In Facebook’s early years as a massively popular social network, change to the site would come hard and fast, provoking anger and confusion from its quickly growing user base. The company’s refined its strategy since then using small incremental updates and A/B testing to the point where most changes go unnoticed. So when Facebook decided to introduce the first sponsored video ads into its central newsfeed the truth is we probably wouldn’t have even noticed the change immediately if it wasn’t for an official blog post confirming the update.
Starting today 15-second commercials from a hand-picked group of advertisers will bombard your newsfeed, though no one’s forcing you to watch them. The new video ads will play automatically without sound, thanks to a recent update which did the same thing to your friend’s videos. If you’re not interested just scroll on by, or if you want you can turn on the volume. It’s up to you.
For the most part, the addition of video ads won’t make much of a difference for most Facebook users. If you use the site on your smartphone, tablet or computer you know every fourth or fifth post is already an ad anyway. And if you’re looking for an ad-free experience there’s always Paper on iOS, though there’s no guarantee that distinction will last forever.