Serialized "TV" Proves Effective
Facebook publishers have seen strong engagement results for their multi-episode and serialized programming, which is great news for Facebook: The platform just rolled out its new "Watch" tab to host such content.
Brands like Mashable are running episodic videos that run upwards of 10 minutes with twice the average watch time of their "stand-alone" video content. Similarly, news and issues publisher Attn's serialized videos are seeing a whopping 30x the views and shares vs. its stand-alone content. THIRTY. Attn's co-founder told Digiday, “We’re seeing huge dividends... It’s led us to believe that serialized programming on Facebook not only can but does and will work.”
(This feels like a good opportunity to point out that the much buzzed-about "6-second video ad" is not a one-size-fits-all solution for social video. It is being celebrated as an effective ad format, but there is clearly still a market for long-form video content plays.)
This may also come as more bad news for Snapchat, whose sole remaining differentiator has been the TV-like content it has invested so heavily in. If Facebook can muscle out Snapchat here, too, it will be interesting to see if Snapchat can keep its head above water without waving the white flag and settling for a niche social media market.
Sites that push and promote news fake news on Facebook will now be blocked from advertising. This continues Facebook's months-long crusade against the sharing and spreading of inaccurate information, a campaign that began after the platform was largely blamed for influencing the results of the November election.
YouTube Makes Some Changes
This week YouTube unveiled the newest iteration of its branding, in addition to retooling the page’s design and layout to give it a clean and open aesthetic.
The biggest change, however, is an adaptive mobile player that automatically adjusts for vertical video, getting rid of the annoying black bars that previously appeared on the sides. YouTube had proudly carried the Horizontal Video mantle for some time now, which makes this a particularly significant win for the future of vertical video.
Vertical video is already outperforming horizontal video on Facebook. Considering that Gen Z is already regarded as the Snapchat generation (the platform that largely popularized vertical video) and "can't live without" YouTube, this change of heart might be the beginning of the end for horizontal video on social.
Is Facebook Going the Way of Myspace?
Facebook has had a long reign as king of social media—though it may be beginning to enter its twilight years. Usage among young people is officially on the decline. One analyst notes that "teens and tweens, seem less engaged... logging in less frequently and spending less time.... Instead... they are migrating to Snapchat and Instagram."
The most concerning factor about this news is the demographic in question. It's young people who are losing interest. And young people represent a platform's future. As the article notes, "Facebook... needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood," pointing out that, for the first time since the platform's debut, there is now a notable group of "Facebook nevers"—tweens and teens who are choosing to not join the platform at all.
At least Instagram—owned by Facebook—is still popular?
Chrome Is Going to Start Blocking Your Ads
Potentially. A few months ago, Google announced that its next version of Chrome would come with a pre-installed ad-blocker meant to enhance user experience within the browser. Pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads, full-page ads, page takeovers, and anything deemed "distracting" (or, as we in the ad business call it, "disruptive") would be scrubbed from the browser before users can even interact with it.
As an update to that story, Google has revealed (through its "Ad Experience Report") more outlines, guides, and initial findings. While most of the ads that failed Google's standards (or were given warnings) came from predictably chintzy sources (like "checkthesevideos.com" and other clear spam sites), ads from major brands like Forbes and the LA Times failed Google's test, too. Which should raise some flags for marketers everywhere.
While we don't know the full details on the new Chrome ad-blocking platform or how/if Google will help brands better meet ad criteria, this signals clearly what most of us already know: The era of banner ads is over. A browser auto-blocking ads sets a new precedent—it’s easy to imagine Firefox, Safari, and the rest following suit before long. And seeing as banner ads aren't even an effective means of driving traffic in the first place, it will only be harder to justify leveraging these sorts of digital ads as a viable tactic.