Facebook is slowly rolling out a new system that will give Facebook Credits to users who willingly view certain video ads--you might have read about it in Christopher's Weekly News Reel article over the weekend. And now they have their first major brand on board to help test the system: ClickZ reports that Clorox will be one of the first brands to serve as guinea pigs.
It sounds simple enough: viewers watch a video ad in its entirety, and they receive Facebook Credits in exchange, which they can use for Facebook Deals purchases or for upgrades to one of the many social video games like Cityville.
And before Facebook users get wide-eyed at the possibility of some get rich quick scheme for Facebook Credits... you'll only be able to watch ads like this once. If you try to watch again to earn extra credits, you'll receive a message that you've already completed the action.
The cost of the credits will come out of the advertisers' pockets, but it's built into the up-front pricing structure being arranged with each advertiser.
Here's a screenshot ClickZ took of the Clorox ad:
Clorox is an interesting brand to be among the first to try this, but only because I'm not used to them being pioneers in online marketing endeavors. But Facebook has such a wide cross section of users that almost any brand can find an audience there. Giving viewers an incentive to watch an ad is a great way to ensure that your message is heard.
The new "credits-for-ad-views" system is pretty ingenious. Research shows that viewers are much more engaged with ads when they have some control over it--the ability to skip the ad, for instance, or an interactive element. And there's no better way to give users control than to let them decide whether they want to watch the ad in the first place.
Of course, for this thing to work in the long term, Facebook Credits is going to have to become more widespread. I don't know a single person who uses Facebook Credits, though I'd expect that to change as their Deals program grows and becomes more robust and more widely adopted by consumers.
Mostly I'm just happy to see Facebook and forward-thinking brands like Clorox willing to test and try new methods of making video advertising more appealing to users. Traditional ads aren't going to work on the web for very long, and will require this kind of innovation, interactivity, and user-control in order to stand out and actually get the viewer's attention.