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Facebook’s YouTube competitor is pivoting to older audiences as teens tune out and publishers balk


As Facebook battles to discover a group of people for its YouTube rival, Watch, the organization has been conversing with a few media organizations about concentrating its endeavors on gatherings of people 30 years and more seasoned rather than adolescents and more youthful recent college grads.

The move flags more inconveniences for Facebook’s video desire. Development in video, informing, and Stories are key for the eventual future of Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said amid a call with examiners in October. The organization missed income projections in the second from last quarter in the wake of foreseeing an income stoppage prior this year, and the organization’s stock is down in excess of 20 percent on the year. Moving video promotions is one way it is hoping to compensate for the log jam in different regions.

Concentrating on more seasoned clients

Facebook propelled Watch in August 2017 as a center for video content. Clients can pursue arrangement, and the stage suggests recordings dependent on client conduct. The activity is a path for the organization to take advantage of advanced video promoting, an industry worth $28 billion of every 2018 as indicated by eMarketer. Facebook has contributed more than $1 billion purchasing unique shows and substance for Watch, per Variety.

Yet, the administration isn’t flourishing, and numerous media purchasers are disregarding it.

In August, the organization said in regards to 50 million U.S. clients every month see Watch content. It’s a little gathering of people contrasted and YouTube, which said in May it had 1.8 billion signed in watchers every month. Facebook recognized in a gathering with distributers in October that a ton of clients are not natural the Watch mark, as per one organization in participation.

In addition, Sarah Madigan, who was on the deal team for Facebook original series, left the company recently for MGM, according to herLinkedIn account. She previously was a director of content acquisition for Netflix.

At the same time, teens are losing interest in Facebook overall. A recent Piper Jaffray report showed only 36 percent of teens used Facebook at least once a month during fall 2018, down from 52 percent just two years ago.

With these trends in mind, Facebook is now soliciting video content for older users in hopes of making Watch more relevant.

In talks with at least three media companies, Facebook has hinted it wants Watch shows aimed at post-college millennials around parenting age and older. One media company said Facebook was asking them for shows hosted by traditional celebrities rather than social media stars. Facebook responded most positively to talent in their 30s through 50s.

Another company said Facebook said it wanted shows for a broad audience, but not focused on anyone who was under the age of 20. Any teen shows need to have adult themes that could attract older viewers. Facebook was also asking for more formats that may be familiar to traditional TV viewers and middle America, like reality and talk shows.

Facebook has pared down the number of shows it is purchasing. The few it supports has more household appeal for post-college viewers. “Queen America” stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, while talk show “Red Table Talk” stars Jada Pinkett Smith. “The Real World,” while still on air, has more of a nostalgia factor for Gen Xers.

On the list of Watch shows available for advertising, only 25 percent are for people in their young 20s, one media buyer said. The rest are for an older audience, especially newer shows. Another media company who did an independent analysis of their competitors found just 15 percent of the top 25 shows on Facebook Watch are aimed towards teens and young adults.

In a statement, Facebook played down the significance of Watch as a stand-alone service separate from the News Feed, but said that video consumption rates are higher within Watch.

“We see Watch and News Feed serving complementary purposes, so it makes sense that video consumption and discovery are happening in both places,” Matthew Henick, Facebook head of content strategy and planning, said in a statement. “People are increasingly coming back to Watch for an intentional, people-centric viewing experience, and we’ve seen that people view videos for five times longer in Watch compared to in News Feed. Most importantly, people are connecting with friends and other fans around those videos on Watch in a way they don’t on other platforms.”

Facebook also noted that some shows have successfully captured younger viewers — for instance, it says, 75 percent of “Ball in the Family” viewers are under 35.

Publishers skeptical

When Facebook announced Watch in 2017, the company positioned it as a new source of revenue for publishers. Not only would Facebook pay for some shows, video publishers would be able to earn about 55 percent of the ad revenue on average.

Some in the publishing and advertising industry were skeptical whether Facebook could convert users. People came to the platform to read friend and family updates, not to view video.

“To get people away from the feed is a massive shift,” said Jon Mottel, director of social strategy for Undertone. “They have to change user behavior to get out of that experience, not even considering the fact they have to get users to watch longer form content.”

Facebook argued if companies posted great content, the viewership would follow. Watch would be set apart from its competitors because people could interact with the content, making it easier to create a community.

“The Facebook Watch user experience is very different than a lot of their other content and ad formats that are much quicker to consume,” agreed Kerry Perse, managing director for social for media agency OMD. “The NewsFeed, the stories format, the entire Instagram platform is faster and skews slightly younger than the average Watch user. Facebook Watch require the user being in a different, more leaned-back mindset.”

At an event for media organizations in October, Facebook Watch product managers acknowledged users did not know what Watch was, according to one person that was in attendance. Facebook was considering ways to teach more users about Watch, including NewsFeed posts explaining the service and notifications for people who have watched Watch videos but don’t follow pages. Video publishers pushed back heatedly. They asked why they would invest in creating shows for Watch while their video views were decreasing in other areas of Facebook.

One media executive told CNBC that Watch episodes promoted by Facebook could get millions of views. Without the support, these same series averaged about 265,000 views per episode. The few successful shows are watched by an audience of parents and older, they added.

Even in the early days, when Facebook gave lots of promotion to the service, some advertiser-sponsored content wasn’t able to get the minimum required number of views on Facebook Watch alone, and had to be cross-posted on other platforms like Verizon‘s Oath network, a media buyer noted.

Another media executive said no one is finding content on Watch independently, but only seeing content if someone else posts it on their NewsFeed. The audience for its “youngest” successful show on Watch right now is post-college.

A third media executive said often it was better not to sell a show to Watch, and just upload videos to Facebook without any exclusivity or requirements. Typically, the company makes more money being able to upload the same video to YouTube, Amazon and other video platforms than selling the series to Facebook.

Some TV ad buyers are confused by Facebook’s pitch: Facebook is saying Watch is a great place to advertise, but it’s also saying content under 15 seconds is the future, one media buyer said.

However, it’s not all bad news for Facebook. One agency saw a 64 percent increase in Instagram’s user base between September 2016 and September 2018. While brands aren’t clamoring to be on Facebook Watch, they are very interested in Instagram Stories.


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