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Facebook video ads may start appearing Thursday

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Facebook is about to get a lot more, shall we say, ‘visual’, with the networking giant set to roll out video ads this week.

While we’ve known for some time that the company has been moving towards video ads as part of its set up, it wasn’t clear until now about when they might be rolled out. According to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday, the ads – which will auto-play on mobile devices and the Web – will begin showing up in users’ News Feeds from this Thursday.

Having spoken to people familiar with the plans, the Journal said Facebook is set to make an announcement on the matter today, so be sure to check back for full details. 

The length of the ads isn’t currently known, though several earlier reports, including another from the Journal, suggested a running time of 15 seconds.

With more than a billion monthly active users worldwide, the introduction of targeted video ads looks set to turn into a massive money-spinner for Facebook, with some suggesting the social networking site could charge advertisers as much as $2.5 million a day for access to key demographics.

According to the Journal’s report, many firms are keen to get their ads on the service – entertainment giant Lionsgate is expected to be among the first to use the platform, with mini trailers for its upcoming futuristic thriller Divergent already lined up for slots this week. Others companies, however, are believed to be holding back until user reaction has been established – in other words, potential advertisers don’t want to be involved in any kind of backlash which could come Facebook’s way following the rollout of the videos.

The service was expected to launch last summer, and again a couple of months ago, but engineering issues, as well as protracted discussions on how it might affect the user experience, caused delays in its rollout. As part of its preparations, Facebook introduced auto-play videos in September. Beginning without sound, an interested viewer can activate the audio track by tapping on the video – advertiser’s offerings are likely to operate in the same way.

Judging by the Journal’s report today, Facebook evidently feels now is as good a time as any to hit the play button on video ads, though you can bet Zuckerberg and co. will be giving user feedback their undivided attention in the hours and days following the launch.

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