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Why Facebook's Video Autoplay Is Great News for Marketers

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If you're a Facebook user, you may have noticed that the videos in your News Feed have been coming to life on their own, thanks to Facebook's new autoplay feature.

Late last year, Facebook began testing its autoplay feature on users of Facebook's iOS and Android apps. Videos uploaded from personal Facebook accounts, verified Pages, and musicians' and bands' Pages automatically play (albeit without sound) as users scroll through the feed. If mobile users want audio, they simply click on the video; if they keep scrolling through the feed, the video stops playing. A wider launch of the autoplay feature is "imminent," according to CIO.

Facebook's video autoplay feature is great news for brands because it provides a relatively non-intrusive way to get customers' attention in the social environment. Because Facebook's autoplay videos don't interfere with users' Facebook experience, they're likely to be viewed as a positive feature.

The silent mode for autoplay was a smart idea on Facebook's part, even though marketers would probably prefer more noise. Due to bad experiences on YouTube and other websites featuring autoplay videos, visitors are conditioned to despise autoplay—and they may abandon videos or content they're waiting for rather than sit through 30 seconds of a video ad they have zero interest in watching. (Don't you grit your teeth when you load a webpage and an unwanted video takes over your screen, with the accompanying blast of sound from your speakers?)

The user-friendly autoplay may get more engagement from people who are not fans of pre-roll ad videos because they decide whether they want to watch.


Another nice touch: After users watch an autoplay video ad, they'll see options to view additional videos from the same merchant, allowing them to dig deeper into the content.

Because Facebook is creating a new model for video ads, merchants may need to rethink how they develop their videos. You may need to create some videos from scratch to take advantage of the benefits of Facebook autoplay. Because videos are muted when Facebook users scroll, your visuals need to grab attention and compel viewers to click on the video and get the sound. Watch your existing videos with the sound off, and ask yourself if they tell a compelling story even when silent. If they don't, do some video reworking.

Another option is to build text into autoplay videos, which can help hammer home messages supporting the visuals. Ideally, you want to grab viewers' attention as they scroll down their Facebook home pages and see the silent video. One way to do this is to include a special offer banner in the video, such as 10% discount, and if you say that it's a Facebook exclusive, you may do a better job of luring viewers to click on the video and watch with sound. Or you can add a banner that answers a burning question your buyers are likely to have.

* * *

There is tremendous potential value in attracting video views from the Facebook audience. In Facebook's own marketing materials, the social network claims it can reach more people 18-24 years old than prime time TV can, giving it powerful influence with this highly desirable group.

With 1.23 billion monthly active users, Facebook offers a massive audience across all demographics—one inclined to share content with friends, giving videos even more eyeballs. Those are all great reasons for seeking out videos that work well with the Facebook autoplay approach.


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Dr. Melody King is vice-president of sales and marketing at Treepodia, a video e-commerce platform. She can be reached at melodyk@treepodia.com.

LinkedIn: Melody King

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Comments

  • by McKee Smith Mon Feb 24, 2014 via web

    Silent auto-play is a great compromise. The moving pictures will grab the viewers eye, but without the irritation of sound coming on. Few things are more irritating for a B2B customer who is working in a cube farm than having an add pop on, loud enough to disturb their neighbors, and then struggle to turn it off. Having been on the receiving end of those, I'd NEVER recommend that to a client!

  • by Si Gornick Tue May 27, 2014 via web

    Silent auto-play is a clever move and it's particularly good for certain types of video that are not sound reliant. In other words viewers are still getting a ton of engaging information from a muted video. That's where animated text comes into play.

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