As of late last year, Facebook was prepping video ads for their debut in the first
half of 2013, but the launch was pushed back to the summer. Now
it's unofficially been pushed back until mid-October, according to
a source familiar with the product. The given reason is that there
are new features Facebook wants to release concurrently with video
ads, and they require more software development.
But Facebook sales executives are keen to get the long-awaited
product into market and are advocating for the product to be
shipped as is and for new features to be added later, according to
Another source familiar with the video ad product confirmed that
the launch has been pushed back to early fall, at earliest.
In an interview with Ad Age, Facebook's VP-global marketing
solutions Carolyn Everson declined to comment on the video ads or
the intended timing of their debut.
While perfecting the product to ensure that it disrupts users as
little as possible is critical for Facebook, there's some peril
associated with pushing off the launch. First, the pricy ad units
could generate significant revenue if the social network is
successful in selling them, and a delay reduces the amount that
Facebook can make from them this year. (The online video
marketplace is also an increasingly lucrative one; eMarketer projects that advertisers
will spend $4.09 billion on video ads this year and $5.68 billion
The minimum commitment for Facebook's video ad units when they
were being shopped around for a summer launch was $1 million for a
specific demographic swath. Facebook was asking as much as $2.4
million for an ad that would be seen by all U.S.-based Facebook
users, according to a source.
However, it could be that concerns about user experience trump
short-term revenue considerations.
"From a business perspective, Facebook would want to roll out
this type of advertising more quickly, but they have to weigh that
against how their users feel," said Debra Aho Williamson, principal
analyst at eMarketer. "Facebook has to be really careful about not
overweighting the news feed with advertising."
How Will They (Eventually) Work?
Based on how they were being positioned for the summer launch,
video ads will appear to targeted users in their news feeds up to
three times on the day they're slotted and will begin silently
playing when a user scrolls over them, according to source who
heard Facebook's pitch.
Audio won't be activated unless a user clicks on the 15-second
ad, at which point it will restart and spread over the right- and
left-hand rails of the page. Users can then scroll horizontally in
the expanded interface and play up to two additional videos, which
could be useful for storytelling for some advertisers.
While Facebook is looking to sell the inventory in demographic
swaths, it's also planning to incorporate Nielsen metrics to
provide an estimate of the reach in gross ratings points in order
to entice TV buyers. The counting will include ads that haven't had
audio activated, the source said.