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Facebook introduces auto-playing video adverts

Graeme Parton

Social media giant Facebook has started to roll out its new video advertising content, with a new series of  clips promoting the upcoming movie Divergent.

The advertisements play on users’ news feeds automatically, but the clip must be clicked to enable the sound.

On smartphones and tablets, the content will have to be downloaded over a Wi-Fi connection before the user is able to play it.

Some critics are saying the feature could alienate certain users. One analyst from research specialists IDC, Alys Woodward, said:

“It sounds as if they are doing it in a reasonably sensitive way but if they get this stuff wrong people may stop being active and posting new content.

“The question is do they have rich enough analytics to target ads correctly? It isn’t just about an ad for a film. I care about being sent the correct movie so try and sell me the right thing.”

Rumours of promotional videos have surrounded Facebook for a number of months now. In September, it began trialling the different ways of introducing self-playing clips, similar to those which are offered by Twitter-owned platform Vine. It has, however, claimed that the move into advertising is currently just in the limited testing phase.

The company said:

“This format isn’t intended for every video ad or page post video on Facebook. We’ll continue to refine this new way for brands to tell stories on Facebook to ensure the best experience for people and marketers.”

There’s little doubt that Facebook can be used as an effective marketing tool by brands of all types and sizes. It is, however, important to recognise that bombarding consumers with pushy sales messages – in videos or otherwise – is unlikely to be a successful strategy. Social platforms work because they allow businesses to engage with the members of their target audiences – this is best achieved with quality content.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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