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Facebook To Introduce Television-Style Advertisements, Likely To Auto-Play

Television ads are becoming increasingly unwelcome on television, with viewers becoming increasingly used to services like DVR and Netflix. Unfortunately, the often unreasonably loud advertisements are spreading from TV networks to social media. According to Bloomberg, Facebook’s far reach and large user numbers during key times of day have led the company to decide to sell advertising spots for television ads. Worse yet, these ads will likely utilize the worst feature internet videos have to offer: Auto-play.

Facebook is ever-changing, and users are rarely pleased with the results of each change, so the news that the social media site is adding one of the most annoying types of advertisements to news feeds everywhere is, undoubtedly, unpleasant. Unfortunately for users, the free service makes money from advertising and happens to have better prime time demographics than some major television networks. 88 million to 100 million individuals generally use Facebook during prime time television hours, between 8 and 11 pm, and many people sit on Facebook for prolonged periods of time. People ages 18 to 24 are especially coveted due to being more active on Facebook during prime time. These numbers will allow Facebook to sell advertising spots for a solid $2.5 million a day, making the decision rather easy for them, though it should be noted there’s been no official announcement from the site on the subject.

It appears that the ads, as we heard back in February, will last for 15 seconds, just long enough to alert everyone in the vicinity that you are using Facebook. And they’ll show up on the newsfeed, not along the side, where ads currently reside. Mark Zuckerberg has previously stated that there will be one ad for every 20 or so status updates. The same ad will play for an individual no more than 3 times a day, which will, thankfully, save Facebook users from hearing the same slogan auto-playing on repeat for several hours. On the other hand, three times in one day could be more than enough to drive you crazy, depending on the commercial. The advertisements will also have “easy-to-use playback features” if Zuckerburg gets his way, according to Bloomberg.

Unusually, the Facebook TV advertisements will only use gender and age to target ads, not interests or area. This means that, while that DVD you’ve been eyeing will still disconcertingly follow you around the rest of the internet, Facebook’s television ads will provide a breath of fresh air in the form of a generalization of what, say, females between the ages of 18 and 24 like. Just like real TV! According to Bloomberg, this gender and age only-model will better accommodate television advertisers unaccustomed to the added specificity of internet advertising.

When asked about Facebook advertising, Mark Zuckerburg stressed that,

“One of the things I watch most closely is the quality of our ads and people’s sentiment around them. We haven’t measured a meaningful drop in satisfaction.”

In February, meanwhile, Facebook VP of Business David Fischer also expressed confidence in new, video advertising, saying,

“I believe there are ways we could do it. There are ways that could be destructive and distracting to the user experience. But there are ways that could potentially balance user experience with advertiser experience.”

Of course, Zuckerburg and Fischer may be right. The percentage of Facebook users who use the website on a daily basis continues to grow, and was most recently measured at 61%. This rise in popularity continues to contradict predictions that users will react poorly to or even delete their accounts because of certain changes on the site. Facebook is also working to stay relevant. The company recently added hashtags to the website, and the layout of news feeds and walls continue to change. Still, not all changes are good changes, and Facebook’s incentive to introduce TV-style commercials shows that the website is ready to further disrupt its user experience in favor of appealing to advertisers.

(via Daily Dot, Bloomberg, Ad Age)

Previously in Facebook

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t mind ads. Giant unskippable ads that basically hold my browser hostage so I can’t do anything until it’s over, however? That just makes sure I never buy whatever shitty product they’re shilling.

  • Adam Cross

    thankfully things like Ad-Block exist <3

  • Guest

    Adblock, don’t fail me now!

  • Aaron Victor Steimle

    Annoying as ads are, they’d be better executed for both the audience and the experience if any and all ads would be limited to Vine’s 6-second presentation time.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Welp, tab junkies like me aren’t gonna have a good time playing “find the noise.”

    Y’know, if you let your flash player go out of date, they don’t play automatically anymore. Makes everything else a pain though, but that was nice for awhile.

  • Sarah Brockman

    Facebook has been getting more and more annoying over the years, but I’ve put up with it as a way to stay in touch with people. However, if this is implemented as auto-play, it might be the thing that gets me to tell people to just call me if they need to talk to me.

    Don’t get me wrong – I know the service is free, thus they get to do what they want and they’re just mining me for data. But the only time I usually want to see advertisements is when they’re trailers or posted here, so this is a major turn-off for me.

  • TKS

    “It appears that the ads, as we heard back in February, will last for 15 seconds, just long enough to alert everyone in the vicinity that you are using Facebook.” As a teacher, I see the educational value in this.

  • Anonymous

    “One of the things I watch most closely is the quality of our ads and
    people’s sentiment around them. We haven’t measured a meaningful drop in

    I think you might be underestimating the prevalence of adblock, Mark. >_>

  • Mark Brown

    This is just one of the reasons I hate working with Hipsters.

  • Brittany K

    “Mark Zuckerberg has previously stated that there will be one ad for every 20 or so status updates.” Hmm, maybe this will make my mom spend less time on facebook, therefore saving me from endless cat pictures and memes I saw on tumblr three months ago. I myself usually only scroll through about ten or so statuses when I go on facebook, and then I get fed up with the morons I went to high school with and close the tab.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    Having worked in customer experience, satisfaction surveys aren’t meaningful at all. Asking someone if they’re satisfied isn’t as reliable as watching how they actually behave.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    Remember that rumor chain-mail panic a few years back that “OMG, Facebook is going to start charging!!! This is an outrage! We have to let them know we’ll never pay!”

    Hmm, maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

  • Caitlin

    Auto-play ads are why my computer is on mute all the time (other than if I’m on youtube). I imagine this will push other people to the same solution. Video is not as annoying as sound.

  • Anonymous

    It won’t fail you. AdBlock is pretty dang good about filtering autoplay ads, even when they are in the middle of actual videos you watch. Combine with maybe Flashblock and/or NoScript, and all will be well. No autoplay at all, unless you say “yeah, ok, play this”.

    I’m somewhat bewildered why FireFox isn’t the ubiquitous browser yet. Making it so it filters 99.99% of all ads is far eawsier than with any other browser. Why IE still has over 50% marketshare confuses me. Do people WANT their webpages to blurt out loud and intrusive ads and consequently take ten times longer to load?

    I get how ads help finanicing websites. But as long as you require them to be animated and loud, people will loathe them. I go to some webpage to READ stuff, and you think garish animations and sound are appropriate for your ads? It’d be like reading a newspaper, and you turn the page and there’s a lot of sound and animations…

  • Anonymous

    FireFox. AdBlock. NoScript. Flashblock. No need to keep the computer at mute. If you want something to play, you click it. Else, it is quiet. As is, muting your computer still makes the ads load, taking up a fair ammount of bandwith.

  • Caitlin

    Does AdBlock affect the ad revenue for the sites you visit? I don’t want to hurt their income stream.