Publishers Drive Early Wins With Facebook Live

LiveFacebook wants brands to know that its live-streaming platform is more than a free-for-all for unfettered personal broadcasts.

Publisher partners are finding value when they augment Facebook Live within a larger content distribution strategy, even if monetization as a whole remains in test mode.

“Facebook Live is a form of branded content for us, and in many ways, we’re leading with it because it’s new and interesting,” said Matt Minoff, SVP of digital platforms and strategy for Meredith Corp. “Rather than plot out a 10-part video series or text and content series with an advertiser, we can say, ‘Let’s put together an actual live broadcast that involves our audience and your brand.’”

Meredith has aired more than 26 experiences on Facebook Live to date, for properties such as Martha Stewart Living & Weddings, Better Homes and Gardens, Shape and Allrecipes.

Its first live broadcast reached more than 1 million viewers at over 14,000 engagements with a Martha Stewart Living segment.

Minoff’s theory is that most of the media companies’ early success with Facebook Live – Meredith’s live broadcasts have generated more than 8.2 million collective views – stems from a built-in audience base.

“Most of our brands have several million followers already attached to their social handle, so when we create a piece of live content, it immediately propagates throughout the entire ecosystem,” he said.

While every platform is making a play for live video, Facebook’s mobile alerts and notifications lead consumers to feel as if they’re setting an appointment to watch broadcast-caliber programming, said Melinda Lee, SVP and GM of video for Meredith.

The behavioral mechanics are different, too, in a feed-based environment as opposed to an archival/search-based destination like YouTube.

MelindaLee“There’s still a lot of social currency that goes around,” Lee said. “When people are watching live, you see more commenting, less sharing. It has that community feel that you’re connecting in real time.”

Weighing The Cost And Return Of Facebook Live

Publisher LittleThings, which targets 30-somethings with feel-good videos, stories, recipes and DIY pointers, was one of Facebook’s first 50 partners for Instant Articles and is testing out the live video feature.

LittleThings has between 25 and 30 employees dedicated to video production, with about 12 who work on live video. At this point, it’s going live at least once if not multiple times per day on Facebook.

Although LittleThings isn’t clocking millions of views yet for live video, the way it has with newsfeed video, live video yields more engagement in the form of likes and shares.

LittleThings’ native videos usually get around 2 million to 3 million views and 100 to 200 comments, whereas a Facebook Live video might get only 50,000 views but 1,000 comments, because people are more engaged.

Facebook certainly values the interactive nature of live video, particularly when it’s consumed by 1.7 billion users, and is paying content producers to drum up more of it. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Facebook has contracts with about 140 media companies and creators, totaling more than $50 million.

Still, publishers like LittleThings and media moguls like Martha Stewart want more diverse compensation models for their original video content.

JoeSpeiser“We’re running a profitable media business here, so the idea of giving away our content for free without ads is foreign to us,” said Joe Speiser, founder and CEO of LittleThings. “Even though Facebook Live is costing us more than it’s making for us right now, we’re still investing a lot of money to build specific content for it with the sole purpose of [preparing for] monetization in the future.”

A few AdExchanger sources say Facebook is beta-testing ads in Facebook Live streams, though it hasn’t revealed the details officially.

Facebook’s being very deliberate about its live video releases. In Speiser’s view, “they don’t want to ruin something before it’s taken off.”

He predicts that Facebook will let publishers like LittleThings decide when to take a commercial break and then fill that spot with either a 15-second-or-less video ad that the publisher fills directly or a Facebook house ad. This gives the publisher control over when to make those breaks, instead of forcing a view through a pre-or post-roll.

LittleThingsscreen“That was one of the reasons why we hired seven new direct salespeople,” he said. “We’re keeping in mind that if we’re doing a cooking show about 12 unique ways to cook bacon, that bacon should be sponsored by Oscar Mayer or Hormel. It could be a simple product placement, but it’s another way for the publisher to take advantage of the format directly.”

 Live Video: Broadcast’s Version Of Branded Content

Although Facebook Live’s less than a year old, one emerging use case is the product tie-in. Like a QVC, it has an air of immediacy.

Several of Meredith’s Martha Stewart video spots were sponsored by brands like ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda and Reynolds Consumer Products, which markets Reynolds Wrap. But brand integrations aren’t limited to lifestyle brands and consumer products.

Sports leagues globally are getting in on Facebook Live action, too.

The Cronulla Sharks are one of 16 professional rugby teams that are part of the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia.

Several entities own the broadcast rights to live-stream NRL games, including a consortium that consists of the ARL Commission, News Corp. Australia, FOX Sports and Aussie telco Telstra.

smAfter Facebook launched a live-streaming API at F8 in April, the rugby team used Ooyala to live-stream post-game recaps and pre-game features to Facebook using commercial-grade camera equipment.

Although game day is the “crown jewel” for a professional rugby league, according to Scott Maxworthy, head of digital commercialization for the Cronulla Sharks, it’s hard for a league to get around rights restrictions with live game content.

So the league is experimenting with pre-game features on Facebook Live where, for instance, a media personality chats with one of Cronulla’s cheerleaders behind the scenes or interviews a player on the field.

“The reach on one of our pre-game videos was about half a million people, and we found [the live stream] increased traffic to our main website when our fear was that it would erode it,” he said. “Our [next] goal [with Facebook Live] is to enrich the game day experience by delivering the fan perspective while the game is on, or club-specific commentary that’s not in breach of the broadcasting right.”

Maxworthy believes branded content that natively matches the Facebook Live stream will be most successful.

For example, it created a branded reel with an Australian cinema brand HOYTS that aggregated fan content, game highlights and a single movie review.

“The theme of the show was social entertainment, so you can introduce a partner like HOYTS into that conversation without using a disruptive ad,” Maxworthy said. “[Facebook Live] has become a game day marketing activity leading into our big event. It sort of lends itself as a second screen.”

Facebook declined to comment for this story.

1 Comment

  1. Traction Labs Inc

    Live stream is still in its early stages; brands and publishers are clearly excited by the technology but this article shows that a payment platform to secure revenue still needs to be ironed out.

    Reply

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