Facebook to marketers: ‘We’re better together with TV – not apart’

Facebook says it doesn’t want to force marketers to choose to between spending budgets on its own video ads or on TV, trumpeting recently launched services as proof the two channels are stronger together, not apart.

“There may be a day when most of the video that you see may be on Facebook’s Newsfeed,” said Facebook’s global lead for product marketing Matthew Corbin. To get there, the world’s largest social network is trying to temper claims it wants to steal TV budgets away from TV and instead wants advertisers to think of it as a way of extending the reach of TV.

It’s the crux of the pitch for the target rating points (TVR) buying it’s introducing to help marketers better plan video campaigns across TV and Facebook. It’s the company's play to do what its peers have struggled to do for years; establish a genuinely consistent measurement system. Nielsen has been brought on board and will use its digital ad ratings and total ad ratings system to verify the delivery for Facebook and television combined.

In a nutshell, it's a starting point for Facebook to have unfiied discusion and buying process for video. However, it won't be where the socil network will end up long-term.

“This isn’t about TV versus Facebook versus digital video,” said Corbin at Facebook’s IAB Digital Upfronts today (19 October). “It’s not an either/or. With Facebook, we have an opportunity to be almost prime-time anytime, with users choosing to engage with video.”

Despite claims to be TV-friendly, Facebook’s gamble could set it up to snare more TV ad budgets because the TVR system juxtaposes the performance of the social network's video ads against TV spots. A study across 17 UK campaigns found that there was an 11 per cent incremental uplift when Facebook and TV are combined together.

“The reality is that while TV has stayed relatively strong at about one to two per cent decline in the last two years, what we’re seeing is 300 per cent growth in video,” said Corbin. “People are consuming seven hours of content in a five-hour timeframe – on multiple different screens all at one time.”

Consequently, the social network is allowing brands to target its users with sequenced creative that can nudge them through the funnel.

In order to give marketers the confidence to think in this mobile-first way, Facebook is looking externally for measuring ad effectiveness, most recently partnering with Millward Brown. Marketers can gain insight into campaign impact with measures such as brand and ad awareness as well message association and brand favourability on Facebook and Instagram.

“We humbly know that there’s this world of TV that’s been around for 50 years that’s measured and tested. We’re working very hard to understand this whole idea of comparability,” said Corbin. One of the challenges Facebook faces, he admitted is being able to translate its personalisation at scale message into “TV currency”.

“For years we have not, in the digital space, been building the digital structure needed to be able to do video across platforms and that has held up monies and also made it difficult in terms of how we’re able to work with agencies and advertisers," he continued. "Ultimately, what this means is users do have choice.”

But efforts to do this will fall at the first hurdle unless Facebook, agencies and marketers are addressing the right tension points. A key point for resolution is whether there is a difference between online video and TV, a point that generated mixed opinions among agency executives on a panel at the Digital Upfront session.

“The activity across devices is fairly similar so we don’t need to be looking at mobile and TV [as separate channels],” said Stefan Jansen business director at Mindshare. “I think it still comes down to content. I don’t think we need to consider them totally different. Video can work across platforms.

Peter Buckley, head of strategy at MEC, argued that the industry needs to show that there is a significant difference or risk underselling the effectiveness of mobile media. “I think once we start to talk about online vide as the same as TV and it gets tarred with the TV brush and then people think it’s ok to use a 30 second ad [on mobile] and expect the same things as TV when its completely different,” he continued.

“We need to get away from thinking that online video is the same as TV. You never think that press and outdoor are the same just because they both include text and I think it’s the same with video.”

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