A few months ago Mark Zuckerberg said “I see video as a megatrend. That's why I'm going to keep putting video first across our family of apps.”
The truth is, long before this statement, Facebook had already started an aggressive push on all fronts to make video a fundamental part of everything it does. New features across its platforms have been dropping on a weekly basis such as Messenger Day, Insta Stories, Facebook Stories, Geofilters on Instagram, Vertical video on Facebook, and plenty more that are in the works.
Let’s take a step back and think about this. On one hand, we know that the traditional value of any media channel lies primarily on the number of people that use it and the amount of time they spend on it. On the other hand, we know that social channels are all about bite-size content that often takes very little time to consume. Conclusion: Social channels need to find ways to prolong the time spent on their platforms. The keyword here is time.
If we analyze any new feature released in the last couple of years by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube or any other similar channel, we’d find that in one way or another, the platform is providing more opportunity for users to do more, access more, create more, consume more, and most importantly spend more time.
So as the leader of the pack, Facebook has taken to video as a way of cutting through the clutter and claiming a sizable chunk of people’s time. And they didn’t base that on gut feel, but on proper insights. According to data scientists at Facebook, the average user would spend 5x longer looking at videos rather than still imagery. Facebook also partnered with Nielson and conducted a global study across 174 video campaigns on its platform from different brands around the world. Amazingly enough, the study showed that users that saw only a few seconds of video – as opposed to static advertising – reported higher scores in ad recall, brand awarenss, message assosation, product consideration and purchase intent.
As a result, Facebook started prioritising videos on the Newsfeed over static content, knowing that users are likely to enjoy them more and spend more time viewing them. They’ve also started detecting user behaviour around the length of content they watch, and deliver to them videos of the optimum length.
A few months ago, Facebook TV was launched, which is a Smart TV app currently available on Apple TV and Amazon Fire. The app is a video only hub that contains all videos available publicly on the platform,and it allows users to login using their Facebook credentials. One of the app’s key benefits is that it allows users who discover a long piece of video on their smartphone to save it and watch it at home on the big screen through the Facebook TV app.
Facebook has also started developing its production offering recognising the huge success of Netflix, Hulu and lately YouTube Red. It may not be long before we start seeing content that is “brought to you by Facebook”. To ensure attracting a different set of audience, they also started bidding on rights to air sports events the Facebook Live functionality. They’re expected to be amongst the channels airing the Major League Baseball next season in the United States.
So what does this mean for brands?
Putting more weight on the importance of video is likely to make many brands nervous given the percieved cost and resource required to produce video content. However, it’s important to remember that this is not TV. In many cases, micro-video is likely to be the sufficient output, such as Cinemagraphs, GIFs, Boomerangs, Slideshows and other techniques that have seen worldwide success on Facebook. These short and subtle video forms can, on one hand, be quite successful in cutting through the attention challenge, and on the other be cost and resource efficiant to produce the volume of outputs required to maintain always on activity
The big production video has a role to play, and static images will always have their value, but it’s important to recognise that the slightest element of motion can often be the single difference between what someone would stop and watch, and what they’d scroll right past without thinking twice.