Do you hate Facebook video auto-play? I can’t decide if I do. Of course there’s the argument that it’s invasive, annoying, and unstoppable. I can commiserate, Dad. The forward-thinking, tech-oriented, idiephile is mumbling “Why are you still on Facebook? It’s 2015,” as she takes a drag from her American Spirit. But the reality is that Facebook has over 890 million daily users. That’s a huge social network. Rather, that’s a huge social marketplace.
Despite what your timeline might suggest, the video auto-play feature was not created to bolster views for memers and 103.2 “The Zip” reposts. It was created — as were the modifications that came before it — to increase advertising revenue. And with good cause: more than 93% of the company’s $3.85 billion in yearly revenue comes from advertising.
In December 2013, the video auto-play feature extended to individuals, celebrity pages, and Summit Entertainment’s Divergent promotional content. Just the one advertiser. Now it’s all up for grabs. And here’s the thing: it works. You think you hate it, but it does what it’s designed to do. I took a bathroom break while writing this article. During that time I found myself watching a Taco Bell add about chalupas with the sound off. Our brains can’t even stay on-task, mid-task! In just 7 months (June 2014 to January 2015) Facebook tripled its daily video views from 1 billion to 3 billion. Reach isn’t necessarily the same thing as engagement when it comes to advertising, but with that kind of growth, it might not matter.
The point is, you can hate video auto-play or any other modification Facebook makes to its format. It’s annoying, it’s ugly, it’s clunky. Whatever. Pretty soon you’ll forget it ever happened and resume mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. Unless they change that too. Either way, it’s what you’re programmed to do. Meanwhile, Facebook will probably continue to exceed Wall Street’s expectations as it has done for the better part of three years.
The platform’s still free after all.