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Video Ads, Mobile and Facebook: A Winning Combo?

Facebook announced that it has begun a formal test of auto-play video ads in News Feed on all devices. This is following the testing of non-commercial video in the News Feed that began in September. For the moment, let’s ignore the thought that users may hate this (Facebook users aren’t known to be big fans of change) and talk about what this means for marketers and digital marketing in general.

For years we have been asking if we have finally reached “the year of mobile” – But has Facebook finally put all the pieces together to make it happen? Mobile is interesting. Video is interesting. Facebook goes and puts it together. “Two great tastes that taste great together.”

Facebook has finally made mobile successful by leveraging native ads for relevant, highly contextualized messages in a user’s news feed. The ability to add video in that environment is biggest opportunity in the digital space. But why is Facebook blazing the path here? Facebook has something that gives them a unique advantage for mobile video: A captive and highly engaged audience.

Why do we sit through ads on television (before DVR)? Why do we wait the 13 seconds of promotion before seeing a dog riding a skateboard push a kid into a pool? Because it is content we want to see. We can avert our eyes, but do we?

Facebook knows 48% of daily users are now mobile-only and 23 percent of all time spent on apps in the U.S. is on Facebook. In fact, mobile is expected to be ~$6B of Facebook’s ~$10B in 2014. These users are people invested in seeing what is going on in their newsfeed – whether that is while waiting in line, or commuting, or during down time (a third of Americans use Facebook in the bathroom). They may complain initially about new video ads, but it will not be much of a blocker.

This, of course is if they can continue to keep the advertising socially relevant and contextual.
For marketers this opportunity opens the door to mobile video advertising in a real way. You can expect Facebook to scale this up, tweak it and perfect it quickly. While there will be some growing pains, Facebook is grabbing this opportunity and marketers should think seriously about doing the same.

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