The update is relatively small (and most users probably won't even notice), but it's yet another way for Facebook to push video content - and also use its unknown troves of user data to keep people on the platform. But Facebook also has plans to let people submit shows or videos as they do on Alphabet Inc's YouTube.
Watch is Facebook's separate area just for video. Previously, videos as short as 90 seconds were eligible for ad breaks. The Facebook video ads aren't a total surprise, however, as the company has been telling advertisers and big brands for months that they are coming. They will also see new episodes of a show if they watched an earlier episode. That's different from YouTube, where pre-rolls can in theory be many minutes long, but users often have a chance to skip those ads.
For the user, pre-roll ads will surely be annoying, but if someone purposefully goes to the Watch tab to view a specific video series, having to endure an ad feels pretty standard.
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At the same time, the company said in a blog post that it would update its News Feed algorithm to prioritize videos from Pages that have strong repeat viewership, and roll out the addition of an Ad Break insights tab that will offer creators two new video metrics: Ad Break impressions and Ad Break CPMs. The publishers get paid by Facebook on monthly basis upon touching the target numbers.
The big loser here, though, are the publishers who took Facebook's Live and on-demand News Feed video subsidies, built up big teams of staffers to produce the expensive content, and are now being shooed towards other monetization options that might not be mature enough to pay the bills.
That means you won't see these ads in your news feed. However, the company does intend to bring more videos into your News Feed, mainly as a way to promote its Watch platform. And that's why when Facebook dangles its next gift of virality, publishers should stay skeptical and focused on their long-term strategy rather than jumping through the new hoop.