Facebook is testing the waters for auto-playing promoted videos. Advertiser videos will automatically pre-load via WiFi and play even without interaction, but will only output sound when clicked.

Facebook mobile

Facebook is trying to increase engagement with embedded multimedia content, particularly promoted videos, which is expected to be a big revenue driver for the social network. With this update, videos will automatically play on a user’s News Feed, although audio will only be heard once the user interacts with the video with a tap or click.

In announcing the new feature being tested, Facebook says that likes, comments and views have increased by 10 percent after implementing auto-play. According to the FAQ that Facebook has posted, videos that will automatically play include those embedded by friends as their own updates, videos from certain brand pages, and new promotional material for the film Divergent, distributed by Summit Entertainment.

Facebook video playback

Facebook is addressing the concern over unwanted video playback by saying a user can simply scroll pas the video. “If you don’t want to watch the video, you can simply scroll or swipe past it,” said Facebook on the Facebook Newsroom post announcing this update, adding that videos will only pre-load on WiFi, so that a user’s mobile data plan does not get unnecessarily burdened.

Facebook says the auto-play feature on the web and mobile News Feed is being tested on an initial batch of users starting this week. A wider roll-out might be expected once Facebook concludes its testing process.

The social network’s plans to automatically playback videos has been met with some criticism. In fact, this October, Facebook actually held back on implementing the auto-play functionality over concerns with user experience. Promotional content in videos is expected to fetch at least $1 billion in revenue annually for Facebook, however, and this particular feature had originally been planned to be launched as early as the first half of 2013.

Sources cited by Wall Street Journal say this type of advertising is likely to cost advertisers at least $1 to $2 million for a day-long run of a 15-second spot. Facebook is reportedly starting to sell video ad space through its partner network and vendors. The social network is reportedly trying to tap into revenues meant for the broadcasting industry — particularly TV and other broadcast media — capitalizing on its ability to target users by interest and demographic. However, marketers will likely want to look into user feedback before committing to spending for auto-play ads.

Source: Facebook Newsroom