Facebook is putting autoplay video ads inside Messenger

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The initiative may provide a privacy issue for users

Starting next Monday, Facebook users will begin seeing video ads in their private conversations in Messenger. The autoplay ads will appear in users’ inboxes alongside their chats with family members and friends.

The social media giant has reportedly been running out of places to put advertisements, and Messenger was the next available spot.

The move may prove successful for Facebook, as a recent survey by Statista found that Messenger is the third most popular social media site by monthly users. Additionally, in the early tests of these ads, the company has found that users aren’t using Messenger any differently with the new ads.

What it means for consumers

Perhaps the biggest concern for Facebook users is the privacy factor.

These ads are designed to automatically start playing right alongside private messages, which may feel intrusive to users. Stefanos Loukakos runs Messenger’s ad business, and he is confident the company will monitor user reaction and response to the new ads.

“Top priority for us is customer experience,” Loukakos said. “So we don’t know yet [if these will work]. However, signs until now, when we tested basic ads, didn’t show any changes with how people used the platform or how many messages they send. Video might be a bit different, but we don’t believe so.”

Second try with Messenger ads

While this is the first time video ads will play in Messenger, Facebook did roll out static ads in the app at the start of 2017. Ad space had become limited on the platform, similar to the way it has now, and the company needed more retail space.

However, that time around, only users in Thailand and Australia were seeing these ads. They appeared in the Messenger app, and users could swipe between five different advertisers. Additionally, users had to scroll past their own conversations to get to the ads -- making it slightly less intrusive.

Later in 2017, Facebook began rolling out ads across users News Feeds’ in creative new places. The company began putting ads in Instagram stories, it tested ads in the Marketplace, and started selling mid-roll video ads in the hopes that one of these new formats would be fruitful for the company and solve the problem of very limited ad space.

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