For almost as long as there’s been internet, there’s been a rule about video: Make it short.
Facebook Watch, IGTV, and YouTube Originals are three platforms where longer video is finding a home, and audiences are flocking to them.
As a result, marketers and advertisers need to figure out how to reach these audiences, who despite being engaged for long periods may need to put down their device at a moment’s notice.
Here are questions that digital storytellers are pondering, as well as the answers:
Is there space for our content on these platforms?
First and foremost dilemma is: Where exactly on these longer-form platforms will brands be able to showcase their campaigns?
Instagram, and even Instagram Stories, are established grounds for advertising and marketing campaigns. IGTV, however, is not: At present, the platform doesn’t run ads.
YouTube Originals, under the Premium umbrella, poses a similar issue. One of the selling points to consumers is ostensibly the lack of advertisements between videos.
On the other hand, on these platforms brands can link up with influencers to create genuine moments within the context of the creator’s own brand. Partnering with influencers involves walking a fine line, and on these nascent platforms, brands must take care to protect all parties from charges of inauthenticity.
Facebook Watch, which is experiencing soaring popularity thanks to its enormous user base as well as quality exclusive content, offers pre-roll and mid-roll programmatic media placements. Opportunities for influencer-created content abound on here as well.
Which platform should we focus on?
In terms of ad-supported and free video, there is no question that YouTube is still the leader in the field.
YouTube Originals, however, lives behind a $12/month paywall. Though other perks come with a subscription to YouTube Premium, it’s difficult to imagine users forking over that money en masse while Originals still lags behind streaming behemoths like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Facebook Watch, meanwhile, is capturing 40 percent of U.S. Facebook users each week, and has earned millions of views on exclusive content like the Humans of New York series. Expect Facebook and Instagram, which it owns, to continue expanding their rosters of content until they are on par with other streaming services.
How should we tell these stories?
Long-form and short-form storytelling are very different animals, and they require thinking about storytelling differently. A few things to keep in mind:
- Think in terms of episodes: Your content can mirror television episodes in terms of length as well as how they tell the story over a series of videos. Characters and themes should remain consistent throughout.
- Try different storytelling models: Documentaries, educational videos, profiles, and behind-the-scenes content—try each of them in turn and see which gives you the best ROI.
- Break things down: You should still be able to break stories into bite-size content that you can share across short-form platforms.
We are coming full-circle in terms of marketing to video consumers, but the devices, platforms, and characters are all new—and thus require new rules for reaching audiences.
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