For some years now social media has focused on short-form video. Why? To capture short attention spans. This is changing. Younger audiences, in particular, are ready to watch longer videos on their favourite social media platforms. Platforms such as Facebook are adapting and innovating with new services that advertisers will love.

A chart which displays the percentage of social media users who would watch their favourite TV shows on social media

Looking at the benefits of each type of video will give us an insight into why advertisers may target each specific kind of content. If long-form content is becoming more popular, why is that and how will it benefit advertisers?

Short-form video

  • Good for short attention spans. (Shorter videos tend to get higher completion rates – % of your video the average viewer watches).
  • Useful for teasing content.
  • Great for announcements. (Short video gets the message across quicker).

Long-form video:

  • More room to tell a story. This gives you a better chance of creating an emotional connection with your audience. For example, a Google video ad experiment highlighted in-depth storytelling which created “a more meaningful connection to the brand”. Rather than simply raising brand awareness, a longer story may lead people to fall in love with your brand.
  • Perfect for educating your audience. Useful at different points in the customer journey, such as before and after they’ve bought a product.

Facebook has been heavily criticised in recent years for inflating metrics, especially video views. If we look at Facebook’s breakdown of what actually counts as a video view, it only takes 3 seconds of a user watching a video to count as a view. Facebook video product manager, Matt Pakes, defended this criticism by stating that this is enough time for a viewer to indicate “intent to watch”.

But with the introduction of Watch, Facebook’s new dedicated video-on-demand service, users can find all their favourite long-form video shows in one place. Home to shows such as Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Red Table Talk and Ball in the Family, this platform has been extremely popular since it’s initial launch in August 2017. Facebook recently reported that over 400 million people use Watch monthly.

Facebook sign on a wall

What does this mean for advertising?

Facebook Watch has highly valuable benefits for advertisers.

Ad Breaks: similar to the commercial breaks between a TV show, these ads roll throughout the video at various intervals. Users must watch the full ad to proceed with the video. This ad format is available to be used on any video on Watch with a running time of over 3 minutes, so long as the publisher has been generating over 30,000 one minute views overall within the past two months and has over 10,000 followers. This means advertisers can be sure their ads are reaching an active engaged audience. The longer the video the more interested the viewer is. Therefore they are less likely to click off the video if an ad pops up at the start or throughout. This is what makes Watch the perfect place for advertisers to capture an audience’s attention.

Influencer and Creator Shift: the launch of Facebook Watch has given influencers another strong channel to post their content. This may prove to be more beneficial than YouTube for some of them, as the Facebook Watch pattern is less search-orientated, allowing content to be shown in the subscriber’s News Feed along with the rest of their usual updates from friends and interests. This allows influencers to become more connected to their fans, and also means advertisers can take advantage of this.

Smaller Brands

It may not be attainable for smaller brands to get their adverts placed on Facebook Watch. However, there are other methods of advertising available when it comes to long-form video. These include retargeting ads and paid partnership posts with influencers. Publishers on Watch have been pushing Facebook for sponsorships, another potential opportunity for advertisers to benefit from longer form content.

Facebook Live gives influencers and personalities the opportunity to connect with their audience in real time. With this comes the option for them to take an ad break during their livestream. This means advertisers can have their ads placed in 15 second slots throughout the break. These ad breaks are available to Facebook livestreams with 300 or more simultaneous viewers from pages with over 2,000 followers. This is a perfect alternative for smaller brands, who may not be able to attain a placement on Facebook Watch.

According to Hootsuite data, users on Facebook have a longer attention span than any other social media platform. Facebook’s algorithm favours “valuable” content that people will have discussions about and come back to. Long-form video content should focus on capturing emotions of viewers and so should the advertising that comes along with it.

As Facebook Watch is still in its infancy, we’ll have to see what the future holds for this long-form video content platform. We can’t wait!