NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Facebook (FB) is about to launch auto-play video ads. To call this news may be stretching it a bit. The dawn of the video-ad era on the social media site has been heralded many times and frequently delayed.
Those delays are understandable. The prospect of embedded advertising videos that start themselves without a click from the user is both exciting and worrying for Facebook. The revenue potential is exciting. According to a recent report, Facebook has about 665,000,000 active users around the globe, representing about one out of nine people on Earth. That kind of reach should command big bucks. The worrying factor is that such ads may be considered intrusive, and that is what has led to the delays.
I have no doubt that these ads will be intrusive. When I go to catch up on the minutiae of my friends' and family's lives, I don't particularly want to be told of the merits of Aquafresh, with an accompanying look inside somebody's mouth. If I consider the prospect, however, I don't think it will stop me going to the site. I am, after all, used to scrolling through a bunch of irrelevant stuff to peek into the lives of acquaintances, and if the soundtrack is annoying, I can turn down the volume.
For these reasons, I don't believe that this news could herald the end of Facebook. If most people react like me, there won't be any significant backlash to video advertising. The trendy, transient nature of social media per se is far more of a threat to Facebook's future than the slightly annoying presence of a few targeted video ads on the page.