What You Need To Know About Facebook Watch

What You Need To Know About Facebook Watch
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With new media streams constantly emerging, it can be tough to keep up with the latest advances on platforms. Fear not, B&T and Facebook have teamed up to provide a handy cheat sheet for everything you need to know. First cab off the rank: Facebook Watch.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that mobile video is already kind of a big deal. The thing is, it’s going to get a lot bigger.

Indeed, Cisco predicts 75 per cent of mobile web traffic will be video by 2020.

There are also some interesting behaviours which come with mobile video that make it a different beast for content creators and potentially marketers to grapple with. These include dealing with issues such as discoverability – one of the many benefits of Facebook’s new Watch product.

So, what is it?

Put simply, Facebook Watch creates a unique video channel for every one of its users – that’s 16 million new and personalised TV channels across Australia populated with your favourite shows and video you never knew existed from around the world.

Available on the Facebook mobile app, Watch creates a one-stop-shop to allow users to discover video from the pages they already like (via the Watchlist feed at the top of the app), as well as surfacing other videos they are likely to be interested in in the Feed itself.

Users can now save videos they are interested in but don’t have time to view as they scroll through their Feed, to view later in Watch.

Watch pulls in all kinds of video from across Facebook, from professionally-created shows from mainstream news providers and other well-known content makers, to viral video sensations from the likes of BuzzFeed, professionally-curated sporting highlights to the other surprise and delight content people tune into social media for every day like the musings of George Takei.

Facebook has also been investing in original programming as well testing out a range of formats, including shows like Sorry for Your Loss, an episodic drama series with high production values which would not look out of place in an HBO line-up.

In short, it’s a mixture of professionally produced content and the best of the community-generated content you know and love.

But it’s all watched on a small screen, right?

It’s not limited to viewing on a mobile phone. Facebook Watch has been designed so video can easily be streamed onto a large screen via devices like Apple TV and Chromecast, making it a platform for lean-back as well as lean-in video experiences.

Beyond that, Watch is also pioneering a more social video experience, building communities around content. People want to share in an enthralling viewing experience with their friends at the same time, even if they are not in the same room. Watch is social video, giving people around the world a new way to discover great videos and interact with friends, creators and other fans.

Does anyone use it?

While Watch was only released in Australia (and the rest of the world) at the end of August, it has been running in the US for a year now.

According to Facebook’s head of video, Fidji Simo: “Every month, more than 50 million people in the US come to watch videos for at least a minute in Watch, and total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14 times since the start of 2018.”

What are the brand opportunities?

Platforms like Watch and IGTV on Instagram are creating new viewing habits around the mobile environment, bringing more long-form content to the platforms. This creates better organic and paid opportunities for brands and publishers to get even closer to their consumers, as well as more sound-on ad placements.

In terms of organic reach, Watch is open to content which meets some quality-assurance benchmarks.

Unverified brand pages will only show up in the Watch Feed for everyone if they have more than 5,000 fans, although their content will still show up in the feeds of any person who follows that page.

This opens up a whole new audience reach potential for brands creating video for their Facebook channels, and makes gaining a loyal fanbase more important than ever.

Watch also allows publishers and creators to place ads within their content via an auto-insertion tool, or alternatively, Facebook will automatically select the best placement for ads in the videos.

Unlike a standard ad break, in-stream (or mid-roll ads) run at least 60 seconds into a video, when viewer engagement is heightened. They can run for up to 15 seconds and are non-skippable, with research demonstrating that 70 per cent of mid-roll ads are viewed to completion on Facebook.

Facebook has deliberately limited the ad loads during videos and how far apart they are. Ultimately, this makes for a better consumer experience, putting them in a more receptive frame of mind for consuming advertiser messages, and a less-cluttered brand environment.

Importantly, this also means people watch ads to completion, and with the sound on.

Is it brand safe?

Facebook is putting a huge emphasis on making Watch a highly-curated and brand-safe environment for advertisers.

There are a few different ways they are doing this, such as limiting the pages that will show up in general feeds until they reach certain benchmarks, and adding a heavy emphasis on human curation to ensure the video is high-quality content.

There are also stringent guidelines for publishers to meet before they are able to monetise their video content with ad breaks. They will only qualify if they have been  creating  three-minute  videos  that  have  generated  more  than  30,000  one minute  views  in  total  over  the  past  two  months,  have  10,000  Facebook  followers and  meet the Monetisation  Eligibility Standards.

Facebook is also trialling new technology which will mean marketers can upload whitelists of publishers and pages they are happy for their ads to appear in.

What is the advertising format?

Currently video on Watch is displayed in 16:9 format – the same format that people are used to watching on their TV screens, and how most content is currently created.

Tools like Placement Asset Customisation enable you to upload your feed-ready assets, your  Stories assets, and your standard 16:9  assets that you’re probably running across other channels, and will automatically serve the right format to the right person in the right placement at the right time.

Of course, vertical video is on the rise, and as more creators start making videos in vertical formats (especially given the rise of IGTV on Instagram), advertising options in these formats will be made available.

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