms that Facebook has abandoned social marketing in favor of standard push-style ads.
“Marketers love video, and will spend $3.6 billion on online video ads in the US this year. And now Facebook will rival YouTube as a source of online video ad reach. We’ll be watching to see how far and how quickly Facebook pushes these ads,” he said.
Elliott added the company hasn’t always been smart about testing new ad formats and rolling them out slowly, but “that’ll be important here to avoid compromising both the user experience and the video ads’ effectiveness.”
(Read also: Has Facebook really failed marketers?)
The move is driven by Facebook as it claims to see a 10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos.
“Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns, particularly when brands want to increase awareness and attention over a short period of time,” said Facebook in a statement.
“From launching new products to shifting brand sentiment, this video format is ideal for marketers who are looking to make a large-scale impact, and for people who will discover more great content in their News Feeds.”
On mobile devices, all videos that begin playing as they appear on the screen will have been downloaded in advance when the device was connected to WiFi — meaning this content will not consume data plans, even if users are not connected to WiFi at the time of playback.
This format isn’t intended for every video ad yet but Facebook claims it will be refining this new way for “brands to tell stories on Facebook to ensure the best experience for people and marketers”.