Fact Check

Facebook Video Ads

Is Facebook introducing video-based advertisements to their network?

Published Apr 29, 2013

Claim:   Facebook is seeking input on the imminent introduction of video-based advertisements to its network.


TRUE: Facebook is considering introducing video ads to its network.
FALSE: Facebook is seeking user input about its plans to roll out video ads.

Examples:   [Collected via Facebook, April 2013]

I recently came across this little picture on a couple of my wall posts. I have not heard of nor read any articles containing the information listed in this picture.

The picture shows a generic picture of Mark Zuckerburg, with a paragraph detailing adding video ads to Facebook that vary in length.

After stating it is seeking input, and asking for others to share the picture, the caption at the bottom reads, "Facebook 2014".


Origins:   In December 2012, advertising news outlets such as Ad Age began reporting that Facebook would be unveiling video-based advertising in news feeds across that social media site in the first half of 2013. Although the details remained yet to be confirmed, news accounts indicated those ads would be set to auto-play to users, with their length capped at 15 seconds (but whether the audio would be automatically enabled had yet to be decided):

Facebook is set to unveil a new video-ad product in the first half of [2013] in its largest attempt to date to attract big swaths of ad dollars from TV advertisers, according to several industry executives who have been briefed on the company's plans over the past few weeks.

Facebook is still debating several product features, but has decided on this much to date, these executives said: By April at the latest, it will offer video advertisers the chance to target video ads to large numbers of Facebook users in their news feeds on both the desktop version of Facebook as well as on Facebook apps on mobile phones and tablets.

Facebook is leaning toward capping the length of these video ads at 15 seconds — a move that could push ad agencies normally reluctant to cut down their 30-second

commercials to do so. That decision could also mean that 15-second video ads would become more prevalent elsewhere on the web.

In what's sure to be a controversial move, the visual component of the Facebook video ads will start playing automatically — a dynamic known as "autoplay" — according to two of the executives. Facebook is still debating whether to have the audio component of the ads activated automatically as well, one of these people said.

On the desktop version of Facebook, the video ads are expected to grab a user's attention by expanding out of the news feed into webpage real estate in both the left and right columns — or rails — of the screen. Facebook is also working on a way to ensure that the video ads stand out on the mobile apps as well, though it is unclear how exactly the company will accomplish this. (Some details about the video-ad plans remain vague and could change as Facebook gets more feedback from clients.)

In a mid-April 2013 follow-up, Ad Age reported that Facebook was looking to unveil the video ads in June or July 2013, but some of the details about how those ads would be presented was still undetermined:

Facebook is hoping that its hotly anticipated video-ad units can be a more-than-$4-million daily business out of the gate — if its asking price is met.

The social network still hasn't finalized the format of the video ads, but it's been shopping the product around to agencies, looking to lock down commitments for the first available slots in June or July, according to three executives briefed on the product.

While the format of the units isn't totally nailed down, it's widely assumed that they'll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users' screens on the desktop version of Facebook. (Facebook has also been at work on a way to make video ads stand out on mobile apps, though it's still unclear how it intends to accomplish this.)

In its own version of an upfront marketplace, Facebook is currently selling four daily summer "slots," each targeting a relatively large demographic: women over 30; women under 30; men over 30; and men over 30. The ads will be capped at 15 seconds and frequency capped to ensure that no user sees more than three per day, with an asking price of upwards of $1 million, according to one executive.

By the end of April 2013, news sources were reporting that Facebook would be rolling out video ads in July 2013, with the ads being limited to 15 seconds in length and set to play automatically (with the sound muted); the videos would restart from the beginning when users clicked them, and each brand would be limited to one video per day in a user’s news feed. This information is contradictory to the text presented in the graphic displayed above: according to Ad Age, Facebook users would see a maximum of three video ads per day (rather than one every ten minutes), and the ads would run no longer than 15 seconds each (rather than varying from 15 to 60 seconds in length).

By the end of July 2013 Facebook video ads still had not been rolled out on a system-wide basis, but news accounts continued to report that 15-second video ads would be coming later in the year:

Facebook Inc., seeking to break the long-held dominance of television over advertising budgets, plans to sell TV-style commercials on its site for as much as $2.5 million a day, two people familiar with the matter said.

The world's largest social-networking site, which has 1.15 billion members, expects to start offering 15-second spots to advertisers later this year, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the plans aren’t public.

Asked about putting video ads in Facebook news feeds on a call with analysts, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t say much.

“So the demand to do more in video on Facebook is there, and we're exploring how we can expand that, but we don't have anything new to announce today,” she said.

In December 2013, news accounts again stated that Facebook would be rolling out video ads in the near future:

Facebook on [Dec. 17] said it soon plans to begin video advertising within members' News Feeds, a move that takes aim at massive spending budgets for television ads.

The social-networking giant says in a "short amount of time" marketers will be able to tap into video ads. Facebook is testing out an ad for the film Divergent with a small number of people this week.

Facebook's video ads will begin running automatically across its News Feed but will remain muted unless people turn on the audio of the ads. The new ad forms will begin on both desktop and mobile.

Facebook has not sought, and is not seeking, user input on whether such ads should be implemented.

Last updated:   17 December 2013


    Del Rey, Jason.   "Facebook Prepares to Bring Video Ads to News Feed, Aims for TV Dollars."

    Ad Age.   18 December 2012.

    Delo, Cotton.   "Facebook Seeks 7-Figure Price Tag for Summer Debut of Video Ads."

    Ad Age.   16 April 2013.

    Lee, Edmund.   "Facebook Said to Plan to Sell TV-Style Ads for $2.5M Each."

    Bloomberg.   31 July 2013.

    Martin, Scott.   "Facebook Plans to Roll Out Video Advertising."

    USA Today.   17 December 2013.

    Pressman, Aaron.   "Facebook Is Ruining Facebook — Again: Here Come Video Ads."

    Daily Ticker.   5 August 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.