According to Facebook, 8 billion videos are now viewed on its platform every day. This is double the amount of views it was receiving in April and this is even more impressive when you consider that YouTube only has around 1 billion video views daily.
This is an amazing stat but there are a few caveats. Firstly, Facebook counts a view as anyone who’s watched for more than 3 seconds. Facebook also prioritises video in news feeds as well as auto playing them. So, that 3 seconds could easily be someone scrolling over the video in order to move down their newsfeed rather than actually watching.
YouTube itself has tried to move away from the number of views and instead is focusing on the number of minutes/hours spent watching videos on its network. The metrics for YouTube are a lot more defined as to watch a video you have to engage (click) whereas with Facebook there’s no way of determining whether the view was active or passive. The problem Facebook has is that currently with it’s newsfeed style format, its video content is better suited to short form videos and this is something Mark Zuckerberg has addressed recently, “The more natural starting point for us is shorter form content.”
Our attention spans are incredibly short now, indeed a recent study by Microsoft suggests it’s currently around 8 seconds, which is backed up by the top 20 videos on Facebook averaging around 1 minute in length. Companies have to get a bit more savvy with the videos they produce. Detailed walk troughs or virtual tours may not be the best option for Facebook.
Whilst the stats are suggest short form videos can work well for Facebook marketers it’s worth noting that a number of some innovative brands including, Johnnie Walker and Canada Goose have gone against the grain by creating long form ads which have given them the platform to tell a story. Through this they are far more likely to emotionally connect with their audiences.
How does Facebook compare to YouTube
YouTube allows you to target users based on what they’re searching for and also interests. This is great if you want to target those looking for a particular subject or category. For example, you could promote the Game of Thrones slot game to those users looking for or who have previously shown an interest in Game of Thrones.
The beauty of Facebook is that it allows for a huge amount of detail with it’s targeting which can mean better conversion rates. You could target the fans of other operators or you could target based on demographics such as age, sex and even education or relationship status.
A recent study by Reebok and Pixability, which aimed to compare YouTube and Facebook, found that YouTube had a higher view rate (23.6% of people who scrolled past the video viewed it versus Facebook’s 5.4%) and video completion rate (20.4% versus Facebook’s 4.5%) as well as a lower CPV. Facebook had a higher engagement but it’s worth noting that it’s engagement functionality (Likes, Share etc) is very simple and more widely used than that of YouTube’s.
What about Instagram and WhatsApp?
Instagram’s commercial offering is very much on the increase with banner advertising available as well as App Installs and Video views. Instagram has seen phenomenal growth over the last few years and has become a truly world wide channel with 75% of its 400m active users outside the US. It only takes 13 milliseconds to identify an image – 60’000 times faster than with words and so social media channels like Instagram can be incredibly powerful brand tools, particularly when measuring things like brand recall.
Paddy Power uses it to good effect to posting comical images/memes that have strong viral potential. This is a useful brand building tool rather than a direct acquisition driver.
Facebook themselves are trying to make advertising on their platforms a great deal more seamless and so many of the targeting capabilities that you have access to on Facebook are becoming available on Instagram. The channel now also supports up to 30 seconds of video on its platform.
With Facebook’s takeover of the traditional ad-free channel, WhatsApp there are rumblings that brands could soon be able to target users in order to bring in more revenue rather than it’s current model of just being a subscription service. This potentially could result in brands being able to message users via WhatsApp and so this would open up huge potential to the gambling industry.
Real Money Gaming and Facebook
Facebook current stance of course is ads for real money gaming sites and apps are only allowed from approved advertisers through a direct sales partnership. This is in order (so they say) to maintain the quality and compliance of real money gaming related advertising on Facebook.
Traditionally, partnerships between Facebook and real money gaming operators haven’t always worked out. In 2012 Gamesys launched their Bingo & Slots Friendzy real money gaming app on Facebook and this was seen at the time as the start of a real money gaming revolution on social media. This was followed by 888 Holdings and more recently Paddy Power launching their apps. However, all have now been pulled.
Social casino and slot games are hugely popular on Facebook and yet when real money versions are introduced they seem to fall flat. Of course, these operators don’t want to give out too much information as to why their products have failed but the cause appears to be a focused on there being a definite split between social gamers and real money gamers with very little crossover potential. This argument has been backed up by a recent study from the International Social Games Association (ISGA) which looked into whether kids were being ‘groomed’ into playing real-money games following on from the recent surge in popularity of social games on Facebook. Of the 12m sampled, only 0.56% of those under 18 years of age opted to play real money games.
What many seem to forget with social media channels like Facebook and Instagram is that they shouldn’t be viewed solely as acquisition tools. Yes, they can drive traffic and sign-ups to your site but that’s not what why there were created. People generally don’t go on Facebook to shop in the same way they don’t go on there to gamble. Therefore, it’s important that operators take this into account when setting targets for their social media advertising campaigns.
These channels should be used to educate existing and potential customers about what your brand offers as well as giving your brand an identity – which is so important when trying to build loyalty and trust – rather than a means to drive traffic to your site or pull in a certain number of registrations or depositors.
Furthermore with new features like Premium Video Ads and Immersive Canvas in the pipeline it’s important that RMG operators don’t just stick to traditional forms of advertising such as, displaying a promo code in a banner. There needs to be more of an effort to focus on narrative – something that Facebook are keen to get behind. Build a character, show the face of your brand.
Trustability is a big factor with RMG and so if people feel like they know your brand then they’re far more likely to trust, i.e. deposit.
One current feature that real money operators should be utilising more are Premium Video Ads. These are 15 seconds videos that would start playing without sound but then if clicked on will expand to full and screen, with sound. Create something compelling that works without sound and then people will click for more. But of course, with some brands going the other way and creating 15 minute short films, it proves that it doesn’t matter how long the ad is, providing it’s compelling enough, people will engage.
What’s the future of Facebook advertising?
Facebook recently rolled out 360 videos – see the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 360 experience below – which give publishers the chance to create virtual reality like videos. Although not available as an ad format yet it will only be a matter of time before marketers are given license to create some thoroughly compelling ads.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.
Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, 23 September 2015
The other big launch coming in 2016 is their Immersive Canvas style ads which are currently being showcased by a few select brands including, Mr Porter and Michael Kors. This sees brands being able to create full screen interactive experiences within Facebook. Whilst on first glance appearing to be just a regular ad, once activated they open the door to photos, videos, text, narrative and various other content.
As well as this Facebook’s own Oculus Rift virtual reality solution is expected some time in 2016, which will provide yet more advertisement opportunities.
By developing numerous different new and innovative ad formats, Facebook is moving further away from its competitors by offering a greater flexibility with its targeting options and this is where it excels in comparison to ad solutions such as Google’s Display Network whose limitations with its targeting and optimisation puts off many an advertiser.
The future of Facebook’s advertising is focused on giving the advertiser the ability to create truly engaging ads but for the real money gaming industry this notion of 360 degrees needs to be applied not only to the ads themselves but also to the whole user experience. You could spend a huge amount of budget creating compelling advertising but then this will be rendered pointless if this same the level of engagement is not then applied to every aspect of your brand. Advancements such as these will invariably force some brands to move forward or be forgotten entirely.
Phil Twigg is the PPC & SEM Advertising Manager at Dice London. Phil is a PPC specialist with 9 years experience in digital marketing for a number of global brands.