Marketers will now be able to have their autoplay ads viewed in Facebook’s popular Messenger chat app.

A New Video Outlet

A year and a half after initially introducing advertisements to its Messenger app, Facebook has officially announced that in stream video ads will now start to appear in users’ inboxes. This announcement came a few weeks ago at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France.

This news comes as the social networking giant has struggled to make room for new ad inventory on its flagship platform, and is just one of many recent efforts to persuade advertisers to shift their campaigns to Messenger, Marketplace and Instagram. To that end, the autoplay video ads will not be available to target as a standalone channel, and advertisers who wish to have their videos displayed in the app will need to purchase ads that either target the Facebook news feed or Instagram.


Opportunity met with Scrutiny

While this move is clearly aimed at larger advertisers who are increasingly raising their mobile spend, there are many who are scrutinizing Facebook’s decision to have ads appear alongside private messages from friends and family. Especially as more users are claiming that ads are becoming too intrusive, and brands try to create an advertising environment that has more authenticity and flow.

“The top priority for us is user experience, so we don’t know yet [if these ad units will work]”, said Messenger’s Director, Stefanos Loukakos in a recent statement with Recode. “However, signs until now, when we tested basic ads, didn’t show any changes with how people used the platform or how many messages they send. Video might be a bit different, but we don’t believe so.”

The company went on to say that only a small percentage of users will start to see the ads at first, giving them time to monitor how these ads will impact the user experience.


Younger Audiences are Signing Off

In terms of user experience, it would seem that Facebook is on a particularly slippery slope with younger demographics, as findings from Pew Research Center revealed that Facebook is starting to fall out with American youngsters. Teens aged 13-17 that use the social network (51%) have dropped a whopping 71% over the past several years, falling behind other social mediums such as YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%).


Weighing Your Options

Advertisers who are looking to reach their social audiences in different ways with their display campaigns should take this announcement as good news. Having said that, with the level of scrutiny its received and the time Facebook will likely spend limiting its circulation, don’t expect dramatically positive results right out of the gates.

Still, with 1.3 billion monthly active users using Messenger, the opportunity is rich. At the end of the day, by taking the time to ensure ad content quality is exceptional and closely monitoring negative insights such as spam complaints, marketers should be able to glean enough information on whether or not leveraging Messenger as a video marketing channel is worth the investment.