Facebook rolling out auto-play video ads in News Feed

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 9.00.03 AMFacebook is beginning to roll out auto-playing video ads in the News Feed — following through on a long-anticipated effort to increase advertising revenue across devices and desktop computers. The company announced today that it is running a limited “test” of the system, using ads for the upcoming dystopian teen action film “Divergent” to try out the concept.

Here’s how the ads will work: They will auto-play when they come into view in the News Feed, and stop playing when a user scrolls past them. The ads will initially start playing without sound, but a user can click on the video to turn the sound on.

Mobile users with tight limits on their data plans don’t need to worry about the ads, at least for now. Facebook said that the videos will only pre-load on WiFi connections, so users won’t burn through their mobile data limits.

While video posts on some Facebook pages already start auto-playing, the company said that this advertising product is designed to give a particular piece of content broader and longer reach.

The social network is playing the rollout very cautiously. Initially, the ads will be limited to Divergent, and while the company hasn’t revealed pricing, it said in a post to its Facebook for Marketers blog that it wants the feature to be a “premium advertising format on Facebook, intended to reach a large audience at specific times.” That’s good news for users, who presumably don’t want every third post on their News Feed to be an auto-playing video ad.

Still, the timing isn’t coincidental. Wall Street has been quite interested in the ads, especially since earlier rumors said that a video ad campaign reportedly could cost up to $2 million a day, which would be good news for Facebook’s bottom line.

For a glimpse of how the video ads will look on your news feed, check out the video below.