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.
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