Why Facebook Auto-Play Video Ads Are a Bad Idea

Autoplay video ads on may be a good way for Facebook to generate revenue. Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to drive users crazy.

With the recent changes, it’s become clear that Facebook is trying to balance the need to be both profitable and not alienate its user base. Implementing autoplay video ads in the newsfeed may be a good way to generate revenue. Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to drive users crazy.

According to Tuesday’s announcement, the new autoplay videos are part of a continuing effort to make videos more engaging and improve the quality of videos on the network. Fortunately, even if the videos play automatically, the sound won’t play unless the ad is clicked.

For mobile users, Facebook says the videos will download automatically when connected to wifi so it doesn’t use any mobile data. This belies the general problem with autoplay video ads. Video is data intensive format and autoplay ads slow down page load times. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned a site that loads videos with sound already on is a site I won’t visit again. At least Facebook was smart enough to avoid that mistake.

Fine, the studies say video is an engaging format and there’s no disagreement here. The problem is that as social networks implement tools to monetize their user base, they also enable more intrusive marketing tactics. It’s not enough for videos to just show up in the user’s newsfeed, it has to play automatically.

At least for now, Facebook says this is a test run. “We will let you know if/when you’ll begin seeing more video content begin to play as it comes into view.”

That’s great. But how about giving users the option to play the video if they want to. And if the video must play automatically, it would be nice if we had the opportunity to customize which ads we see, similar to the functionality on Instagram sponsored posts. This would make the Facebook ads both, less intrusive and more targeted. Ultimately, allowing users to tune their advertising options would make Facebook video ads more effective and make for a better user experience overall.

Image credit:  mkhmarketing