Facebook's auto-playing videos are working for marketers

Last year's controversy is this year's marketing opportunity, as the amount of videos being watched climbs to unprecedented heights.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read

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Who needs a button anyway? Videos that play without prompt are paying off handsomely in the attention department for brands that operate Facebook Pages.

In September 2013, Facebook made the controversial decision to start automatically playing videos (without sound) in News Feed -- but marketers posting in video form likely aren't complaining. In the first three months of the year, brand posts with video noticed 58 percent more engagement -- meaning click-throughs, likes, comments, or shares -- than in the prior three months, according to Adobe's Social Intelligence report published late Monday.

Collectively, video plays from organic brand posts were up 785 percent over the year-ago quarter, and up 134 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013, Adobe found.


Together, the stats mean that Facebook members are viewing more video from brands, and interacting more by liking and sharing video posts, which suggests that people are generally happier with video from brands, said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst on Adobe's report.

Auto-playing videos in News Feed is part of Facebook's ongoing balancing act to give marketers and consumers what they want, Gaffney told CNET. The video-viewing factoids point to a potentially favorable trend for marketers that are looking for a free way to boost engagement and make up for lost reach as a result of changes to Facebook's News Feed, which, on the whole, have negatively affected their ability to reach their fan following on the social network.

Text-only posts from brands, however, seem to be on the losing end of Facebook's changes. Member engagement with text posts was down to about half a percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 1.7 percent one year ago, Adobe found.

Adobe's Social Media Intelligence report is based around anonymized, aggregated data gathered from 5,000 clients. The report looked at 260 billion Facebook advertising impressions, 226 billion Facebook post impressions, 17 billion referred visits from social-networking sites, and 7 billion brand post interactions such as comments, likes, and shares.

The report found that Facebook's advertising business continues to show solid growth, with ad impressions and ad clicks up 70 percent and 40 percent, respectively, year over year.