- Publishers like Tastemade built big Facebook audiences by churning out lots of short content. But now many need to shift gears.
- That’s because Facebook has begun inserting ads into video clips, but only if they run 90 seconds or more.
- For Tastemade, that’s meant shooting videos using more TV-like conventions, like cliffhangers before ad breaks.
Think a 30-second clip of an unseen chef making delectable-looking fried shrimp tacos — one of which has generated over 26 million views since last June.
Then Facebook decided it wanted media companies to make longer videos, so it could insert more video ads.
When Facebook decides it wants something, publishers usually get on board — especially when the promise of ad revenue is involved.
“We kinda had to rethink everything,” Larry Fitzgibbon,Tastemade co-founder and CEO, told Business Insider.
That’s likely the state of affairs for many content companies that spent a great deal of energy perfecting eye-catching, decidedly short videos on Facebook. Many publishers built large Facebook audiences by honing the art of producing quick-hit clips built for a sound-off, thumb-scrolling world. The hope was eventually Facebook would help them make money on these videos
But now, they have got to rethink their production operations to make longer videos, and the videos need to be shot and edited accommodate ads seamlessly, without turning people away. It’s hard not to feel a bit of algorithm and business-model whiplash.
So earlier this year Tastemade shook up its production process over a two-month period, and re-oriented it around longer content. The hope was that Facebook would keep putting Tastemade clips in people’s feeds, and that the content would be good enough to keep people’s attention for more than a few seconds — and thus good enough to feature ‘mid-roll ads’.
When videos from partners run 90 seconds or more, Facebook now inserts ads during video breaks, similar to TV ads. This is especially top of mind now that Facebook is pushing original series via its new longer-video-centric Facebook Watch platform.
“We were optimised for the Facebook news feed,” added Jay Holzer, Tastemade head of production. “That meant grabbing people thumbing through Facebook on their phones with arresting images, hoping they stick around for a few seconds. We had developed a good set of best practices around that.”
“You can’t just make 45-second videos 90 seconds,” said Oren Katzeff, Tastemade’s head of programming. “That would be a terrible experience. “
Luckily, Tastemade started out as a food-centric network built primarily on YouTube. So it had been producing content with the help of influencers that was longer than the early Facebook video fare.
Plus, Tastemade was an early Snapchat partner, where it’s been experimenting with longer (in relative terms) original series, such as “Frankie’s World,” a show featuring the digital influencer Frankie Celenza digging into the science of cooking.
“This is all more about changing our process around watch time,” said Fitzgibbon. This has been in the works for a while, he added. “You may be able to generate views or clicks. But watch time is the ultimate measure of whether you are entertaining people. So we’ve thought about, how do we tell stories and create a monetisation opportunity. It was evolutionary.”
For Facebook specifically, Tastemade has started not only going longer with its instructional, recipe clips, but also breaking them into acts — much like a TV show. Videos now have to deliver something interesting right away, but leave people hanging a bit so they will hang around after a mid-roll break.
“You need a set up and a tease,” Holzer said. “It’s very similar to TV. You need a payoff after the ad.”
That’s even more true for Facebook Watch shows, some of which run a whopping five, 10, or 15 minutes.
It’s very early, but Tastemade is seeing some solid traction with Watch. For example, the show “Struggle Meals” which features Celenza prepping quick meals for under $US2, has seen several of its early episodes generate over one million views each.
Now Tastemade just needs to start generating some more checks from Facebook.
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