Facebook has launched a video advertising program to create better video ads. Better for everyone — except the brands paying for them.
Called "Anthology," the new program’s goal is more watchable branded video content on Facebook. That means more people liking and sharing branded content, as well as more people tolerating more branded videos. That’s great for Facebook, because it means more ad revenue.
It’s great for the content creators with which Facebook will partner to create these videos — digital publishers like The Vice, BET and The Onion, who gain additional revenue and opportunities to establish relationships with brands directly.
It’s great for Facebook’s 1.39 billion monthly active viewers, because nobody wants to watch ads that suck.
But for brands, Anthology might not be so great.
In a blog post, Facebook announced the program:
Anthology is equal parts art and science, pairing publisher creativity with Facebook advertising insights to create custom campaigns that meet brands’ business goals. The program gathers a number of leading publishers to lend brands their creativity, storytelling expertise and video production know-how.
The sleight of hand in this paragraph is the word “custom.” Advertising agencies are configured around creating custom marketing campaigns. Facebook says it has creative strategists who will combine insights into the Facebook medium with publisher creativity — all with the goal of brands getting “the most out of the Facebook platform to drive business results.”
But Facebook is selling space first and foremost, so its business is configured around selling space, not filling it.
It’s true many agencies are playing catch-up with branded content. But they’ll catch up because they have to.
At quench, we know how to turn heads with branded content. In March, we combined Broccoli Day with St. Patrick’s Day — national holidays just a few days apart — mashing them up into "St. Broccoli Day." Our efforts were recognized and shared by comedy website Funny Or Die, and earned a high degree of social media exposure for Foxy Fresh Produce.
While there is certainly some overlap, marketing isn’t comedy or journalism, or vice-versa. It’s storytelling. More specifically, it’s storytelling deeply informed by the brand, the audience, the competition and the business goals.
Without those factors, those videos will soon become expected templates, which means no one will bother watching.
Facebook’s key advantage isn’t on-staff “creative strategists.” It’s data no one else has. All of those 1.39 billion people are signing on to Facebook across various devices with their actual name — not “Dude234” on Twitter and “parkslopefancy” on Instagram. That means Facebook knows exactly who is doing what, where and when, and with whom they’re doing it. That insight is both unique and incredibly valuable to marketers.
Zuckerberg and his team deserve credit. Anthology will help them gain on YouTube, and, for a short while, the program will actually create better videos.
But Facebook’s real opportunity is to figure out a way to market its unique insight to brands, agencies and media firms. Facebook is a huge medium, and it’s holding the keys to reaching all of the right people in the right places.
Not coincidentally, those keys will eventually unlock the door to the company’s real marketing value.
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