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Facebook explores TV-style advertising

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The continued attempts to make cash out of social media will see Facebook move into video advertising. The site is rumoured to be planning to run 15-second ads in users' news feeds.

Facebook's research suggests that 15 seconds is short enough not to feel too annoyingly intrusive to users while allowing advertisers to be creative and imaginative with the content. It is also the same length as a video clip for Facebook's Instagram service. Facebook hopes to make about $2 million a day from this kind of advertising.

Digital companies have been frustrated that so much of the big advertising money is still channelled towards television, with premium events like the Superbowl attracting millions of dollars for a few seconds of coverage. Facebook in particular is keen to maximise profits from its major asset; its billion users world wide.

While Google soaks up 33 percent of digital ad revenue worldwide, essentially from its search engine, Facebook makes just five percent from its users. It believes that, by offering advertisers the opportunity to reach that many users, $2 million a day is not an unreasonable target.

The question with all digital phenomena though is how long they will last. Television is a time-served universal medium that has been going strong as a commercial form of entertainment for eight decades. Advertisers might be reluctant to invest millions in a medium like Facebook which, depending on the caprices of the digital world, could follow MySpace into web oblivion within a few months.

With the latest revelations about the extent to which the US and UK governments have eavesdropped on social media, there could be a mass move away from Facebook. Especially if it is riddled with 15-second ads for Nike and Coco Pops every time you try to check out your friend's holiday snaps.

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