Whether you are on online marketer, a web-savvy business owner, or just someone who spends a lot of time on Youtube, Vimeo, or Vine, you are probably aware that video is the hottest form of content on the Internet. It is so hot, in fact, that YouTube is now considered the second-largest search engine after Google (who, by the way, owns YouTube). So it should be no surprise that Facebook would want to leverage the power of video to keep the eyes of Facebook users on its site — and its ads.
Since September of 2013, Facebook has been testing a new silent autoplay feature where, as the name implies, videos uploaded by individuals and certain advertisers will begin playing automatically without sound in the timeline. To watch the video with sound, the user need only click on the video. After the video has finished playing, a carousel with two additional videos are displayed. In testing, Facebook found that the silent autoplay increased video views by 10 percent. Now Facebook is gradually rolling out the new feature across the entire social media site.
The big question being asked by Facebook users is whether or not timelines will become clogged with streaming video ads. The answer can be found by simply stepping back from our computer screens for a moment, and remembering that other screen we used to spend a lot of time looking at: our televisions. Rather than ponder the merits or faults of the new autoplay feature, it is probably more useful to realize that as computing power and bandwidth increase, and as video proliferates across the Internet, our computer screens will begin to look more and more like our television screens. That includes the advertisements.
Autoplay ads should be considered the very beginning of the videocentric Internet that is on its way. Internet is replacing television, and for marketers the message is clear: Video is a top priority. For the concerned Facebook user, here are a few considerations that should ease your mind to some degree:
- With the Facbook autoplay feature, these videos will be no more prevalent than the static ads that presently appear in the timeline and, if found obtrusive, can be easily scrolled by. At present, you are never required to watch an ad to get to desired content.
- Facebook has disabled the feature for cellular mobile, so those with limited data plans will not incur undue charges. If the device is connected to WiFi, however, autoplay will be enabled.
- Lastly, where television executives of the past had only Nielsen ratings to go by, web marketers have powerful analytics at their disposal. And with millions of websites and videos as potential competition, web marketers and developers have much more incentive to find a sensible balance between user enjoyment and ad proliferation.
However you feel about it, video autoplay is merely another step along the way to the synthesis of video and the Internet. The screen that used to sit in the corner of the living room is slowly moving front and center. Perhaps nothing describes where we are headed better than the title of a popular YouTube vlog channel: “Internet Killed Television.”