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Facebook ‘Watch’ and What It Means for the Future of Video Marketing

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After months of anticipation, Facebook released ‘Watch’, their new home for original video content. Watch is replacing the Video tab and will act as a platform for both live and pre-recorded video content on Facebook. Watch joins a string of video hubs added to the social landscape (YouTube Red, Cabana, Live.ly, etc.), signaling an update for how marketers approach video content from both a content and media perspective.

Adding an entirely new video platform to the social landscape might feel overwhelming for marketers who are already splintering their budgets, but while Watch is currently limited to a select group of publishers and content creators, there are ways for them to tweak their current video strategy and either be a part of Watch now or be ready when the platform is more widely available. Below are emerging social platform trends that are influencing marketers’ video strategy and can help prepare for the new and expanding landscape:

Emerging Platforms

Facebook Watch, YouTube TV, Tumblr’s Cabana are all new destinations where people are watching video instead of discovering in feed or tuning into traditional television. To take advantage of these new audiences, Facebook recently made their in-stream video ad placement (5-15 second mid-roll videos) available for all campaign objectives. This placement is currently available to all advertisers and will insert your ad into longer-format videos (longer than 90 seconds) in the News Feed and on the Watch platform. Like television commercials, your ad is more likely to maintain viewer attention as they are more invested in the content following your ad.

Until now, Facebook has encouraged an audience-focused media approach and this placement allows for a more contextually relevant strategy. Existing media budgets shouldn’t increase as inventory is limited, but spend may increase as online video networks, full episode players and television networks get more involved. Similarly, brands can use Twitter In-Stream or Sponsored and YouTube Trueview to replicate this experience on other platforms.

Interest-Focused Communities

With the over-saturation of content, consumers are starting to organize their cluttered feeds by joining interest-specific communities. In fact, Facebook groups are used by over 1 billion users. They will further perpetuate this user behavior as it will give fans a place to watch, discuss and connect. While ‘Show Pages’ are currently only available to creators on the Watch platform, there are other ways brands can capitalize on this behavior.

For example, Facebook recently announced Brand Groups that enable brands to create customized interest-focused communities. For the Premiere of HBO’s mini-series Big Littles Lies, HBO opted to create a Facebook Group and communal viewing experience where viewers could engage with one another, in lieu of an individual Facebook Page. Fans shared their theories and reactions on episodes each week, news around the show’s stars, and more. While this may be effective for entertainment brands, it is not a one-size-fits all experience and marketers should have a deep understanding of their audience interests and behavior before initiating a niche community.

Participatory Creative

Watch is different from competing video hubs because it showcases video alongside viewer reactions and comments. According to Facebook, the Watch platform was inspired by the success of Facebook Live and how “people’s comments and reactions to a video are often as much a part of the experience as the video itself.” This poses the opportunity for brands with active fan bases to democratize their social presence and test creative that is influenced by their social activity. 360i and HBO saw this come to life in this past spring. By using key commands and emojis, fans held the power to melt an SUV-sized block of ice to reveal the date, generating over 1MM comments.

Influencer Content

Each social media user follows a number of influencers who resonate specifically with that user’s lifestyle and interests, cutting through the crowded space with credibility and authenticity for the brands they promote. Most marketers have become familiar with influencers and are using them as content creators, but there are ways brands can further integrate. Knowing that there will be various content creators on the Watch platform, it would be advantageous of brands to start having conversations on how their product can be integrated into content. Last year, in partnership with Meredith, Martha Stewart was an early adopter of utilizing long-form video content as both an entertainment vehicle and a revenue stream, introducing product placements throughout her cooking segments.

 

What’s Coming Next?

Overall, we predict that this is only the beginning for video on Facebook. The introduction of Watch and knowing that Facebook-owned Premium content is coming down the pipeline, it is likely that consumers will come to expect all of their favorite shows readily available on social. Understanding that the entertainment industry is specifically driven by live ratings and on-air monetization, the inclusion of social in the content distribution mix will significantly change the way success is measured and revenue is generated.

As of now, we recommend that marketers (across verticals) work to adopt the above trends and tweak the way they are currently approaching video. More specifically, entertainment marketers should start to think how their business model can better integrate social and CPG marketers should ideate around how their brand can better ‘entertain’ their target audience in a way that is connected to overarching business objectives.

 

Danielle Calogera, Account Supervisor, Sarah Wanger, Senior Social Marketing Manager, Carly Michaels, Social Marketing Manager and Amy Donnelly, Social Marketing Supervisor at 360i also contributed to this post.