Home EuropeEurope II 2015 Social TV has arrived, on the most popular social platforms

Social TV has arrived, on the most popular social platforms

by Administrator
Gareth CaponIssue:Europe II 2015
Article no.:8
Topic:Social TV has arrived, on the most popular social platforms
Author:Gareth Capon
PDF size:197KB

About author

Gareth Capon is CEO at Grabyo. He brings more than 15 years experience in digital, mobile and television covering both corporates and startups.

Prior to joining Grabyo, Gareth was a Product Development Director at BSkyB where he managed Sky’s award winning mobile app portfolio and led investments in tech startups in Europe and North America. Gareth was also responsible for driving social TV initiatives across BSkyB during his tenure. Gareth previously founded a digital media consulting business and co-founded two start-ups covering music, mobile and social. He began his career as a strategy consultant in the telecoms and media sector at Accenture.

Gareth Capon studied at Oxford University and graduated with MA First Class in Geography.

Article abstract

With Facebook, the social media audience for broadcasters and rights holders has received a significant and timely boost, it counts over 1.4 billion users, 798 million of which access the platform using their mobile everyday. In the US, you can reach 128M people every day, 101m of which are on mobile.

Full Article

As social platforms have evolved, a common theme has emerged: from text and links to images and photos and then video – the importance of social video is paramount to all key players. Video consumption on these platforms has surged over the last year thanks to the development of native video players and improvements in mobile network bandwidth. So are we now witnessing the dawn of social TV?

Facebook video was reinvented by the ice bucket challenge – a global video event played out on the social web. Twitter now has over 130 media partners for its premium sponsored video programme (Amplify) and recently rolled out native video within its app making a play to use video as the driver of premium content and advertising on its platform. SnapChat has launched its Discover network for publishers generating millions of engagements and advertising packages starting at $750,000, in addition to “SnapChat Stories” which combines thousands of user generated videos shot by fans at live events. Meanwhile, YouTube has moved from platform manager to rights owner and is nurturing a stable of new ‘YouTube stars’ whose subscriber numbers dwarf the population of many countries. With a mission to maximise their ad revenues, the vastly superior ad rates for premium video formats (especially those that are mobile) are irresistible.

With Facebook, the social media audience for broadcasters and rights holders has received a significant and timely boost, it counts over 1.4 billion users, 798 million of which access the platform using their mobile everyday. In the US, you can reach 128M people every day, 101m of which are on mobile. Meanwhile, Twitter now has over 300 million monthly active users, SnapChat has more than 100m and YouTube has over a billion users logging in each month although ‘only’ half of these are mobile. These vast numbers exclude the hundreds of millions of users that access video via other social platforms and messaging apps: WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Tango, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest. With smartphone penetration continuing to grow and mobile app usage increasingly dominating digital media consumption, the audiences provided by popular social platforms will only get larger.

For social platforms competing to dominate video consumption, user experience matters. Every click away from an app, timeline or newsfeed can mean thousands, if not millions, of lost views. This is why Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have spent so much time and money building their own native digital propositions for their users. If you provide the best video solution ‘on platform’ you are likely to attract the best content (and advertising partners) but more importantly, you create the best experience, which in turn leads to higher engagement. Facebook launched its own (native) video player to ensure that a ‘Facebook video experience is the ‘best video experience on Facebook.’ Facebook’s rapid growth to more than 4bn video views a day in a little over 12 months shows how effective this strategy has been.

Native video has always been the most successful way to deliver a great video experience, particularly for short-form and especially on mobile. YouTube offers a native video experience on most key platforms and the trend has been to consolidate this within applications owned and managed by Google – the move away from an integrated experience within iOS for example, driven in part by the desire to control both the UX and advertising experience on mobile. One of the defining aspects of the YouTube video ecosystem is that although it’s relatively simple for content owners to publish content to YouTube and embed a YouTube video in their website or apps, the video experience presented to the user is a ‘YouTube’ experience and not a white label service. When a clip ends viewers are recommended other videos to watch from YouTube, or encouraged to subscribe to a YouTube channel, thus reinforcing the need for content owners to publish more content to the YouTube platform.

Facebook and Twitter extend this concept by providing a social video discovery service as part of their native video proposition. Facebook knows a lot about its users, both from opt-in engagement data such as ‘likes, comments and shares’ in addition to how they spend their time and attention within the newsfeed. The picture of user behaviour is further enhanced by data coming from millions of mobile apps that use Facebook Open Graph for authentication and login. As such Facebook can use this data to present videos to its users that are both relevant and in context – which means users are much more likely to watch them. Thanks to Facebook’s algorithm and the reinforcing behaviour of the viral content loop, the most popular content is also more sticky – it remains in the user’s newsfeed even as new content is shared. Twitter is now working on its own algorithm to enhance video discovery and bring users the most relevant content (rather than simply the latest tweets). Examples of this are live today including video recommendations and “whilst you were away” lists of relevant content.

Building on its understanding of user behaviour and interests Facebook has also delivered a simple, yet highly effective user experience for getting customers to watch more video – autoplay. This is probably the single most important feature in the recent history of online (and especially mobile) video. This is not a new trick. For years we have turned on our TV in “autoplay mode” and understood this to be the standard experience for watching video. In many ways it’s surprising that it took so long to reach the digital ecosystem. The data shows that it works and the success of autoplay on Facebook has prompted Twitter to start testing its own autoplay variant as part of the native Twitter video experience for users in North America (Mar 2015). No such plans have been announced by YouTube but it would seem likely that YouTube may test autoplay at some point in the future, particularly for mobile users or in combination with its Google search driven experiences (OneBox and Google Now).

Media companies and content rights holders have been warming to the social platforms in response to key trends in user behaviour and media attention. Firstly, millions of consumers visit social platforms such as Facebook up to 15x per day – no publisher or rights holder is likely to command this level of engagement for its own website or mobile apps. Secondly, the viral nature of social platforms means that when social media users discover a great piece of content, it is distributed far more quickly and broadly than a publisher could achieve through traditional channels. Video is also becoming an increasingly important part of the social ecosystem; it drives increased dwell time, higher engagement and higher advertising and sponsorship revenues. Furthermore, content rights holders and talent from sports and entertainment are also building scalable audiences on social platforms that are always-on and span multiple geographies and demographic groups worldwide.

In December 2014 the NFL partnered with Facebook to deliver real-time video content from live games through the Championship play-offs and the Superbowl – the clips were sponsored by Verizon and Salesforce and were viewable to all of Facebook’s U.S. users. This pilot deal with the NFL and Verizon, the growing scale of Twitter Amplify, the deals between YouTube and major rights holders such as the NFL, NBA, NHL and IPL (Cricket) and the launch of Discover and Stories on SnapChat, highlights that it is now possible to monetise short-form video on the largest social platforms.

The ability to target fans using paid campaigns on social networks is also important from a commercial perspective: brand sponsors can benefit from a wave of initial distribution for the content or campaign, driven by the scale and organic reach of the rights holder whose videos carry their advertising message, and then amplify this reach through paid media buying across each target social platform. The huge volume of engagement is good for content owners too, it builds following and reach, activates key sponsorship and advertising messages, engages fans through organic, earned and paid-media and enhances the value of future campaigns. Moreover, video engagement on social is higher than any other content type (such as text or video) so it has a greater chance of surfacing in a newsfeed or timeline.

Already we’ve seen many of the largest rights holders globally share some of their most valuable content. With rights holders and brand sponsors now able to enjoy digital engagement at a scale that was typically unavailable outside of television, and with the dramatic growth of mobile audiences to continue, we can expect the proliferation of premium content on social platforms to continue. Indeed, it looks like we are at the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


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