Facebook might bring 15-second commercial breaks to your News Feed

Facebook video ads
It's not going to send you back to MySapce

Millions of Facebook users already check their News Feeds during prime time television hours, so the social network is said to be taking the next step in its TV-time takeover by introducing TV-style ads.

Facebook video ads in the News Feed are expected to be 15 seconds long, according to anonymous Bloomberg sources.

That could earn the top social networking company as much as $2.5 million a day (about £1.63 million, AU$2.75 million) courtesy of its 1.15 billion users and their roughly 2.3 billion eyeballs.

The video ad spots will be limited to three a day, according to the sources. And if 15 seconds sounds familiar, it should; that's the maximum length for Video on Instagram posts, so we could see plenty of cross over.

Unlikely to mean more ads

Even if video ads are introduced, the number of of them isn't expected to increase based on comments made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"Right now, ads on average make up about 5 percent or one in 20 stories in News Feed," said Zuckerberg in a conference call last week.

"We're going to invest more in improving the quality [of ads]. Our top priority is to expand the number of marketers and overall demand in our system rather than just increasing the number of ads that we show."

The TV angle

Facebook executives have repeatedly alluded to the platform's ability to capture the television audience and their ongoing effort to roll out video ads.

"Every night, 88 million to 100 million people are actively using Facebook during prime time TV hours in United States alone," said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg during last week's call.

"[A] campaign for Lysol targeted moms and drove a two times return on ad spend for their brand. Their campaign for Air Wick was even better, driving a five times return on ad spend."

Facebook could make these typical television advertisers feel even more comfortable than they already do with 15-second videos targeted at people who "like" their product or "like" similar or competing items.

Video is already here

Facebook already has a video ads product for advertisers, but not of the auto-playing variety.

"Marketers can embed a video in a page post, and we see a lot of marketers using that product and seeing good results," said Sandberg.

"The demand to do more in video on Facebook is there, and we're exploring how we can expand that, but we don't have anything new to announce today."

These comments echoed what Sandberg said three months ago: "Because of marketers' inherent liking video as a format, we continue to explore new [types of ads] as well."

Outside of these "exploratory" statements, Facebook is staying mum on the subject of video ads.

"Facebook has no comment," a spokesperson for the social network told TechRadar today.

That means we're likely to wake up and see the TV-style ads roll out on the news feed without any sort of official announcement.

Matt Swider