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Facebook used to hate pre-roll video ads. Now it’s changing its mind.

Facebook is going to put more pre-roll video ads in more places.

A man looks at his phone while standing on a subway platform. Drew Angerer / Getty

Facebook resisted selling pre-roll video ads for years, the kind of ads that run before you get to watch the video you clicked to watch. The feeling was that people don’t actually like them, and they either ruin the experience or cause people to abandon the video altogether.

The problem: Advertisers love pre-roll video ads — and they haven’t liked any of the other formats Facebook has proposed instead, like ads that run during the middle of videos or at the end.

So Facebook finally decided to test pre-rolls in early 2018. Now Facebook says those tests are going well enough that the company will start running pre-roll video ads in more places — including videos that appear in search results or on publisher Pages.

Facebook still isn’t putting pre-rolls in News Feed, but it might. If they work better than the company’s mid-roll ads — think commercials that pop up in the middle of a video — Facebook could certainly roll them out more broadly.

Successful pre-roll video ads would be good news for Facebook’s business side (if not for Facebook’s product team, which has opposed them). The company is looking for ways to make money from its growing video business, which now includes Watch, a section of the app dedicated to repeat shows and series. The publishers and creators who make those shows need money for their work, and Facebook has long said that it expects that money to come from splitting advertising revenue. (Right now the company pays a lot of those creators directly.)

Pre-roll ads, coupled with mid-roll ads, could end up becoming the way Facebook keeps creators happy — and from abandoning Facebook and heading to other platforms.

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