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There has been a lot of talk about Facebook’s video view figures this week at AdWeek New York. It seems everyone has an opinion on the misreporting of video views, and how to fix the problem from an analytical perspective.
But in an interview ahead of his panel — “Are You Getting Audience Attention with Video?” — Seraj Bharwani, chief analytics officer at Visible Measures, told me that he believes content producers need to focus efforts elsewhere.
“The Facebook story was big for me in one important aspect,” Bharwani said. “It’s really the first time that advertisers have contested, directly, that they may not be getting as much attention as they thought.”
And, of course, Facebook is a big deal. Regardless of how it counts its users, video views, and ad impressions, it is a huge community and one that every business wants to leverage. But for video, Facebook is used entirely differently than the likes of YouTube, DailyMotion, and other video-centric properties.
“There’s a promise that lots of people watch videos on Facebook, and therefore lots of ads are being served,” Bharwani said. “But that’s not really the truth.”
The experience is entirely different from the one a consumer will experience elsewhere. In terms of video views, Google’s YouTube is still streets ahead of Facebook, serving 11X the number of video minutes per day.
“When people go to YouTube, DailyMotion, or other dedicated video platforms, they are coming for the purpose of watching a video,” Bharwani said. “When they go to Facebook, they are there to see what friends and family are doing and that sometimes means scrolling past or watching a video posted by those contacts. The two experiences aren’t remotely the same.”
So how can we move beyond the analytics alone and elevate the conversation? How can we raise the bar?
“Do people make a distinction where the content is coming from?” Bharwani asks. “No — they just want the content to be entertaining.”
So while the marketing world has focused on reach and frequency, competition has increased massively. That means video content producers now have to focus on attention as the No. 1 metric, according to Bharwani.
“There is a whole class of programmatic ad buying that is all about frequency,” Bharwani said. “But the moment marketers and content producers come to realize that attention does not impact brand equity, they start to change.”
And by creating attention-grabbing videos that engage the audience within the first second or two, consumers begin to build a greater emotional bond. Emotion trumps reaction and helps to create raving fans that will amplify your message.
Being realistic about objective is also important. In its research, Visible Measures has shown that — almost regardless of the length of the video — that people watch only half of the duration of the content.
Do they stop watching because the content isn’t compelling? Or are there other factors at play?
“The content is definitely at the heart of it, but the publishers are involved here too,” Bharwani said. “What kind of environment is the video being housed in? Is it embedded in a website that includes pop-ups and advertising? Is it on a video platform that interrupts the user? And how much noise is there in that bracket? If I’m targeting males between 25-34 years old, I need to know who else is distracting that segment to understand better whether I can be the most compelling distraction. All of those will affect the video views, and these elements should be the focus of content creators everywhere, not whether the views are being counted correctly or not.”
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