According to AdAge, rumors are that Facebook is set to introduce video ads within the first half of 2013 in an attempt to attract more advertisers to spend money on the social platform. Facebook has reportedly briefed executives at various companies about their plans, which would allow advertisers to target video ads to users’ news feeds. Although not all of the details are clear yet, this addition could change the Facebook user experience in profound ways.
User backlash occurs whenever Facebook alters appearance or features. We’ve seen this in the past with timeline layout changes, altered privacy settings, and sponsored stories. Video ads would be more intrusive than text ads, especially since Facebook is strongly considering making the ads auto-play on the news feed. Facebook may also allow ads to be shown from pages that the user doesn’t already “like,” which will be another point of contention for critics.
The news feed is somewhat of a sacred space for the general Facebook audience. Ads can appear on the sidebars, but most users feel that the news feed should be an ad-free space. Promoted stories can currently appear on the news feed, but I expect a larger backlash from the general Facebook user base when video ads are eventually introduced. On the other hand, well-made video ads have the chance to go viral; I expect the ads will have the like and share buttons connected to them, so video ads that disguise themselves as funny or engaging videos will perform well. With all the new places that ads are being placed on Facebook, one has to wonder where the breaking point is. Soon, the core features of Facebook will become crowded out with so many different types of ads that users will no longer tolerate the disruption.