Facebook is betting big on video
In August 2016 Facebooks’ ad revenue in video, finally overtook its traditional static ad delivery after trending towards this milestone for the past two years.
In the wake of their Q3 2017 earnings report (end of July), Facebook showed a huge increase in the monetisation of video advertising, particularly on Mobile, within the Facebook News feed. As well as huge growth in Instagram video (stories) this year.
Facebook has also started experimenting with inserting ad breaks into videos, these ads are served in the middle of video content (mirroring more traditional broadcast ad revenue models), and delivering higher commission to content creators (up to 55%) for the privilege.
So, fast forward to August 2017 it’s interesting to see that Facebook will now be commissioning its own long-form episodic content & viewing hub, which will no doubt include many of their new ad delivery models.
What’s truly unique though, is that this content is all commissioned, created and deployed specifically for Facebook; this will be high quality ‘TV style’ programming designed to visually and creatively mirror the likes of HBO, Netflix, and Amazon Video.
Insight that will appeal to creators and advertisers
Facebook has spent years developing their video infrastructure, compression, capability and capacity, in anticipation of a greater reliance on video content. whether that’s streaming, hosting, or Live content deployment.
It has also been doing extensive research into the content itself, using its vast wealth of audience, geographical, technological and demographic data, including things like; frequency, length, narrative, story arc, engagement and returning community engagement (vlog and episodic subscriptions) to understand what types of content people are consistently engaging with and what the “formula” for successful content is amongst different demographics.
The data appears to suggest that it is predominantly video content with run times of 18 minutes plus that hits the mark. These pieces have a unique way of retaining the viewing demographic onsite during the entire viewing period, and teasing the viewer to more regular “re-engagement opportunities” with associated fan pages, instant reactions, and interactions with a wider, more immediately engaged community.
These analytics have led to Facebook commissioning a range of original content in episodic form with the focus on “subscribed community engagement” and supported by a highly targeted ad revenue model.
This “hero” content will be supported by cheaper / shorter content produced by multiple well-established production publishers such as; Buzzfeed, College Humour, UNILAD, LADbible, and Vox Media. Creating shorter series’, with slightly more focused narrative arc.
This is nothing new for these small media publishers, however traditionally this would be assumed value generated through additional more traditional marketing activity, but with Facebook offering a small investment upfront, it allows content creators to develop more high quality, creative content pieces from the outset.
More effective content and ad creative
Facebook says it’s not trying to become another SVOD (streaming video on demand) service, but says its creating this content as a catalyst for exploring a unique “publisher to community” ad revenue system. This will basically allow the creator to have more influence on how and what advertising is delivered during their content, and will more actively share these revenues with creators.
Eventually these smaller publishers will begin to fund content based on popularity or capability – rather than the traditional broadcast “pitch and pray methods”. Allowing production costs to be more effectively distributed throughout the brands’ traditional marketing resources.
Creating episodic content is a more cost effective approach for Brands & publishers to deliver a regular variety of video content, keeping the narrative arc consistent and relevant to their industry.
Brands and publishers can also use this deeper audience demographics data to more accurately define their audience trends and tailor their advertising throughout these episodes to be more accurately responsive to their content and the desires of the audience at that time.
This means the ‘content creators’ themselves become ambassadors of their own content’s advertising as well as the narrative. This method of creative & commissioning control will allow brands, publishers and production houses to create and deliver better viewing experiences where advertising content is more closely and creatively linked to the essence of the narrative and visually linked to the programming (takeovers on ITV), and should therefore feel less disruptive to the overall programming.