Facebook's explosive growth in video will be sullied if its viewing metrics are not up to task, claims Bevan Thomas, commercial director of video marketplace Newsflare, he adds "if you can’t trust it, it's not useful".
Talking to The Drum, Thomas explains how Facebook can up its game, how it has pushed 360 video into the spotlight and how content creators are finally getting their dues.
Facebook has been increasing its video output. As a global video market place for user generated content, how are you cutting up content for that?
About two years ago, Facebook said it was going to focus massively on video. In a matter of months that went from being almost nowhere, as a major player, to surpassing YouTube in terms of views.
Moving to today, they are a dominant platform for video globally. Facebook helps itself with the fact that its metric reviewers are much shorter and have a lower threshold than other platforms but it doesn't take away from the fact, in a very short space of time, they have almost become the number one player.
When you look at trends to follow like 360 video, at Newsflare, we are doing a little bit of work with this and are seeing more interest particularly with publishers. I would be very skeptical of it having any real mass market adoption, if it weren't for the fact that Facebook is so focused on it. They have shown time and time again, that there are things that have been around before, other people have tried to push them and not much has come to it, like Live for example.
Are you happy with the data that FB is providing on its metrics?
In a lot of areas, they have a bit of catching up to do. One of the areas that was an issue was its tool to manage copyright. For a long time they didn't have that and took a backseat in policing what content people where publishing, whether they owned it or not.
Going from no tools 12 months ago, they have now launched tools to help people police content. It's still quite a simplistic tool but they are rolling out improvements to it all the time, which will help content owners understand where their content is being used, if not actively remove it.
In terms of analytics, what is important is people trusting the numbers that are coming out. There have been multiple instances in the last 12 months, the numbers that are given to you give a lot of information but if you can’t trust it, it's not useful.
What do you think the key trends are for video right now?
We are seeing a lot more brands using user-generated content (UGC), both in a traditional sense as a component of above the line campaigns but also, as brands are increasingly getting their heads around it in a social world. They need to think more like a publisher than a traditional campaign based approach, which is how a lot of brands are more comfortable communicating with their potential clients/audience.
That's a real shift and has gotten to the point where we are literally talking to brands who are big social publishers about supplying them content in the same way we would a traditional news organisation or a big social publisher like The LadBible or UniLad.
People are realising that it doesn't necessarily have to all be bought in terms of eyeballs when you’re trying to talk to an audience. It can be earned and there is another way you can go about it. But if you are doing that, you need content that is engaging people and not just necessarily yourself and your product.
What has the reception of 360 video been like?
It's a great example of something new that's really exciting. But wide adoption of it is probably a far bit off. Particularly for news content, a really immersive experience, putting yourself in a giving place and a giving point of time, for example, the hurricanes that are lashing the Caribbean and the US right now, 360 would appear to be a hugely powerful tool in that instance to show people what that experience is like, in a way that almost we could never do before.
If it wasn't for Facebook's big push on this area, it would be hard because not a lot of players, until recently, have supported 360. Once you put it on someone’s mobile and you have a platform like Facebook, which has been built to support it, then the opportunity for the audience to get the most out of it gets much greater.
How has the buying and selling of video changed in the past few years?
The market in the past couple of years has matured massively. Content creators are more aware of the value of what they are creating. Sometimes they expect to see some kind of reward if their content is being used. Where that reward comes from, in a publisher’s point of view, can come in terms of audience and helping them grown their own following. But there needs to be a clear exchange of value both ways.
Many media publications are turning to video, is this indicative of a consumer desire or is it a dangerous move to always replace text with video?
I think you could honestly say that there is a bit of both going on. There is certainly demand. Five or six years ago, an audience’s opportunity to watch video content was a four-hour window at the end of the day but now people are watching content all day every day.
With everybody turning to producing more video, at some point you must reach a saturation and there will be winners and losers in that. The audience can't be everywhere all the time and some people will be more effective at grabbing that. If you're a publisher or a brand, you would surely at least want your cap in that video ring.
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