At the end of August Facebook announced it was making its Watch video streaming service available to worldwide audiences. Facebook Watch first launched in the US a year ago and it is the social channel’s move to compete in long-form content with the likes of Google’s YouTube. Despite securing some interesting creators and strong original video content industry reports suggest that it has a way to go yet attracting consistently regular viewers.
It seems that Facebook Watch has gone somewhat unnoticed by creators and viewers alike, due to a lack of marketing on Facebook’s part and I’d like to see them do more to spread the word now it’s available in Europe. Signing new production companies and creators will provide a variety of video content to bring viewers on board – with choice comes attraction – and the inclusion of some engaging social features like Watch Parties, Premiers, and a gameshow platform gives Watch a unique edge. As a viewer I love the idea that I could interact with my friends or other fans, or even connect to the creators themselves while I’m watching a show.
The international roll out also comes with the availability of “Ad Breaks” to a wider group of publishers, those who have a certain level of followers or video views, among other eligibility criteria, enabling them to monetize their content. And here is where the opportunity lies for brands too. “Ad Breaks” consist of either mid-roll or pre-roll ads or images below the video and publishers can post ads themselves or use Facebook’s automated ad tool.
As part of the global launch, Facebook has also launched its video management tool Creator Studios. This loyalty insights tool will be a very big selling point for creators to help them gain a better understanding of how well or poorly their content is performing, and consequently help them attract more advertising, or even potentially sponsorship further down the line.
Facebook could do with a better targeting algorithm for those who actually show an interest in watching video content, similar to that which we would use for video advertising. This is of importance when an audience is already watching a video and being interrupted by another video mid-roll. This can become hugely frustrating to the point when a user might scroll down and give up watching video altogether and I don’t feel Facebook has done a good enough job explaining or marketing this aspect of the service.
There’s not been much useful data released on viewing stats or the performance of ads on channel to date and this needs to be addressed but overall I think Facebook makes an ideal platform for watching long-form content. I’m certain that we’ll see advertisers getting involved soon, it is Facebook after all.
They have already successfully stolen stories from Snapchat. Can they actually take the video scene from YouTube? Only time will tell.