Facebook starts paid messages, may consider video ads

December 20, 2012

Facebook is reportedly pulling back on its plans to release an advertising network after testing the idea earlier in the year, according to a Wednesday report from All Things Digital.

In a statement from the company, Facebook confirmed it was “pausing” its mobile ads test. It said that the feedback it’s had from the tests has been positive so far but it wants to concentrate on other kinds of ads.

“Our focus is on scaling ads in mobile news feed before ads off of Facebook,” the statement read. “We have learned a lot from this test that will be useful in the future.”

Facebook’s news feed ads, which feature promoted content in users’ home streams, may be changing even more in the future. According to an Advertising Age article this week, the company is also considering courting television advertisers with the introduction of short video ads to play its users’ news feeds.

According to the Advertising Age report, Facebook may be considering having the videos play automatically, though it may mute the videos by default. Advertising executives interviewed by AdAge said that they expect they will be able to target mobile and desktop video ads in much the same way as television advertisements, including to Facebook users beyond their base of fans on the site.

Facebook declined to comment on the Advertising Age report.

Advertising is something that Facebook has long wrestled with, as it tries to strike a balance between not annoying users and the advertisers who pay to support it.

This problem has been particularly difficult on the network’s mobile site and applications, where smaller screens hamper advertisers’ ability to present advertisements.

Facebook is also reportedly testing a new feature that would allow it to get revenue from users. According to a report from CNET, the social network is testing a feature that offers users the option to pay $1 to raise the profile of a message sent to someone outside their network. Facebook currently filters messages sent on the site, and those sent by people outside a network end up in a filtered folder called “Other.” Paying to promote a message would take it directly to a users’ inbox.

This service is very similar to one already available at the professional social network LinkedIn, where users may want to pay to reach possible business contacts. According to CNET, the feature is not yet being tested with brands, only individual users.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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