What Do You Think of Facebook's Video Ads?

As a self-centered, self-absorbed blogger (oh wait, that’s redundant) I am more than happy to air my opinions about all and sundry. But on a topic like Facebook’s new auto-play video ads, whose success will rise or fall depending on how they are perceived by a wide variety of consumers, I am more curious to hear what you, gentle reader, think of them -- both as a social media user and also from a marketing perspective. So: if you’ve seen one of the new video ads (or merely seen them demonstrated), what do you think?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

The reason I ask, of course, is that at first glance the video ads, which play automatically in your Facebook news feed, might be considered, well, kind of annoying (from an ordinary user’s point of view). Indeed, according to a survey of 735 Facebook users conducted by Analytic Partners and cited by The Wall Street Journal, 83% of respondents said they would find video ads of the sort introduced by Facebook “intrusive.”

Considering that the mantra for social media marketing has always been to “engage” consumers via “contextually appropriate” advertising, which somehow blends into the social media experience and even amplifies it, rather than “disrupting” it, large-scale deployment of an ad format that users consider intrusive would seem to be an admission of failure.

But on the other hand: so what? Perhaps advertising, with its mission of grabbing our attention and focusing it on things we weren’t previously thinking about, is just inherently disruptive? Meanwhile the fact that TV still receives the lion’s share of advertising dollars suggests that disruptive advertising, however annoying it may be to consumers, still works when done correctly.

And there I go again shooting my mouth off. I can play devil’s advocate for both sides, but in the end all that matters is how Facebook users react to the video ads. So again, please share your thoughts in the comments section -- I’m curious to hear what you think!

4 comments about "What Do You Think of Facebook's Video Ads?".
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  1. Matt Cooper from Addroid, December 18, 2013 at 3:54 p.m.

    I wonder if the 83% of the people who selected "intrusive" on the multiple choice questionnaire were aware or alerted to the fact that the video ads would be completely silent—sound on user interaction only. I wonder how many of these same people would select ANY advertising as "intrusive". I think we need a little more info before we start throwing these numbers around.

  2. Erik Sass from none, December 18, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.

    Good point Matt, the fact that it is muted until the user actually clicks on it is important in assessing how intrusive it actually is or is not. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. David Murdico from Supercool Creative, December 18, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.

    Eric and Matt, good stuff. I think ads are always disruptive. You're always doing something else when an ad appears, and you get mad at it. Then it's up to how interesting or entertaining the ad is. The ad must beg forgiveness for the interruption by proving itself.

    I'll let YouTube pre-rolls play past the 5 second mark if they grab my interest.

    Silent / sound opt-in video ads are less disruptive but you still have something moving in your line of sight which distracts you. Then to play devil's advocate the other way, maybe sound off isn't disruptive enough to get attention.

    We're going to try running them and see how it works out.

  4. Matt Cooper from Addroid, December 18, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

    I feel like there's some confusion in the marketplace as to what a video ad (banner) actually is. In my experience the video ads from inApp ad networks have given the format a bad name. They don't seem to be QAed before flight so they seem to always have the audio on and quite frankly look pretty terrible as far as cropping and preparation for the Display world goes.

    The three big problems:

    1. Advertisers and agencies don't seem to have a clue how to format video for display.
    2. The IAB doesn't have a single spec for in-banner video ads on mobile.
    3. Users hear video and assume the volume will be up just like it is in pre-roll ("intrusive")

    We gotta fix all this stuff and fast. If we want brand dollars to move to digital we're not going to do it with offering crappy 90's style 3-image HTML5 animations and clearly Flash is out of the question. It's video or nothing so it's time for the thought leaders to get that on the agenda.

    Facebook is making a great first step. Maybe we can get the marketplace to follow.

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