How Facebook Marketing Videos Are Tuning Out TV

Have you noticed how more and more videos on Facebook feature subtitles so you can stare at them without headphones or cranking the volume in a crowded place? Video is a trending topic in the digital marketing world, constantly evolving and shaping user experience, but we all know that by now. The next step is recognizing which platforms will dominate the contentious video market.

Two years ago, Internet advertising revenue officially overtook broadcast and cable television for the top spot, and it’s highly unlikely that it will ever relinquish that grip. As brands continue to ramp up their Facebook marketing strategies, nothing will matter more than their plans for video. I know in the last few months that I’ve been hypnotized by a lot of those crazy BuzzFeed cooking videos that start playing in your Facebook feed and teach you how to make amazing-looking food in 30 seconds or less. The social media platform has made huge gains across demographics and content types, and 2016 is the year it may supersede not just YouTube but TV as the place to be for video.

Bold Strategy

OK Go, the band that got famous thanks to its breathtakingly creative music videos that it quietly uploaded to YouTube, chose to loudly launch its latest music video exclusively on Facebook. The group posted a video on YouTube diatribing why they were abandoning the platform that made them. Of course, this argument has been made before, but last month’s music video release renewed the gravity of the situation.

As the largest social network in the world, the algorithms Facebook uses to deliver content have an impact in the billions. Their News Feed unabashedly favors content uploaded natively, and 70 percent of the eight billion daily video views on Facebook come from videos posted directly to the platform. That means that the largest gateway to the Internet is algorithm-ing other video publishers out of contention, and it’s bringing ad dollars with it. Instead of talking about online advertising versus television advertising, or Facebook versus YouTube, the conversation may soon be Facebook versus TV.

Tuning In

A recent study by We Are Social showed that in the US, Facebook users over 40 outnumber those under 40 by 17 percent, which makes it a compelling case study for the battle with paid subscription (i.e. cable and satellite) television. While young social networks are filled with users who don’t even have their own addresses to get bills mailed to, Facebook has a mature user base that could easily tune into cable television. But, as 72 percent of ad agencies said that they believe online advertising is as or more effective than TV ads and pretty much the entire Internet says that video is the biggest trend, we know people are increasingly tuning into their computers instead of their television sets. Whether they’re passing the time scrolling through a social feed on their smartphones or streaming shows and movies via an online service, all eyes are online.

We already know that wars are waging among major content providers seeking to absorb the Internet, and with the way Facebook controls the stream of information in News Feed, Facebook marketing is a surefire bet for enterprises that are toiling over where to focus their energy and ad dollars in 2016 (and beyond). With an enormous captive audience that spans all demographics and the ability to fine-tune who sees which ads, there’s no better platform for delivering video.

Screenshot of Facebook video / BuzzFeed food

Just Push Play

Facebook went with autoplay for videos in News Feed, which was a much-discussed move that turned the ritual of scrolling through Facebook into a Harry Potter-esque exercise in moving pictures. Autoplay dramatically levels the playing field between user-generated and paid content, as ads don’t appear as annoyances before videos a la YouTube nor as interruptions in content delivery on TV. Instead, they’re part of the vertical scrolling experience and fit neatly into the way people use the platform on desktop and mobile. And, because Facebook has a wealth of data about its users and know what people want to see, the video ads are so targetted that they rarely feel like ads.

Interrupt ads can manifest two ways—either interrupting the delivery of content by appearing as a popup or commercial, or by showing up in the middle of a fluid downward scroll through a News Feed—and neither of these is desirable. DVR was one of the first forms of backlash against interrupt ads (read: commercials); people would just record shows then fast-forward. Now, streaming shows online has significantly limited the potential for traditional television advertising altogether. The pressure is on enterprises to deliver higher quality content through new channels.

The huge advantage of Facebook as a platform for delivering video ads is that a well-placed, high-value native content piece can be integrated so subtly into the feed that users are actually grateful it was there. I’ve watched countless New York Times videos in my News Feed, only to realize after they’re over that they were paid for by The Times, not shared by my friends. When the headline is relevant to your interests and the first five seconds show promise, it’s easy to click the video to unmute it and find out what exactly they’re saying about that topic you actually care about.

In fact, I probably learn half of what I learn any given day thanks to paid content in my News Feed. And while that might sound scary, it comes off as more of a convenience that cost the publisher money instead of me. I don’t have to subscribe to a periodical or click out of Facebook, which the social network sees as a total win-win. Receiving high-quality video from trusted sources without clicking out of my mindless Facebook breaks is pretty dang nice (and actually makes me feel a little less embarrassed about those times when I’m already on Facebook then type “F” into my search bar because I want to be entertained by visiting Facebook).

Here it Goes Again

We’ve reached a perfect storm for enterprises looking to expand their video and Facebook marketing efforts in 2016. As video continues to offer the highest potential and Facebook is moving toward usurping television (and, uh, that other video platform, too) as the preferred place to watch video content, it is a strong value proposition for those seeking maximum ROI in a video marketing campaign. Don’t just take my word for it—these guys know a thing or two about classy paid ads, and they say so, too.

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