Facebook Watch

Watch Out: Facebook Watch Launches

August 3, 2017by hiebing2021

In a July 2016 earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prophesized where social content was headed. “We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services,” Zuckerberg said.

Since then, Facebook has worked furiously to enable and promote video, rolling out the ability to broadcast live video (thanks, Meerkat and Periscope), introducing disappearing stories (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Snapchat), building new ad units (welcome, in-stream video) and making subtle UX changes (pop-out video so users can continue to watch while they scroll).

Facebook has undoubtedly done much to encourage its users to create video, but producing video of its own may be Facebook’s biggest gamble yet.

Introducing Facebook Watch 

Facebook’s leap into original content will culminate with the launch of a new tab called Watch. Watch will function as an online television network of sorts, airing original pre-recorded and live content free of charge (at least for now) on the Facebook platform.

While Snapchat already nabbed some of the top-tier publishers for its Discover section, Facebook has signed deals with big-name influencers (David Lopez), celebrities (Mike Rowe), TV stations (National Geographic) and sports leagues (MLB) to develop its programming slate. Facebook is also letting creators apply to be part of the next wave of programming by pitching their ideas for shows.

If all goes according to plan, Facebook will be giving its users another reason to check in and stay on the platform for longer while feeding their hunger for more video content. Plus, with its monolithic audience and a stout commenting system, Facebook looks to unseat Twitter as king of live TV conversation.

What Watch Means for Advertisers

Of course, with more video comes the opportunity to deliver more video-based paid content.

When Watch first rolls out, advertisers will only be able to get their foot in the door by checking the in-stream placement option when they create campaigns through Ads Manager. (In-stream ads are five-to-15 second, mid-roll videos that play within shows or other long-format videos [more than 90 seconds].)

Still, there is then only the possibility that your ad will appear during a Watch show. Your campaign, however, will not run exclusively on Watch, but will also appear across a multitude of video deployments, including in feed.

The short of it is this—your investment is a bit of a gamble. You’re going to get brand exposure, you just don’t know where or to whom.

Facebook says that during the initial phases there will be no way of limiting the placements of your ads to particular channels, though there are plans to introduce a new unit called Ad Breaks (aka commercials) as the platform evolves.

As Watch slowly starts to come online, it’ll be worth tuning in to see how it fares in the increasingly crowded space of online video. Welcome to the continued evolution of TV 2.0.

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