Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bookface

This announcement kind of highlights a lot of what is wrong inside the heads of the people behind Facebook.

They're going to start autoplaying video adverts, initially without sound (as they apparently have been with user videos, though I haven't seen any). The idea is that the brightly-coloured movement will attract your eye, and after a moment of staring at it you'll naturally want to click to activate sound.

Because of course, the best way to watch a video is always mute for the first twenty seconds.

But as you read this press release, you realise it's not a new mechanism for getting adverts in front of your eyeballs so Facebook employees can pay their bills. It's "a New Way for Marketers to Tell Stories", a "richer storytelling format for advertisers".  It's not just for the benefit of marketers, it's "for people who will discover more great content". And after the video is over, they want to make it "easy to discover more content from the same marketer" - because clearly this is a thing that you desperately want to do, but have hitherto had difficulty doing.

It is entirely possible that these are just flowery words, trying to sell advertising services in a forum that is also visible to users, but the sensibility seems so deeply ingrained that I honestly think they believe it themselves[1].

That's why it'll never go away. It's not about the money. They actually think they're doing you a favour.


[1] Of course, the best copywriters do, at least while they are writing it. I am reminded of the Balseraphs, from Steve Jackson Games' In Nomine, who, as fallen angels of absolute truth, can tell the most convincing of lies simply by redefining their own personal reality.