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“Watch” Out, YouTube! What Brands Can Expect for Facebook’s New Video Platform

Over the last couple of months, rumors have been circulating about Facebook’s development of a video platform designed to compete with major streaming services—like Netflix—and traditional TV. Those rumors were partially confirmed yesterday when Facebook published a blog post announcing Watch, “a new platform for shows on Facebook.” However, this new video hub is designed to compete more directly with YouTube than any of the other previously reported platforms. Reports from Buzzfeed and Business Insider also confirmed that Watch would be rolling out with a few dozen shows.

The Facebook Watch tab on a Mobile Device.

The Facebook Watch tab on a Mobile Device.

So what is Facebook Watch?

Advertisers are probably wondering how this new addition to Facebook differs from their current video offerings. Facebook describes Watch as a platform “…comprised of shows…made up of episodes – live or recorded…like a weekly cooking show, a daily vlog, or a set of videos with recurring characters or themes.”

We’ve previously written on the blog about Facebook’s tendency to go for its direct competitors by “copying” exactly what they do. Facebook’s description of Watch sounds remarkably familiar to current-reigning internet video giant, YouTube, and there are some key features that basically confirm this.

Key “YouTube-Like” Features

1. Everyone will be able to upload shows to Watch, but not right away:
Facebook describes Watch as a platform for all creators and publishers. While initially shows won’t be available to everyone, it appears that Facebook intends to allow anyone to upload shows to the platform in the future. A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future. So, there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.”

2. Show creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks:
Like YouTube, shows will have ad breaks and show creators will take home 55% of the money generated during those breaks from brands and advertisers (Facebook will keep the remaining 45%, the same as YouTube). Creators can also partner with brands to create sponsored shows and keep all of that money.

3. An emphasis on building communities between fans and creators:
While the concept of communities is not unique to YouTube, the relationships creators make with their audiences are arguably strongest on YouTube over other platforms. While announcing Watch, Facebook repeatedly shared their desire for the platform to bring creators and fans together. In fact, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg shared, “We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video. Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive . . . You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.” Facebook plans to build this community through comments, use of an algorithm to suggest shows based off of users’ interests and connections, and through the integration of Facebook Groups into Watch.

Facebook Watch on a Desktop/Laptop browser.

Facebook Watch on a Desktop/Laptop browser.

What Does this Mean for Brands?

Watch will be available on Facebook’s mobile app, desktop and laptop, and their TV apps. And with 236 million active users in the US and Canada (2 billion worldwide), it’s very likely that a brand’s target audience will be viewing shows on Watch.

And, Facebook is aiming to do what it does best – provide a curated, personalized view for users. Facebook indicated it will take advantage of its 2 billion users’ interests and connections so that it’s algorithm can suggest specific kinds of shows to users. While the use of an algorithm within Watch appears to be designed to improve user experience, it is safe to say that it is also an indicator that Facebook will let advertisers use its robust targeting tools to place ads within Watch in front of their desired audiences.

Brands who continue spending on Facebook and invest in ad placements within Watch will likely see an increase in working media efficiencies, just as we’ve seen with brands buying inventory in aggregate on Facebook and Instagram. The consolidation of offerings usually seen across multiple social platforms into Facebook should also help to streamline production/non-working costs since content can be produced for fewer mediums.

With the introduction of monetized shows, we can also expect creators and publishers making content for YouTube and other platforms to transition to Facebook. Advertisers will have more opportunities to develop and sponsor content with influencers more efficiently. And, truly innovative brands may want to consider exploring opportunities to create their own episodes or content on Watch.

Do you have any questions about this latest Facebook update or how to make the most of your social media strategy? Drop us a line!

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Luigi Mondi

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