Facebook would like you to hate it a little bit more

Oh Facebook.

First it was the seemingly endless privacy issues.

Then it was yesterday’s announce that Instagram, a Facebook property, would soon have the right to sell all of your photos, without giving you a dime, or even notice that they’ve been sold.

And now we hear that Facebook will be starting to show auto-play video ads, that start running as soon as you open the page, and they’ll be running in your news feed.


Because nothing says “hate me” more than putting an auto-play ad on your Web site.  ABC News does it a lot, and it’s obnoxious.  We ban those ads on our site, but some advertisers still manage to slip them through.

The thing is, it’s getting harder and harder to make decent money from online advertising.  Some people I talk to think online advertising is dead, permanently, and that Web sites that used to rely on advertising, like the media and blogs, but also places like Facebook, need to reinvent themselves or they won’t be around in a year or two.

And they’re not entirely wrong.

Advertising revenue died when Lehman Brothers collapsed, and it’s only come back so-so in the past year or two.  In the meantime, competition is on the rise, not just from other media sites, but from other sites that people use to peruse our content before deciding whether to come to our site, like Twitter and Facebook.  So you have an ever-more-difficult search for eyeballs mixed with a permanently crippled advertising climate.  What’s your alternative?  For some, like Facebook, it’s the online version of fracking – something that can squeeze out that last hard-to-get advertising dollar – auto-play ads.

We don’t ever plan on going there, if I can help.  But I’ve certainly gotten more sympathetic to the need for advertising, and less annoyed when someone else’s site loads a bit more slowly because of the ads.  I undersand how hard it is to make a living online.  But auto-play ads?  Really?

I’ll stick with asking you all nicely to please donate to the blog so we can keep the obnoxious ads quiet :)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Naja pallida

    It is only a matter of time before Facebook goes the way of MySpace, Netscape, AOL Keywords, Lycos, Webcrawler, AltaVista… they have to do everything they can to line their pockets before the brand becomes a mere footnote in the history of the Internet and everyone moves on to the next latest and greatest thing.

  • FunMe

    Youtube has ad at most of their videos. I’m used to pressing the MUTE button and blanking the screen, and it is no big deal. Good thing about youtube is that after 5 seconds you can “skip ad”.

  • Naja pallida

    Honestly, if there is a reason why online advertising is dying is because they have been determined to make it as obnoxious as possible. Auto-play videos is just one trend. Blinking, scrolling, flashing banners that take up column space where I would rather be reading the article than scrolling through crap I’m not interested in. I don’t think I have ever seen web advertising where I just felt the need to click on it and go see what the product they’re selling is about.

    Another thing I find aggravating is that most websites don’t make any effort to be consistent in their ads, they simply sign up to a service and are fed whatever ads they’re fed – even if they don’t really do anything to improve the appearance or appeal of the site. It’s like watching Saturday morning cartoons and suddenly a Viagra ad comes on. I realize the audience of web sites is a lot more variable than television, but if sites had a few sponsors, instead of a mishmash of whatever they were fed, it might help make things less annoying.

    Anyway, like others, I use several browser ad/script blockers, and especially flash/video blockers so nothing can play without my specifically allowing it to.

  • @ted in dallas not in the Senate or House you don’t. You get 3 electoral votes so yes your vote counts for the executive branch, but you’re just being petty.

  • Ted in Dallas

    @Jim Morrissey…”I mean, in DC you have taxation without representation but you’re
    paying income tax and you don’t get a voice in the government.” Yes, I do. It’s called voting.

  • Jim Olson

    On my Mac, I use AdBlock, cranked up to its highest settings. I see no advertising on any website, and no auto-play videos, except on ABC, which I avoid.

  • Tyke

    I’ve looked for news sources on this story and find they all lead back to one source that only says Facebook “may” trial auto-play video ads in the next 6 months and gives no citation other than “anonymous” sources.
    Is there any substance to this rumor beyond that? If not it wouldn’t be the first time an “OMG you won’t BELIEVE what FB is about to do” hoax went viral.

  • Drew2u

    Oh, you mean like MySpace? ;p

  • MyrddinWilt

    I use Google chrome (disclosure, they are a client) and in particular I now surf with JavaScript turned off by default.

    This is a little irritating at first, but I have now enabled it for most of the sites I use regularly that do not abuse it (Americablog, my bank, Google, about 100 others). There are some I will never enable it for (Facebook, Huffington Post, any Gawker site, New York Times). If I want to look at anything that needs JavaScript I copy and paste the URL into Safari or IE depending on which machine/partition I am on.

    The privacy thing has me really worried. JavaScript is just a road accident. And at some point the regulators are going to be screaming. But right now it is very difficult to do anything because people say they want privacy but 90% will abandon any browser unless it works 100% with all the sites out there. And that means enabling horrible security holes in JavaScript.

  • So you’re using a free site and you want representation? How do the two compare? I mean, in DC you have taxation without representation but you’re paying income tax and you don’t get a voice in the government. I mean, how much do you pay to FB and what voice are you looking for? If you want a voice, get on the FB board of directors. The two are an incompatible analogy.

  • caphillprof

    I think the problem with Facebook and other websites ( and with credit card companies for that matter) is that they keep changing the rules. At some point this becomes taxation without representation.

  • UncleBucky

    Flashblock? Source, pls? :)

  • UncleBucky

    Well, it’s not a matter of Facebook forcing us to use it or the advertisers either. Rather, it has become the nexus of friends and families to share more than phone calls or post cards. I don’t object AT ALL to ads. The problem is the kinds of ads from small-minded small business people pushing their dubious products and strings-attached services.

    I don’t know about you, but I recoil against ANY KIND of “push” advertising. I would have broken more TV screens at the obnoxious ads, had the cost not been so high. Wouldn’t it be great to feedback a thumbs-down at these spammy TV ads? Likewise for the net. The fact that they don’t ask “please” for me to engage myself with their ad is reason #1 not to look at it, to dismiss it, and to try what I can to destroy their attempt (usually it amounts to nothing, but there are ways that people can band together against a company such as Chick-fil-F, Cancer Treatment Centers of ‘Merica, etc.) at getting my attention. I am a “pull” user, and if the photo, product, text and approach are engaging, then, yes, I may open the video.

    It can’t be free, correct. But why do we jump from $0 to $20 for a service, instead of an incremental usage fee that is based more on the reality of the usage than the marketers think?

    I am sick of marketers who think their ___ doesn’t ___. Hahaha.

  • So let me get this straight…you are using a free service and uploading your data to it free of charge and they want to run ads and use your info to sell to advertisers! Wow. That’s INSANE I mean, usually companies just make money out of thin air.

    In all seriousness, let them have what I’m uploading. If I don’t want to share it with the world I won’t put it on social media. I still think the good outweighs the bad (or better said inconveniences). I mean I get to keep up with friends I never would have otherwise, I get to promote my parties, advertise my blog (hey you guys see this blog as an example of that) and share music and ideas, learn about things – and yes sometimes get false information but that’s everywhere (like CNN recently). What do you people want from these guys? Seriously?

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Autoplay video ads will force people away from a site (or get them to use Flashblock or other tool to prevent the ad every playing). They’re not worth it to run.

  • NCMan

    No one is forcing anyone to use Facebook. If someone doesn’t like their processes, the easy solution is to not join or to quit. Facebook needs to find a way to start making real money now. The “hooked” everybody with their “free” service just like a drug dealer gets his customers “hooked” with “free” samples in the beginning. Now members of Facebook have to start paying one way or another. It’s either going to be your private information that they can sell or you’ll have to accept that Facebook become a service that you pay a monthly fee for. It can’t be free forever. It never could.

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