Facebook (News - Alert) is moving toward displaying video ads – as it now undergoes a limited test of videos which are playing automatically on mobile versions of the popular social media service.
Users who want to hear the video can tap their smartphone, and they can also enlarge the video to a full-screen size, according to Seeking Alpha.
The results from the test will be monitored and analyzed by Facebook in apparent preparation for video ads.
In recent news reports, there was speculation that Facebook eventually will charge between $1 million and $2.4 million to display 15-second auto-play video ads.
For now, the idea is being tested by offering video in news feeds of subscribers. It is limited to Facebook's mobile apps on Android (News - Alert) and iOS operating systems, news reports said. Users can discontinue the auto-play feature. Users can also scroll past the videos, too, and they will not play.
Videos from services such as YouTube (News - Alert) and Vimeo will not be able to play automatically. Yet, other video from apps such as Camera Awesome, Cinemagram, Snapshot, and SocialCam can be played automatically, Ad Age said. So can video from Instagram.
"At first, this feature will be limited to videos posted by individuals, musicians, and bands,” Facebook added in a statement. “Over time, we’ll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future…This is starting with a limited test and will continue to roll out over time.”
Later, it could have a major impact given that Facebook has 1.15 billion members.
"Because bringing video to life in a feed is something that's going to really change the way users' experience Facebook...we wanted to sort of tread water lightly and start with this and see how it goes," Momo Zhou, a Facebook spokesman, added in a statement to Reuters (News - Alert).
Facebook has not detailed when the video ads could start appearing on smartphones, but it has been talking about the feature for over a year, Ad Age said. The video ads were supposed to be offered soon, but an October launch was delayed, Ad Age added. They were to be offered for top retail shopping periods, such as Black Friday (News - Alert) and the shopping period leading up to winter holidays.
There is some concern among potential advertisers that Facebook users may find the ads “obtrusive,” the price is relatively high, and the product had yet to undergo testing, Ad Age said. Facebook has said that the videos will not significantly drain a phone’s battery.
One review, from TechSpot, reports that, “Early feedback on the new feature is mostly positive as videos are said to load quickly, even over a wireless signal. Clips played seamlessly while being moved around in the feed and once a video dips off the screen, it stops playing to avoid excessive data usage.”
Another reviewer, from TechCrunch, said, “I got to play around with a demo version of the auto-play videos in the feed, and they felt smooth and natural.”
“It reminded me of the newspapers from the Harry Potter films, where people in photos move and wave back at the reader,” the review adds. “Videos loaded without much delay even on a wireless signal and played steadily while being moved around in the feed. As you scroll past and a video slips off-screen, it automatically stops playing to avoid slowing down your device or wasting data…Though the videos play silently in-line, you can tell they have sound by a little audio levels indicator in the bottom right corner.”
Edited by Alisen Downey