Facebook Watch takes big steps in global video-on-demand market

The social media giant is creating advertising opportunities for video content producers in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand
30 August 2018

A fresh round of bad PR threatens a new start to the year. Source: AFP

Facebook isn’t just competing with other social media networks. The company understands its users and their preference for video content. As a result, it debuted Watch, a video streaming service in the US almost a year ago.

Now, the service has been rolled out worldwide — allowing the company to compete with Google’s YouTube, Amazon’s Prime Video, BBC’s iPlayer, and global video-on-demand leader Netflix.

What’s really key is that Facebook plans to allow all video content creators to feature advertising breaks, so long as they hit certain metrics. “We’re expanding our Ad Breaks program so more partners can make money from their videos,” said Facebook’s Head of Video Fidji Simo.

To be eligible, a Page should have created 3-minute videos that accumulated 30,000 1-minute views in total over the past two months, have 10,000 followers, and meet Facebook’s Monetization Eligibility Standards.

For now, Ad Breaks are available in the US, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Next month, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden will be eligible, among many others.

The big advertising opportunity

“Every month, more than 50 million people in the US come to watch videos for at least a minute on Watch — and total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14X since the start of 2018,” said Simo.

That’s a big opportunity for content creators, but also a huge opportunity for advertisers because of the kind of platform and ad format that Ad Breaks feature.

Ad Breaks currently include both mid-roll and pre-roll formats as well as image ads directly below the video – and whenever an Ad Break is shown the publisher or creator earns a share of the resulting revenue.

The revenue split, according to BBC, will be 55 percent to the creators and 45 percent to Facebook.

Publishers and creators can use the ads auto-insertion feature, where Facebook automatically selects the best placement for the ads in their videos, or they can select the potential placements themselves.

“More than 70 percent of mid-roll ads are viewed to completion on Facebook,” according to Facebook’s Project Management Directors Maria Smith and Paresh Rajwat.

Over the past year, Facebook has fine-tuned the experience to make it more social — making it easier to see which videos your friends have liked or shared, creating shows that have audience participation at their core, and opening Watch to videos from Pages.

These updates have helped users discover and engage more deeply with videos they love — from Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, to beauty mogul Huda Kattan’s behind-the-scenes show Huda Boss, to live Major League Baseball games.

The company hopes users will watch more than 1 minute long videos on its platform, eventually competing with Netflix and other video-on-demand players.

Currently, shows like Red Table Talk and Tom vs Time, and the upcoming Sorry For Your Loss have hundreds of thousands of fans already — and the global launch is expected to grow their following exponentially.

From the looks of it, Facebook is betting big on video content, which might help the company win big and bolster revenues in coming quarters.