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Of course Facebook was going to ruin Messenger with autoplay video ads

Updated Jun 19th, 2018 1:23PM EDT
Facebook Messenger Video Ads
Image: Shutterstock

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Facebook says it will start placing video ads inside the social media giant’s standalone Messaging service next week, an outgrowth of the company saying it’s run out of how many ad units it can squeeze into the main newsfeed and elsewhere in the app as it looks to wring value out of every monetizable hole that it can.

That means ads everywhere from slotted in-between Stories in Instagram to Facebook’s Marketplace service to, now, video ads that potentially interrupt private chat exchanges between friends and family.

Stefanos Loukakos heads up Messenger’s ad business for Facebook and told Recode that the company will be watching to see how users react and if the presence of video ads turns them off or makes them dial down how much they use Messenger.

Loukakos told the publication the user experience is “top priority for us.”

“So we don’t know yet [if these will work],” he said. “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.”

As of May, Messenger was ranked as the third most popular mobile social networking app, with a monthly mobile audience reach of almost 106 million. The service has managed to remain somewhat untouched thus far by the money-making ambitions of Facebook’s ad service, though I’ve seen the occasional static ad inside Messenger myself. It’s been a little jarring to notice one pop up, though that may have something to do with the infrequency until now. It’s also easy to see why Facebook wants video ads inside Messenger, as those are bigger money-makers for the company.

In unrelated Messenger news, Facebook pushed out an update to the app in recent days that was meant to fix instances of it crashing every time you try to open it. The company has also said it will be doing something about all those annoying “You are now connected on Messenger” notifications. Today’s news, meanwhile, underscores how the service is increasingly taking a prominent role on the Facebook ecosystem.

Bottom line: Messenger users may have enjoyed a mostly ad-free experience until now, but don’t expect that to last forever.

UPDATE: A Facebook spokesperson supplied the following statement to BGR via email –

“As we shared with advertisers at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we are now expanding the availability of video ads to Messenger. We will be rolling out video ads gradually and thoughtfully. People that use Messenger each month are our top priority and they will remain in control of their experience.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.