Will Facebook finally emerge as the go-to destination for video on the web? That is a question that is being increasingly debated with the social media platform overtaking YouTube in the total number of video views on the desktop in the US last August. Earlier this year, a study by Socialbakers showed that native Facebook videos get more reach than any other type of post. Mark D’Arcy, vice president and chief creative officer of Facebook, too, acknowledges the power of the video. As he says, videos on Facebook generate as much as three billion views a day. “So from a marketing standpoint … if we are able to entice people to go through these videos, then it could become a very powerful tool for advertisers,” he says.
D’Arcy is working hard on that. As head of Facebook’s team of creative strategists who work at a special division called Facebook Creative Shop, D’Arcy and his team are designing different campaigns depending upon the needs of a brand, and videos form a major part of that. As of now, there is a utility component attached to the kind of video content consumed online, he says. And Facebook is working on that premise: making the ads on the social media
platform more useful to members, says D’Arcy in an email interview to FE Brandwagon’s Anushree Bhattacharyya. Edited excerpts:
What makes Facebook a unique platform for advertisers?
The first thing that people including advertisers and agencies talk about Facebook is our reach. This year our monthly active users grew by 13% over a year ago to 1.44 billion. Of this 87% users access Facebook by mobile devices including smartphones and other mobile devices. As for our advertisers, we believe advertising should add value to their businesses. Whether it is a large, medium scale or local business, advertising should have value and should directly help in reaching the objective. For instance, increase in sales. We believe this can be achieved through newsfeed. While the world may look at Facebook as just a platform, we believe that there is no one platform called Facebook rather there are individual Facebooks.
The platform is unique for each user and each user can be spoken to in a language and tone that the user understands. Facebook is all about people. It is a ‘people book’.
Video and social media are said to be the two most important tools for advertising on the mobile as well as on the web. How is Facebook integrating video on its newsfeed?
What we have observed so far is that video content is being highly consumed by people across the world including in countries such as India. There is no doubt that people love consuming videos through mobile. For instance, videos on Facebook generate as much as three billion views a day. So from a marketing standpoint, it is imperative to create films that tell compelling stories that would make people sit up and take notice as they go through the newsfeed. If we are able to entice people to go through these videos, then it could become a very powerful tool for advertisers. However, the only problem is that this is very new. Even though the number of users accessing videos online is very large, we are currently in the stage where we are exploring and are curious to understand how and what is the different kind of content that people want to consume and share.
What kind of videos appeal to people on Facebook? How are advertisers adapting to this demand?
Till now we have seen people consuming factual and useful content which helps in answering their queries. So there is a utility component attached to the kind of video content consumed online. Besides, we have seen people consuming content with beautiful production value—from beautiful landscapes to scintillating music—videos which are very well-shot and put together professionally generate a lot of buzz online. As for brands, their owners have started paying attention to what makes a user stop and watch a video while browsing through the newsfeed. The opening three seconds of a film and the way the copy is written —these decide whether the video will keep the user glued to the story. Online video is at a phase where a lot of experimentation is going on at this moment.
What challenges do you face in a market such as India?
I was in India last year and during my stay I realised that the demand for interesting solutions is very high. While advertisers, agencies and the Indian staff of Facebook are very passionate about how they can utilise and generate maximum benefit from the different features and tools of Facebook, my challenge resides in meeting that demand by ensuring we create those tools and case studies that would help them use the platform to its best potential. In India, 112 million people access Facebook and everyone is on mobile, so the other challenge is to create a valuable asset that is meaningful to both advertisers and users. For instance, the launch of our Accelerator program early this year is an example of how Facebook is constantly looking at creating better advertising tools. The new tool allows us to build campaigns for different mobile phones including feature phones.
When it comes to creating campaigns, what is the kind of approach Creative Shop follows?
At Facebook we follow a culture that we call ‘hacker culture’. The way Creative Shop works with advertisers and agencies across the world reflects this culture. For instance, we conceptualise ideas and thoughts in partnership with our clients and agencies for a campaign on Facebook, before work begins on creating a campaign for traditional media such as television, print, outdoor and radio. The Creative Shop team works on everything, right from the way a story should be told to creating a storyboard to understanding factors such as if the campaign is newsfeed friendly. We also create original content from time to time. For instance, during the FIFA World Cup, we made videos for McDonald’s.