Almost all of Facebook’s 1.35 billion Monthly Active Users will have experienced the auto play feature recently.
With Facebook making auto play available over every ad format, it appears that the feature isn’t going away any time soon. Both the desktop and mobile app now play videos (muted until otherwise selected) when they appear on the screen. This means viral videos like 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge, as well as the increased integration of Vine and Instagram videos being shared to Facebook News Feeds, will only increase the number of occasions when a video could potentially start playing automatically.
Facebook video is beginning to give YouTube a real run for its money. This is evidenced by the recent claim by Ron Amram – Heineken USA’s Senior Media Director of Marketing – that “YouTube and Facebook are equal players now, or at least close to it.” The video they posted, re-purposed from a television advert featuring Neil Patrick Harris, hit 5.5 million views in just three days. This was 16% of the 35 million users whose Facebook feed the video appeared on.
This news is a strong factor in the increase in promoted brand videos on Facebook. With the recent John Lewis Christmas ad, featuring Monty the Penguin, more shares were made for the brand’s Facebook video than the same one on YouTube. Be it convenience, or the auto play feature, the platform is gaining on YouTube and marketers are learning this lesson.
With auto play ads spreading to mobile too, there have been reports that this feature is costing Facebook’s 1.12 billion Mobile Monthly Active Users: MoneySavingExpert.com states that increased data is driving phone bills higher as many users scramble to pause the videos before they begin. The videos are partly responsible for them exceeding their data limits, and being stung with larger bills than they expected. The solution is easily Googled; in the app’s settings all auto play can be switched off.
What the inclusion of the auto play videos on their mobile app suggests is that Facebook are taking it very seriously; it’s beginning to deliver results. Brands like Heineken have a significantly higher level of control, instant feedback and are utilising Facebook videos to serve ads to a much more targeted audience than ever before.
Though this early success might not necessarily guarantee that users continue to engage Facebook videos, but for now it is swaying marketers towards Facebook.