Facebook will launch video advertising within two months, according to the Financial Times.
The newspaper reports that the social media giant will begin rolling out video ads from July, with a limited number of major clients being invited to use the new service. It is thought that video advertising will then be made available on a 'self-service' basis to all advertisers.
Although Facebook has so far declined to comment on the plans, some details have emerged. It is thought that adverts will appear without sound in users' news feeds, and that they will then begin playing again in the event that a user turns on the sound. During the early stages of the service users will only see videos from one advertiser per day.
Facebook is positioning the service as an alternative to TV advertising, pricing its videos in the "low $20s" per thousand views. This is slightly cheaper than the current average cost of TV ads.
What does this mean for me?
Although Facebook video ads will not be available to everyone at launch, they still have implications for your small business. The first and most important thing to understand is that the nature of online advertising, and indeed of the internet itself, is changing. If anything, Facebook has been slow on the uptake. Video is now a huge force online. Web users are increasingly choosing video over any other medium, as it provides a quick, low hassle means by which they can receive information.
Similarly, Facebook's pricing represents the perceived shift in consumers' viewing patterns. Conventional TV advertising is seen to be becoming less efficient, simply because consumers are not watching TV in the same way. Instead, they are either watching films and programmes through online on-demand services, or with a 'second screen' - that is, a laptop, tablet, or smartphone that is in use at the same time as the TV is on.
Facebook's entry into the video advertising market is therefore a symptom of a wider shift towards online video content.
How can I use online video advertising?
Although it may be some months before you can sign up to Facebook's service, there is a number of other ways in which your small business might experiment with video advertising.
The most important of these is YouTube. YouTube is the world's most popular video sharing site, generating 400 million views every day. There are two key ways in which you can use YouTube in your marketing.
Although YouTube might seem like a difficult nut to crack, there are simple ways in which you can use it to build your customer base. Read our guide to YouTube for small businesses for more.