In mid-2017, Facebook Watch launched in the States and launched globally at the end of August 2018. If you’re in Canada and work in social media or content marketing, you may have caught headlines about it. Despite the fact that it was launched two weeks ago on the world’s biggest social network with 23 million Canadians on it, I can bet most Canadians have never heard of it.

What is Facebook Watch?

Facebook Watch is Facebook’s answer to Google’s YouTube, which continues to dominate long-form video content. It’s available on the Facebook mobile app or through smart TV platforms such as Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV. It’s where you can find the latest videos personalized to you and from the Facebook pages you follow. These videos are not exclusive to Facebook Watch, but a place to get pure video content (the videos are also found on your feed and pages you follow).

Facebook Watch’s four main points:

  • A place to discover new videos: Find the latest videos spanning entertainment, sports, news and more — all in your personalized Watch feed.
  • A way to catch up with creators and publishers you love: At the top of your Watch feed you’ll see your Watchlist, a collection of recent videos from Pages you follow. Customize this section by following more Pages or removing Pages from your follow list within Watch.
  • A home for your saved videos: If you see a video in News Feed but don’t have time to watch it right away, you can save it to watch later in Watch.
  • Videos you can participate in: We’re building new video experiences that put people at the center, giving them the ability to shape the direction of the content. Over time you’ll be able to find new video experiences in your Watch feed, like Watch Parties, Premieres, and videos focused on audience participation — like the new trivia game show, Confetti. And we’ll make it easier to find live videos so you can discuss the big moments as they’re happening.

Watch Parties” is currently testing in Facebook Groups, but plans to roll out across Facebook. This will let people watch live or recorded video as a group, chatting and commenting on it as they do.

Also with Facebook’s algorithm deciding what you see and don’t see, it can be easy to miss video content you’re genuinely interested in. Facebook Watch is where you can catch up, which is especially useful for shows that are part of a series or narrative arc.

While it’s hasn’t been hyped by Facebook in Canada yet and may seem like it’ll flop, it’s already growing well in the States over the last year. To push more long-form videos to keep people glued to Watch, Facebook is working with a select group of large publishers to create original content. This includes names like Buzzfeed, Vox Media, A&E, National Geographic, Mashable, Refinery29, and more. They will be creating original 20-30 minute scripted and unscripted shows. After a premiere on Facebook, these shows will be released on platforms like YouTube a week later. Smaller budget shows and video content ranging from 4-10 minutes will also be made, but not funded by Facebook.

“Over the past year, we’ve made the experience more social — like making it easier to see which videos your friends have liked or shared, creating shows that have audience participation at their core, and opening Watch to videos from Pages. These updates have helped people discover and engage more deeply with videos they love — from Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, to beauty mogul Huda Kattan’s behind-the-scenes show Huda Boss, to live Major League Baseball games. Every month, more than 50 million people in the US come to watch videos for at least a minute in Watch — and total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14X since the start of 2018.” – Fidji Simo, Facebook Head of Video

What does Facebook Watch mean for content marketing and advertising?

Facebook Watch is a work in progress, with its full potential for content marketing and advertising still to come. For content creators, Facebook will grow as a platform for serialized content, as well as more video views in general. For advertisers, Facebook “Ad Breaks” is also rolling out globally. Ad Breaks are like traditional TV commercials and the ads that interrupt YouTube videos. This will be both pre-roll and mid-roll ads, which have been successful on YouTube. The ads are slated to do well, with Facebook stating “More than 70% of mid-roll ads are viewed to completion on Facebook”.

This gives Facebook marketers a chance to experiment with this video ad format, as well as YouTube advertisers the opportunity to carry their video ads over. Also, like YouTube, classic banner-style image ads can be displayed below videos. Ad Breaks isn’t currently available in Canada but is expected in the coming months (we’ll be sure to start testing ASAP).

For more insight on video content marketing and advertising, check out:

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