With Facebook Video Revolution, Online Video Could Surpass TV Sooner Than You Think

With the fragmentation of media coupled with elusive audiences, marketers are clamoring for platforms that can help them navigate the nuances of today’s ever-changing landscape. Online video presents the perfect elixir for brands looking to drink from the fountain of Madison Avenue as well as the gateway to Millennials — the Holy Grail for advertisers. 

So why does television still rule the marketing space when it comes to video? The short answer is scale.

With a reliable base of millions of viewers for top-flight TV events and programs, advertisers can count on massive scale for their video messages. Tradition is hard to break, and years of data support the value of pushing products across network and cable television. But there’s no denying the decline of TV in reaching younger audiences – YouTube already reaches the highly coveted 18 - 34 demographic more than any single cable network, and that gap widens by the day.



Online video is growing at exceptional speeds, and the latest surge has arrived in the form of native Facebook video. Since 2013, the total views on Facebook videos have grown exponentially, a sign of the increasing relevance of social media as a home for video content. Today, Facebook easily tallies more than one billion video views per day, according to FB’s Product Management Department. No small credit goes to the “Ice Bucket Challenge” phenomenon, a Facebook video explosion that accounted for billions of video views and laid the mortar for a solid Facebook foundation in video posting.

Suddenly, the gap in scale between TV and Web ad messaging isn’t so cavernous. With YouTube and Facebook leading the way — and social publishers like Huffington Post and Upworthy joining the cause and investing accordingly — the tables are turning and advertisers are taking notice.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the entertainment industry, where marketers have been agile in embracing the online video revolution. While TV advertising still commands huge studio budgets, the brightest minds in Hollywood are at the forefront of a burgeoning digital landscape, and it starts with the hallowed movie trailer release.

Two of the top trailer releases in 2014 — Universal’s “Furious 7,” the latest in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, and Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — both wide-scale debuted their trailers online, a decision that immediately delivered vastly shareable marketing content to millions of fans. Without a comparable blockbuster film releasing over Thanksgiving weekend, Disney placed the “Star Wars” trailer in a limited number of select theaters, instead choosing to blast it on YouTube where it racked up over 58 million views in just three days. “Furious 7” received over 100 million video views in the first 48 hours by debuting the trailer on its Facebook page.

Universal — and indeed, most movie studios — have started capitalizing on the development of Facebook as a tool for native video uploads. The might of Facebook’s “newsfeed autoplays” is elevating video view counts into the millions. And even that generally limited engagement still achieves the “drip effect” that advertisers also seek through TV commercials.

While the Facebook train keeps on rolling, YouTube — the supreme video marketing tool on the Web — continues to grow to the tune of six billion hours of video watched every month. Movie studios are even tapping Instagram and Snapchat to debut select video assets. Not only does the scale of these releases now rival TV placement, but the scope already surpasses it.

Where television ads are a passive means of reaching the consumer masses, social media requires the active engagement of an audience; content creation and posting blended with marketing messages. But marketers reach a younger audience with expendable purchasing power when they tap social media for video advertising. In the entertainment industry, it’s this young base that fuels the year’s biggest blockbusters, like Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” saga and Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.  

Intelligent targeting and audience segmentation are the great advantages of utilizing online versus TV advertising. Understanding demographics, likes, and consumer habits means marketing dollars well spent.

As a result, expect more and more big movie trailers to make their debuts online, through social channels like YouTube and Facebook. The overall scale and reach of these social platforms will soon dwarf TV while providing studios the best bang-for-your-buck. 

For the studios that have massive followings on their own social media channels, advertising all but takes care of itself. Reaching across the aisle to fans not already locked into a movie means the top YouTube and Facebook publishers will be tomorrow’s marketing juggernauts.

So move aside network and cable TV. The movie marketing meccas could be shifting to the Web sooner than you think.

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