Why Auto-Play Ads Will Make Facebook the Next Social Media Ghost Town

by · October 2, 201310 comments

Remember the boom and ultimate demise of MySpace? The younger generation may not even know that Facebook had a predecessor, one that millions of people visited and updated regularly. However, it looks like Facebook will go a similar route as they begin to allow auto-play advertising on the site.

According to information from advertising executives, Facebook plans to insert auto-play video ads in the News Feed. These ads seem like a great idea for the advertisers, since it means that their audience doesn’t have a choice in watching the video. Users who are actively visiting the site could see multiple ads over a range of topics, and advertisers could cater the ads to things that the users have “liked” on Facebook.

Pitfalls of this Type of Advertising

facebook ads

Image via Flickr by Sean MacEntee

However, many users and some media experts believe that this type of advertising is intrusive and bothersome. Facebook has received constant backlash for its continuous addition of advertising to the site, and this is sure to bring more. Advertisers agree that if users are unhappy with the style of ads, it doesn’t send a good message for their product or brand image. These types of video ads could actually hinder the user experience by making pages slower to load and harder to scroll around, especially on older computers and on mobile devices, making Facebook much less fun to use and much more of a pain.

Some early studies show that some teenage Facebook users are already shutting down their profiles on the social media site, partially due to increases in advertising.

Numbers and Results

The biggest problem of MySpace was its focus on the financial aspects, instead of how the experience would be for its users. It became so overloaded with ads that many of its users switched to Facebook, which had much less clutter and offered a more positive experience.

According to a pre-launch study, sources say that these video ads could increase Facebook’s daily revenue by $1.5 million. However, if the auto-play videos frustrate users, they may abandon their profiles on the site completely.

Some Positive Factors

Facebook does have a few positive facts floating around the internet:  their videos will be shorter than other auto-play ads, and they will start with no sound. If a user is interested in the product and chooses to activate the audio, it will then start over at the beginning. This is less irritating to most users, since other video ads are often blaringly loud and very bothersome.

Demise of Facebook

Approximately 1 in 7 people across the world is a registered Facebook user. Amidst massive privacy issues, lawsuits, and other battles, the site has continued to grow. Unlike services such as Apple TV which allow users freedom, Facebook’s decision to insert auto-play ads restricts user control. Many people have elected to stop using the site because of increased advertising, and these auto-play video ads will push those numbers even higher due to frustration with the content. An average Facebook user spends 6.5 hours per month on Facebook, much of which is from a wireless internet connection. Research shows that this user could see as many as 400 commercials during that time.

Facebook must use caution in continuing to increase its advertising, or it will veer down the same path as MySpace, and the ads will essentially be worthless.

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About Teddy Hunt

Teddy Hunt

Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends the majority of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Florida.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://complaintreviews.com/ Keith Brown

    Are the Facebook vs. Myspace comparisons really valid? The adoption between the two is hardly an apples to apples comparison. I agree Facebook will slowly kill it’s user base with ads, but it will take much longer than Myspace to slip into obscurity. But let’s be honest when we talk about how deeply Facebook is entrenched in our lives, our parents lives, our grandparents lives, and the vast majority of websites on the internet with “like buttons”.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      I don’t know. I think Myspace’s demise was because there was a better alternative that was easily accessible. Facebook’s suggested demise could be slower, but is it because they are intrinsically different or because we haven’t been graced with a better alternative?

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  • Jake Parent

    Great insight.

    Facebook is totally the new Myspace.

    Also, I don’t think Facebook as entrenched in our lives as many feel. I’ve taken months long breaks from Facebook and not suffered at all. In fact, I ended up feeling more connected to the world.

    The Internet CAN be a great tool for creating communities, but it is often just as powerful in the way it keeps people from really connecting. Facebook is one of the worst examples of the latter. For every person using it to gain information, there are a thousand who are mostly just interested in emotionally vomiting on anyone reading their news feed.

    That’s certainly no way to build genuine bonds of human connection.

    -Jake

  • Dave Link

    I think it’s a bit early to claim the demise of Facebook. That line was touted as soon as ads were introduced the first time and with the advent of G+ and the rise of Pinterest – none of which held true. However, I wholeheartedly agree that auto-play ads will likely lead to a terrible user experience; especially if it halts an ability to scroll past the ad while it’s playing. Going with no audio is also a smart move.

    Users are loyal so long as they at least have the feeling that they’re valued on the platform, but as soon as it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the dollar is trumping the user a small trickle of exits can easily turn into a mad dash for the door. Am I willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater just yet? No. But this is one advertising move that FB has to make VERY carefully if they want to keep users on site.

  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    I’ve also heard about Facebook’s plans to implement auto video ads, and I must agree with you, sounds like a bad idea. It’s too intrusive and we already have too many ads displayed in our News Feed. However, I think it’s too soon to predict that Facebook will go down as easily ;) Maybe the number of users will decrease due to the worse user experience, but it doesn’t mean that people will suddenly stop using Facebook.

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  • Amy

    Facebook and Myspace cannot be compared, other than saying they were both popular mediums for interaction online. Myspace and Facebook targeted different ages and had opposite (for lack of a better word) “vibes” to them; with the music and customizable interfaces available on Myspace. Facebook has 1.1 billion users, something Myspace did not even come close to. Facebook is here to stay, as the site has a diverse user base in terms of age, ethnic makeup and socioeconomic background. What will change with these video ads is the number of millenials that use Facebook. Growing up in an age where they “need it now,” this age group will not tolerate ads spamming their social network. They will find another venue that can deliver what they want immediately. When this happens, Facebook can continue to collect form advertisers. However, it will not be the target audiece that many seek out using this platform today.

  • michael bian

    Good article. Thanks for sharing it. Insightful.

  • http://www.seriouslyspain.com/ Seriously Spain

    I stopped using them months ago. Hate their constant advertising and hate their prying into my life. I hope they die a quick and agonizing death. Really :)