The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Olivia Atkins, Writer

October 30, 2018 | 5 min read

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Video as a “trend” and “putting video first” has been a very public ambition for Facebook. These words from Mark Zuckerberg spell out how he sees Facebook as a video-first company in the future. However, in a Future of Video breakfast panel held by The Drum, it seemed marketers’ interest in using Facebook Live had dithered with some panelists even revealing that they no longer considered it a vital component in their video content strategy.

Panel discussion

Future of Video breakfast panel

Today’s average viewer has an attention span of just eight seconds, something Ogilvy’s head of creative & content, Christopher Wall, attributes to Facebook, where ads are becoming increasingly shorter. He admitted he hated Facebook because “it limits what everyone can do in that medium.” Telling a story in just ten seconds is difficult, leading many creatives to question whether they should continue pursuing this format. YouTube for instance, allows marketers much more freedom although equally can’t guarantee the exposure, according to him.

Nadav Shmuel, CEO at Precise TV, agreed: “Facebook puts pressure on storytellers to be relevant” as they know that they’re competing to win consumers’ attention. He went on to add: “We’re over the tipping point when it comes to FB feed with dogs on a skateboard... we all want content in some context.”

Choosing between long-form vs short-form

It’s true that video is the most captivating medium, but as the format continues to shorten, does this mean that the quality of content is being compromised? Head of content at a digital publisher aimed at young men, JOE, Evan Fanning, said that viewers are actively seeking out content that has substance. “In spite of Facebook’s model” he said, “consumers are leaning more towards longer-form pieces. People are fed up with scrolling [on social media]. They want to engage with something that enriches them.”

The battle between creating longer, quality pieces or churning out digestible, bite size videos is rife, with our panelists at loggerheads as to whether quality over quantity actually matters.

According to Wall, viewers are so used to receiving endless marketing messages that while they might think they want something more engaging and enriching to chew on, they’re also looking for something they can quickly and easily understand. “Humans are getting lazier,” said Wall. “Which is why video is increasingly becoming the platform of choice for many, because it’s easy to engage with.” The panelists agreed and collectively also emphasised the importance of making videos contextually-relevant.

Wall reminded the audience that “content has to be fit for purpose” and created with a specific platform in mind, otherwise it’s likely to fall flat. Meanwhile Fanning admitted that a lack of support from Facebook have meant that is posting less on Facebook Live than what it did two or three years ago. “I don’t think there’s much value in it anymore, at least on the publisher side,” he said, revealing that they prefer to use Twitter Live instead.

Future trends

Meanwhile the demand to create content has never been so high, added Fanning and revealed: “Platforms like Facebook are begging us for episodic content.” Where previously the JOE publisher would create a standalone podcast, now they are required to film and post the session too; as Fanning revealed that audiences want to see a more 360-degree approach.

But he cautioned that marketers need to think about the sort of eyes that are watching these pieces and assess whether these count as quality views. In light of the news around Facebook’s over-inflated figures, marketers should establish their own metrics to work out how successful a campaign is, said Fanning.

All the panelists, meanwhile, expected vertical video to continue evolving at an equally aggressive rate, so long as the content is relevant and suited to the audience it’s targeting.

For the time being, video is here to stay although brands will no doubt be kept on their toes and expected to work out the new formats and best platforms to distribute their content.

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