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Facebook rethinks social video

News, 10 January 2017
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LAS VEGAS: Facebook, the social media giant, is reported to be working with publishers to develop a new social video ad format that promises to deliver brands opportunities similar to television.

"Facebook is now designing new units for social video," Henry Blodget, chief executive of Business Insider, told Beet.TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"I've been sworn to secrecy, so I can't reveal some of what they're coming up with," he said, "but they're coming up with some very smart ways which are much more integrated in to the storytelling, in the same way it is in television.

"I think that will unlock a huge opportunity for brands," he added, "and it will enable them to get the control and scale that they love from television."

Blodget sees social video as "the next big thing" and something that publishers and advertisers ought to be focused on today rather than the more vague promise held out by newer technologies.

"This is the biggest new opportunity and it's happening now," he declared. "People talk about virtual reality and augmented reality but those are still down the road a ways – it's a very small community that's actually consuming that whereas tons of people are consuming social media now."

As a publisher, he has learned the hard way, through trial and error, how best to approach the platform.

"A few years ago … we put our stuff on Facebook – it didn't work at all, nobody watched it," he said. "We realised, through experimenting, it's a new kind of story, you have to tell the story differently, build the distribution differently.

"Sometimes, they're vertical or square; sometimes they're sound-optional … once you do that, it unlocks this incredible new opportunity of people who are going through their social feed."

Facebook is also testing short ad breaks in Facebook Live. "As we gain more positive traction in those short ad breaks, we're looking to expand them into Facebook Live but also into video," said Jane Schachtel, Facebook global technology and telecom strategy director.

Data sourced from Beet.tv; additional content by Warc staff

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