Facebook is one of the most popular websites in internet history. Hundreds of millions visit the site daily, and spend hours browsing. The social network has grown far larger than the previous kingpin in the field, Myspace, and has lasted longer on top. Internet users are a fickle bunch though, and today’s phenomenon can easily become tomorrow’s afterthought. Now, Facebook is planning to implement a feature that could bring just such a fate to the company.
The latest rumor is that Facebook plans to implement 15 second video ads into user’s feeds. While more ads are almost always frowned upon by users, video ads could end up being a deal breaker. Most people now browse Facebook through their phone. Many of these consumers are doing so through wireless broadband provided by their cell phone carrier. Wireless broadband typically has small bandwidth limits that are quickly eaten by by video.
The rumored plan calls for 15 second videos that would play automatically. According to Bloomberg, the 15 second ads would cost companies between $1 and $2.5 million per day. Users would not see a certain ad more than three times in a day. Apparently, Facebook has pushed back the launch of this new program because they too are worried it will degrade the user experience.
The idea is completely understandable from a business perspective. Video ads are the future of internet advertising. Now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, they face the constant task of increasing revenue and profits. Their last report showed very promising growth in mobile revenue, which most experts agree is critical towards the company’s future. Placing video ads is the next logical step.
One need only to look to the downfall of Myspace to see why this may be a bad idea. One of the reasons Facebook was able to topple Myspace is because it had a much cleaner, simpler look. The Myspace homepage was always dominated by flashy, invasive advertisements. User profiles were contorted by poorly sized images and auto playing audio that lagged page loading time. It was a mess, and switching to Facebook was like moving into a nicer neighborhood.
Implementing video ads is a risky move at this point in the game. The social networking market has exploded in the past few years. Users, particularly young users, are branching out into many different networks. Google+ remains a significant threat, especially if Google Glass takes off once it is launched. Facebook could drive their users right into their competitor’s hands.