Brace yourself for the next great annoyance. After throwing the Internet into a tizzy recently with changes to its privacy policy and Instagram’s terms of service, Facebook is reportedly set to stoke the flames of the next source of mass outrage: Autoplaying video ads in users’ News Feeds.

Ad Age is reporting the Menlo Park social network will introduce the video ads by April, a move that seems as sure to spur a backlash from users as it will bring coveted TV advertising dollars.

According to the report, the targeted video ads will expand from a user’s News Feed on both the desktop and mobile versions, and begin playing automatically. Audio for the ads may automatically play as well, the report said, though commercials may be capped at 15 seconds each.

The prospect of an annoying and obtrusive autoplay function is already causing worries. “There could be serious outrage,” one ad executive told Ad Age. But the financial benefits to Facebook will likely outweigh the prospect of a fraction of its 1-billion-plus users leaving in a huff.

The move could become a major revenue stream for Facebook, as video ads typically sell for significantly higher rates than static ads. “They are looking to grab big chunks of money . . . millions of dollars,”  one source told Ad Age.

Facebook already uses video ads in users’ News Feed, but they must clicked on to play, and a friend typically has to first “Like” the product or comment on it.

So like it or not, the video ads are coming. But just think, without Facebook, what would we all complain about in our Facebook status updates?

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (367 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.