Facebook has been having a really crappy month. 

As of last week, allegations of deliberate and widespread fraud are the cherry on top of the ”eavesdropping on its users” and “massive security breach” sundae that has been September/October.

What happened?

So back in 2016, Facebook was caught out inflating its video metrics.

For anyone who hasn’t run Facebook Video ads, it’s sold on a Cost Per View basis, and defines a payable “view” as anyone who sees the ad for over 3 seconds.

In its reporting, however, it was discarding any views of less than 3 seconds from part of its calculation of “average duration of video viewed” metric; meaning many people were seeing inaccurately impressive view duration and stats like 100% average viewership rates. This, Facebook admitted, meant that the actual average time spent watching was over-calculated by between 60% to 80%.

Snap above from the now unsealed suit. 

This is old news - Facebook addressed the issue in a blog post in 2016 (since removed).

However, in a new case, plaintiffs are claiming that this over-calculation could be as much as 900%.

Oh, also...

They claim that Facebook were aware of the problem, and sat on it for over a year, trying to hide the fact by quietly adjusting metric semantics (as an example: changing “Average Duration of Video Viewed” with “Average Watch Time”).

Bear in mind, this is ongoing litigation and, at this time, not proven to the extent the plaintiffs are claiming; but considering the case is supposedly backed up by leaked memos from Facebook employees, if this is true, what does this mean? And what, if any, effect did this have on the Industry?

People got fired.

With these pretty tasty looking stats, came a whole heap of advertisers trying to leverage what seemed to be potential for an easy win. People started investing in churning out social-friendly videos to get those sweet sweet views. According to the stats, people were happily watching for pretty respectable periods of time; so, syndication of video seemed an ideal way to hold attention and generate genuine user engagement.

However, as this happened, in-house creative teams got increasingly pushed aside in favour of creative agencies who were better equipped to turn these out.

Further down the line though, these same agencies started getting pressure on why their "super engaging" videos weren't translating into tangible impact, and the whole process began to reverse.

And this extends beyond marketing to the publishers themselves, with a veritable Red Wedding of journalist desks worldwide as publishers ceded more and more advertising revenue to Facebook.

Facebook cashed in

As people started seeing impressive reporting stats Facebook video advertising, people could not shift their money to the platform fast enough. The result was a record profit year for Facebook in 2015

Our Industry Went Video Mental

Video is everywhere in our industry; present on every site, and every marketing plan... But why does it seem that the experience of video on a site is so often such a chore? And where is this disconnect between UX and Marketing demand coming from?

Auto-playing videos... mid-roll ads... let's be frank; these are a nuisance to users. Why are we buying them? Or more accurately, why are they being sold?

Though video delivery is improving, there was a massive push by publishers to open up video inventory in an effort to keep up with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. 

This drive isn't always in line with what users actually want, and as a result we're often seeing on-site content that is simply not suitable for video format, stuck into video anyway to allow for more pre-roll inventory. This leads to a frustrating cycle where less users engage with video content, so Publishers have to think of more ways of opening up video inventory, which often becomes more intrusive or more superfluous.

Speaking cynically, it's also been a very good Trojan horse for publishers to introduce an advertising format that can avoid "ad-blockers and guarantee viewability" at a time where these topics have taken centre stage in the industry.

The so-called "pivot to video" has been a focal point of many publishers' strategies to secure revenue in an increasingly turbulent environment. 

To me, this mismatch between what an audience wants to consume, and what a marketer wants to buy helps to explain how 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are apparently "The Year of Video Marketing". 

So what do we do?

There is no cheat code.

Used well, Video can communicate a message more efficiently than a Whitepaper, more emotionally than a Banner Ad and more engagingly than a Sponsored Update; but we have to remember it for what it is; another tool in the armoury to be used appropriately; NOT a shortcut to user engagement.

Appreciate the metrics it usually brings with it (particularly reach and shareability), but don't lose sight of the bigger picture - understand how it operates with the rest of your tactics and, most importantly, make certain your content is something that's suited for video. 

I've been cynical, but people enjoy video when it's used well!  

  • 95% of Tech Decision Makers watch Technology-related Videos

Of those:

  • 71% watch on Vendor Websites
  • 65% watch on YouTube or another Video Channel 
  • 64% watch on Tech Content Websites

Source: IDG Customer Engagement Research

On average DMs will spend an average:

  • 16.52 Minutes watching a Webcast
  • 12.23 Minutes watching a How-To video
  • 6.63 Minutes watching a Product First Look video

Source: IDG Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker Study

Video is proven to be a valuable tool and can directly influence the sales process demonstrating value across the cycle.

Source: Vidyard 2017 Research

A thought that often goes through my mind far too often is "God I wish this was an article". Flip this on its head; make video that makes your audience grateful for the medium, not resentful.

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At Kingpin, we help B2B technology marketers understand and embrace trends and industry challenges with an ‘audience first’ philosophy - making sure we never lose sight of the most important thing - your customers. 

Whether it’s through ABM, social, search, content, programmatic, telemarketing or any other channel or tactic – what matters most to us is that every action is backed up by relevant and accurate insights that connect the dots and generate meaningful ROI.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can take your marketing to the next level.