Although auto-play video ads are still missing from News Feed, it hasn’t stopped the social network from testing the same functionality with video content shared by members. After experimenting with auto-play videos in September, Facebook has confirmed that the feature will be available to all of its iOS and Android users soon.
Previously, videos uploaded to the platform directly or shared from Instagram were locked behind a play button. Over the past couple of months, however, many Facebook members have noticed that videos began playing automatically, without sound, rather than being displayed with a play button.
On mobile, this gives native Facebook videos and Instagram shares an advantage over YouTube videos, for example. Instead of making a conscious decision to press play, these videos now play themselves. At first they play in-line without sound, but tapping on them expands the video full-screen and turns on the audio.
This functionality appears to be deliberate. One of the reasons for the auto-play video ads display was the concern around user experience. Additionally, Facebook has added a setting that lets members only auto-play videos when on a Wi-Fi connection as to not burn up cellular data.
The company has confirmed that the new format is now internationally rolled out to most iOS and Android devices and will reach all of them soon. Individuals interested in seeing auto-play videos on desktop will have to wait a little while longer — Facebook told TechCrunch that support is still undergoing testing.
Although this doesn’t have an immediate or direct impact on marketers, it does paint a picture of what future advertising could look like on Facebook. Currently the company offers developers the option of putting videos in their app install ads, but those don’t auto-play. But as long as the social network continues testing the functionality, it’s possible that these ads could one day do so.
For now, Facebook continues to slowly introduce the concept to its user base through its mobile apps. At this time, videos will start playing from personal Facebook accounts or verified Pages, as well as Pages of musicians and bands. They might not be called ads, but you can certainly get creative with the videos you share and make them work to your advantage.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.