Expert: What Facebook’s side-by-side video feature means

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Kristina: Facebook recently expanded the watch-and-scroll feature for video – what is the reasoning behind this move?

Julie Ginches, CMO, ViralGains: Facebook’s goal is to drive up view time and to equate those times to engagement, but engagement is more complex, especially when users don’t realize they’re watching a video. Additionally, videos appear in the left margin of the user feed, which can distract and annoy users (as well as rack up advertiser charges without any meaningful user engagement). The other consideration is just how much attention the user actually pays to Facebook videos versus their true interest in what their friends are posting. At best, these videos receive continuous partial attention (the term coined by Linda Stone to describe the process of paying simultaneous attention to a number of sources of incoming information, but at a superficial level). By definition, these ads should have an inherently low conversion rate because the user’s attention is splintered between the advertiser videos and all of the content posted by friends, news sources, and groups the user chose to follow.

Kristina: What impact might this have on social video?

Julie: First, let’s distinguish the differences between social video and social media marketing. Social video is predicated on people deliberately choosing to share videos of interest with their friends and social networks. Typically, users include brief comments to endorse the video, stating why they believe their friends will benefit from viewing it. This is not the same as social media marketing, in which a video ad appears within a user’s browser while visiting a social media site, and the user has not opted to view it. Blurring these two concepts introduces significant confusion to a market that’s actively seeking to define the value of video and assess its true business ROI. Brands pay dearly for video inventory, under the belief that video will deliver them solid business returns, but we can’t underestimate the role of choice and true engagement. Did the consumer choose to watch the video and interact with the brand – telling them what they want and how they feel? If yes, it’s far more likely the brand has made an authentic connection with the consumer who actually paid attention to its contents, and is willing to make the hop over to real social video.

Kristina: Is there anything marketers can do to combat this?

Julie: I believe there is. Traditionally, when agencies or ad tech companies measure campaign success they use metrics such as views and clicks. To me, these are vanity metrics which present little value to the marketer. But, I see important changes occurring in the industry. Marketers are beginning to rethink what they want to get out of video campaigns. Is it really enough to say, “1000 people in my targeted audience watched two seconds of the video that was 50% in view?” Or are there metrics that accurately measure a more authentic connection? And there are metrics for measuring authentic connections, including a mix of viewability, sentiment, engagement, and attention (time spent watching).

Make no mistake, identifying the right authentic connection for a brand takes work. Unlike traditional video or display campaigns, there aren’t any generic metrics like CTR or video completion rate that can apply to all campaigns. But every day we see smart brands optimizing their campaigns for viewers most likely to engage using billions of actionable engagement data points about attitude and behavior and using metrics based on business KPIs, like newsletter sign-ups or actual orders placed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristina Knight is a freelance writer based in Ohio, United States. She began her career in radio and television broadcasting, focusing her energies on health and business reporting. After six years in the industry, Kristina branched out on her own. Since 2001, her articles have appeared in Family Delegate, Credit Union Business, FaithandValues.com and with Threshold Media.