Facebook to build auto-starting video ads into news feed

Facebook’s alleged new strategy to maximise advertising revenues may have the biggest impact on the user experience yet, with automatically starting video adverts expected to be introduced on the news feed.

Sources familiar with the matter informed the FT that the ads will start appearing from July, as the social network looks to further cash in on the platform it provides for heavily targeted advertising.

The videos will last up to 15 seconds - the first a user sees each day starting without prompt but not including sound - while switching on audio restarts the advert. The move has reportedly been inspired by YouTube’s ad system where commercials automatically appear before the video the user has selected.

With Facebook refusing to comment on the reports, further details on how the strategy could manifest itself remain unclear, but one suggestion is that users will only see adverts from one single advertiser each day. It is also thought that the videos will be brought in slowly so as not to deter users.

The news comes a month after Facebook announced its new advertising program dubbed ‘partner categories,’ allowing ad companies to target users based on their purchase history and not merely their personal preferences indicated on the site.

"To date, advertisers have been able to show ads to people based on their expressed interests on Facebook,” said the social network. "Now with partner categories, they can also show ads to people on Facebook based on the products and brands they buy across both desktop and mobile."

Harnessing ad revenues through mobile has also formed a vital part of Facebook’s fiscal strategy, and the company’s financial report for the first quarter signalled growing success in this area. Of the total advertising revenue which hit $1.25 billion, 30 per cent came from mobile advertising - up from 23 per cent in the last quarter.