Facebook will start rolling out autoplaying ads in Messenger ‘from next week. The social media company will begin testing the feature with a small group of users, followed by a wider rollout. In a statement to Quartz, a Facebook spokesperson said people will “remain in control of their experience”. However, it does not look like users will be able to disable autoplaying ads in Messenger.
Instead, Messenger will give users options to hide a specific ads, report an ad as well as adjust ad targeting preferences. “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,” Facebook said in a statement to Quartz.
Facebook started pushing ads on Messenger last year, though autoplaying ads is new. The move is aimed at monetising the third-largest messaging platform in the world, which is used by close to 1.3 billion people globally. At the F8 conference this year, Facebook launched an Augmented Reality feature for Messenger that will allow users to see products they are shopping for as if they already have them, such as a car parked in a driveway, etc. The feature will likely draw more advertisers to the platform.
Messenger service with ads will be an important part of the company’s long-term revenue growth. According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook generated virtually all its $41 billion in revenue last year by selling ads targeted with user data. It remains to be seen how people react to autoplaying ads in Messenger given the service is primarily used for personal conversations, and less for consuming public content.
Stefanos Loukakos, who runs Messenger’s ad business, told Recode that the company will monitor a user’s behaviour to determine if the ads turn people off. “Top priority for us is user experience. So we don’t know yet [if these will work]. 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,” Loukakos said in a statement.