Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Facebook Data Usage, video ads over cellular?

Recently FaceBook has been testing out video ads on their web and mobile app platforms. This causes videos in your feed to automatically play as well as show video ads directly in your newsfeed. The ads won’t play audio unless you click or tap your finger on them, but they also don’t care if you’re on WiFi or cellular when they start to download. As dynamic as FaceBook is with pictures and other video it was hard to pinpoint exactly how much data is often used in our “Monthly Data Usage Calculator?” article, and introducing autoplay video will cause usage to increase drastically. 

For users at home on wired broadband connections having a video autoplay isn’t a big deal with larger or no data caps, but wireless packages start at 2GB a month. For general web browsing and other activities like FaceBook won’t use a ton of data, but start autoplaying videos between every 5-10 news feeds and your consumption could grow exponentially. If you visit your Facebook app over cellular 3 times a day and encounter three autoplay 30 second videos at 1MB each (rough estimate) that’s approximately 9MB per day or 270MB a month. On a 2GB cellular starter package that accounts for about 13% of your data allotment from “AutoPlay” FaceBook video ads with no way to disable. 

The numbers we used as an example, according to Mashable Smartphone users visit FaceBook an average of 14 times a day. Using the same 1MB example autoplay video ads would equate to a whopping 1.26GB per month if you encounter three autoplay video’s each time you launched the application. This means if you’re on a base 2GB cellular package you’d now be using roughly 61% of your cellular connection to watch autoplay video ads that you would otherwise completely avoid.
How to disable autoplay via cellular on your Smartphone?

iOS Users - Go to settings -> Facebook -> Settings -> Tap Auto-play on WiFi only

Android users - Open FaceBook -> Open Settings -> Check Auto-Play videos on WiFi only 

Please Note - There is no way to completely disable autoplay ads. For users using cellular WiFi routers at home the applications won’t know the difference and it will eat into your monthly data consumption. 

Disclaimer - Data Usage used in this article is based off a 30 second video using approximately 1MB of data. Depending on your connection speed this number could be more or less based on video quality. Usage will vary greatly depending on how often you visit FaceBook and how many video ads you’re forced to watch.