Is social television next for Facebook? Or, maybe, just good ol’ television.
One could certainly draw that inference judging from comments made February 1 by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg during the company’s Fourth Quarter 2016 earnings announcement.
More video, he suggested, longer form video, more original video and original content. Hmmm, sounds like Netflix or Amazon or HBO or the traditional TV broadcast networks or, even, the movie studios. And don’t for a minute discount virtual reality television. Zuckerberg on his own Iron Throne.
“We’re looking for ways to grow the ecosystem of video content on Facebook,” Zuckerberg told the 4Q 2016 earnings call. “We want people to think of Facebook as a place for interesting and relevant video content from professional creators as well as their friends. Last year we started to invest in more original video content to help seed the ecosystem, and we’re planning to do more in 2017.”
And overall, said the Zuck, we can expect Facebook to be more and more and more all about video.
“I’ve said before that I see video as a mega trend on the same order as mobile,” he said. “That’s why we’re going to keep putting video first across our family of apps and making it easier for people to capture and share video in new ways.
“To make it easier to find and watch videos, we’ve added a tab at the bottom of the Facebook app with top videos and recommendations. We’ve already rolled the tab out to everyone in the U.S., and we’re planning to bring it to more countries soon.
“We’re also improving live video as more people use it. New Year’s Eve was our biggest live moment ever, with more people going live than at any other time since we launched the product. We’re experimenting with live 360 video, audio-only live for people with slower connections, and live face masks and more camera effects and we’ll have more updates soon.”
All is based on advertising – but did a bomb just explode?
Prefacing all of this expansion – and a strategy upon which it is built – is first and foremost: advertising sales.
Facebook reported in its 4Q 2016 earnings call $8.5 billion in revenue in that last quarter alone. That figure not only blew the top off expectations but was also a 53 percent increase over 4Q 2015. Most of that revenue – 84 percent – came from sales of advertising to its mobile apps. Together Facebook and Google account for over half of all digital advertising sales.
Facebook has already started experimenting with what it calls “mid-roll” video ads and increasing advertising on Instagram. Sounds like a traditional television commercial if placed in the context of an originally produced Facebook TV show.
But this is not to say advertisers – or for that matter, content publishers who expect to share in the largess – are necessarily happy with the current state of digital advertising and commerce.
First, a report from a trade group, Digital Content Next, suggests publishers on the major social networks are not getting paid as much by the networks as they hoped – maybe promised.
Second – and even more important and explosive – is the bombshell dropped January 29 by Proctor & Gamble, the world’s biggest spender in advertising on all media.
P&G’s chief brand officer told the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Hollywood, Florida his company will start enforcing new rules on digital ad platforms designed to ensure greater accountability and audits of actual ad performance.
Advertising Age reported the new P&G rules will include “a thorough review of all media-agency contracts after the company found a surprise in its dealings with at least one agency, plus requirements that everyone use industry-standard viewability metrics, fraud protection and third-party verification.”
In other words, the world’s biggest advertiser just insisted digital advertising platforms – like Facebook and Google – prove as many consumers are seeing the ads they sell as they claim are seeing them.
P&G’s strike with Thor’s hammer could very well send shock waves throughout the digital advertising ecosystem and have astounding implications throughout the industry.