Facebook ‘Watch’ Is Like TV, and It’s a Thing Marketers Want
Did you catch “Game of Thrones” last night? A friend may ask on Facebook’s News Feed or in Messenger. Or more likely, “Wow, (*NSFW adjective*) GoT!!!!!” And you’ll be able to instantly flip, within the app, to the “Watch” tab and … watch the TV show. (Then say, “Yeah, holy NSFW!”) One quick disclaimer: HBO hasn’t yet signed on. So for now, the marketing world is viewing the replaced video tab as more of a YouTube competitor than a full-on TV option.
But the new tool Facebook announced on Wednesday appears to be the next powerhouse ad option for marketers. This, as the social network’s representatives say the News Feed is saturated and there’s not much room for more ads. Plus, Facebook advertisers can be more certain that a YouTube-style snafu won’t happen, because the content is already from the Facebook user’s friends, family and personal brand preferences. (In April, Google’s YouTube had a problem with brand ads appearing on hate speech sites. It’s unclear how Facebook would position the videos in its Audience Network, though, which could give rise to a context squabble.)
As a sidenote, but one about which Facebook deeply cares, this could reintroduce intimacy on a platform where many users have stopped sharing personal thoughts and feelings as their networks grow to include more and more acquaintances. As marketers know, close friends and family have a powerful effect on buying decisions.
“Watching video on Facebook has the incredible power to connect people, spark conversation and foster community,” Daniel Danker, Facebook’s product director, says in the “Watch” announcement. “On Facebook, videos are discovered through friends and bring communities together.”
Speaking of competitors like YouTube, the announcement shows a bit of Netflix-style predictive analytics in play — users will see suggested programs in a “Watchlist” that includes suggestions and the latest episodes of the programs they’re watching.
While Danker wrote the “Watch” announcement for Facebook users, it clearly shows why marketers will value the tool:
Watch is personalized to help you discover new shows, organized around what your friends and communities are watching. For example, you’ll find sections like “Most Talked About,” which highlights shows that spark conversation, “What’s Making People Laugh,” which includes shows where many people have used the “Haha” reaction, and “What Friends Are Watching,” which helps you connect with friends about shows they too are following.
We’ve learned from Facebook Live that people’s comments and reactions to a video are often as much a part of the experience as the video itself. So when you watch a show, you can see comments and connect with friends and other viewers while watching, or participate in a dedicated Facebook Group for the show.
Ad Dollars Will Shift to ‘Watch’ From Programmatic and Traditional TV
Target Marketing asked readers to comment on Thursday about the Facebook announcement.
Tim Sovay is COO at CreatorIQ, an end-to-end software platform for influencer marketing, and he tells Target Marketing that he predicts:
Digital ad spend surpassed television for the first time in 2016 and social is playing a big part in that paradigm shift as formats like social video continue to double year-over-year (and increase to $4 billion in U.S. ad spend in 2017). The launch of ‘Watch’ from Facebook further emphasizes the massive disruption we are going to see here. If Facebook truly wants to rival YouTube, creator-developed content is going to play an essential part of the equation. The influencer marketing industry has moved from experimental to essential to reach younger audiences on mobile and social who are more likely to consume creator content over brand-owned content.
It will be interesting to follow how Facebook manages the ecosystem of creator-driven News Feed content vs. the more professionally produced content of ‘Watch.’ YouTube has found that balance between their channel-driven and Red strategy, but Facebook will continue to have the advantage of stronger discovery through the News Feed.
A while back, Facebook did invest in influencer programming for its videos.
Jason Beckerman, CEO and co-founder at Unified — a data management and business intelligence platform, adds these thoughts:
In so many ways, Facebook Watch could be a game-changer — for everyone: advertisers, creators and audiences. The most important number to keep in mind is 2.01 billion: as of June 2017, this was the total number of active Facebook users, globally. When you compare them to other video platforms, like YouTube for instance, Facebook is a much stickier destination. Think about conversations you’ve had — how many people are saying, “hold on, let me check YouTube?”
Facebook Watch is continuing the trend of social platforms driving the video conversation with uniqueness playing well in advertisers’ minds, especially as ad budgets shift from transitional programmatic video — something that has lost its “wow” factor. The social video space allows advertisers to engage with their target audience in real-time, anywhere and Facebook’s user base is primetime for advertisers looking to reallocate their TV ad spend.
Video View Metrics Are a Concern
A theme that kept coming up among the comments is that Facebook’s had a problem with providing accurate video view metrics to marketers. Some are concerned this could happen again with “Watch.”
Sovay says: “Measurement will always be key to brand marketers. Today, advertisers utilize platforms like CreatorIQ to measure the performance and impact of creator-driven content through their owned social CRM and business intelligence platform. We will be keeping a close eye on what, if any, ‘Watch’ performance metrics are included in Facebook's API, moving forward.”
This opens up the marketing supply chain, as the money begins to be shared among many parties, it’s going to be vital for marketers to demand more transparency in both social ad buying and placement. The sheer amount of data generated from Facebook’s digital advertising activity means that marketers need more centralized data ownership and control, as ad investment rises and becomes increasingly fragmented.
Wait-and-See Is Still a Thing, Too
“It’s still too early to tell what the impact of ‘Watch’ will be for media agencies or our advertisers,” says Brad Goldberg, VP of Advertising at HYFN, a digital solutions and cross-platform social advertising company. “[Watch is] definitely something that we at HYFN will be keeping an eye on as Facebook starts leveraging the feature to our clients. For now, this seems like more of a user engagement play before Facebook begins tapping into the advertiser side.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.