I’ve never had any illusions about Facebook; it exists to make money for Mark “Boy Billionaire” Zuckerberg and his shareholders. So it’s no shock to learn that Facebook is planning to sell commercials, or video ads, for as much as $2.5 million a pop and then push them into its users’ news feeds.
The world’s largest social-networking site, with 1.15 billion members, expects to offer 15-second spots to advertisers later this year, according to Bloomberg News.
Facebook hasn’t confirmed or denied the claims. The story seems well sourced, Bloomberg reporters are usually accurate, and the publication tracks what’s happening in media these days. So I tend to believe the report.
If it pans out, Facebook is going to get even more annoying. The site keeps pushing the envelope on user annoyance with its Byzantine user settings, repetitive privacy violations and targeted ads that follow you from one end of the Web to the other.
Users will see the ads as often as three times a day, and they will cost the advertisers $1 million to $2.5 million per day, depending on the size of the audience, according to Bloomberg. Zuckerberg said last week that he’s sensitive to how users react to advertising. He plans to limit the number of ads people see to about one per 20 updates, which means roughly five percent of users’ news feeds will be ads.
We’re talking about a video stream in your face, so it’s going to be an especially annoying five percent. Videos are a lot harder to ignore than other types of ads. I also question Zuckerberg’s commitment to keep ads at this level. Facebook’s stock is finally gaining some real value, and that’s because the last earnings report was boosted by ad revenue from mobile users. If these TV-style ads are successful, there will be enormous pressure on our boy to ramp up frequency.
Funny thing about Facebook: Every time I start to feel good about the site, it gets in my face with something new and intrusive. I have a friend who is seriously ill, and Facebook has been a great source of support for her. If I check in to see how she’s doing and am confronted with a video commercial, it could really detract from that experience.
Facebook can’t exist without advertising; it’s naïve to think otherwise. But pushing TV-style commercials in our face could be a bit much.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.