Grabbing Attention: How Facebook Realized and Capitalized on Consumer Appetite for Video - eMarketer

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Grabbing Attention: How Facebook Realized and Capitalized on Consumer Appetite for Video

May 10, 2016

Head of Global Partner Activation, Brand

Video consumption on social platforms has grown dramatically over the past few years, a trend that Facebook is fueling with the release of its live-stream capabilities, according to Matthew Corbin, head of global partner activation and brand at Facebook, who is presenting at eMarketer’s Attention! London conference on June 7. eMarketer’s Sean Creamer spoke with Corbin about how Facebook has followed the demands of its users, which has led to products that brands can use to connect with potential audiences.

eMarketer: Why has Facebook decided to focus so heavily on mobile-first functions?

Matthew Corbin: After we made the shift to mobile about three years ago, the focus for us has been on meeting consumers where they are, which is on mobile. We fundamentally don’t believe that the shift to mobile is happening; it’s happened. Ultimately marketers, advertisers, media companies, properties and consumers are broadcasting themselves, and with the recent launch of Live [which is a way users can post videos of themselves in real time], we think about that in the context of the massive industry shift to mobile. And that also shifts to a lot of in-app viewership of content and digitalization.

“Live was one of the biggest engagements we’ve seen on our video product, which is why we’ve focused so much on the product recently.”

eMarketer: Considering the popularity of Live through brands such as BuzzFeed and their watermelon and rubber band video, how does Facebook scale this offering to brands? [Editor’s Note: The watermelon and rubber band video is just what it sounds like—stretching rubber bands around a watermelon until it explodes.]

Corbin: We have the ability to make consumers and brands live broadcasters. I would say we are focused far more on the consumer side of the equation. Every ad unit that we’ve built at Facebook within the past several years takes the consumer lens in mind first.

Facebook believes that people and appointment viewership is something that still is needed in the industry. From the Live perspective, we are just beginning to test out what models would look like. Live was one of the biggest engagements we’ve seen on our video product, which is why we’ve focused so much on the product recently.

There are some brands I can’t disclose that are starting to play around with what that looks like. And you probably are also aware of some of our branded content happening on the platform, [such as] Creative Shop and others. And so we believe there is a big place to play there.

eMarketer: How has Facebook responded to consumer yearnings for sharable video content?

Corbin: Over the past year and a half to two years, we’ve seen a massive rise of visual content on Facebook. And what I mean by visual content is all visual content—but especially people wanting to engage with video. About 100 million hours of video are now being watched on Facebook. What we’re also seeing is that sharing and creative is happening more; in fact, to a degree that we’re seeing three times more on video than we were even just one year ago. People want more and more video. People want to be engaged with sight, sound and motion, and we need to meet the consumer where they are.

“What we’re also seeing is that sharing and creative is happening more.”

We recently asked if we push video to consumers, and the answer is we actually will deliver consumers exactly what they want based on how they’re consuming things in the [Facebook] News Feed. And what we are seeing across Facebook is just a massive rise in terms of the desire to have video distributed.

eMarketer: Seeing that in-feed video on Facebook doesn’t have audio playing initially, how have brands adapted to silent, automatically playing video?

Corbin: This is all about grabbing attention, what we call “thumb-stopping” creative. We need to pull the user in and grab the user’s attention. Recently we launched auto-captioning, which addresses some of the things that you’re talking about. What we are finding is brands and marketers and even media platforms really need to grab that consumer, to pull the user into an experience.

Creative is our biggest opportunity to grab the user and bring them into an experience, whether that is sound-on or sound-off. Brands, marketers and agencies are seeing a lot of success by focusing on creative that is mobile-optimized. And mobile-optimized for us means that if you’re thinking about how you’ve built TV feeds in the past, brands are applying the same dedication to designing their content to be mobile-first.

For more insights from Matthew Corbin, join eMarketer at our upcoming half-day event, Attention! London on June 7, where he will be presenting.

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