afaqs! news bureau

The future of video is social

It is going to be a video-led world on social media, believes Facebook. In this session, the head of news partnerships, Facebook India, is grilled by Ashwini Gangal about why and how.

Manish Khanduri, a former journalist, who worked as a corporate strategist for and CNN Mobile is now the head of news partnerships, Facebook India. Khanduri took the stage at the 2nd edition of Digipub World, held in Delhi on September 20 and 21, to emphasize why the future of video is social.

Khanduri opened the proceedings with a brief presentation of what Facebook has been doing over the past year. With three new launches, Facebook underlined how serious it is about video and how it focuses on video as the online social conversation point.

The future of video is social

Facebook's Manish Khanduri with Ashwini Gangal at Digipub World

Khanduri quoted Mark Zuckerberg. 'Time spent is not a goal by itself. We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions.' Facebook's focus, said Khanduri, is to build and enable video experiences that connect people.

The first of the products off the blocks was Facebook Watch. Launched last August in the US, it now boasts of over 50 million monthly viewers who watch at least a minute of video within Watch. "Since the beginning of the year, total time spent viewing videos in Watch is up by 14x," said Khanduri. Watch is Facebook's answer to YouTube, is now available worldwide.

Three months ago, Facebook unleashed IGTV, a new app through which users can share long-form, vertical video with their Instagram fans. The videos are full screen, vertical-only and longer than those on Feed or Stories - up to ten minutes or more. Facebook believes that "it helps build deeper connections with your followers."

FB Premieres, a very new format lets creators pre-record and edit content and then schedule it to release at a certain time as a live event. "Premieres has been very interestingly used by creators around the world. It showcases content that you want to popularise. For instance, PBS in the US has used this to launch their Season 2 series but the initial portion that they broadcast was on Facebook Watch," revealed Khanduri, adding, "we launched something called creator studio last month. It is a one-stop solution that helps creators to track their programs, monetise them better, track their rights, track their engagements - it also helps streamline your publishing as well."

Excerpts from Khanduri's conversation with moderator Ashwini Gangal, executive editor,

The kind of content that FB is betting big on

There is a stage and a place for everything. There is a place for short-form content, there is a place for middle- to long-form content. Watch is a place where we are looking at the middle- to long-form content. This is a very significant transformation by the way in terms of engagement.

Discovery in terms of content is something that everybody does. Where we would like to differentiate is to essentially to find out the engagement part of content - and content viewing. What this means is that we have created surfaces where audiences will watch video, not only in isolation, but watch videos while sharing it.

Let me differentiate. What you see on your newsfeed is content that just turns up and is content that you may not be engaged with. Watch is supposed to be the place where all of Facebook's videos will ultimately live in a format that will transform video viewing in the exact way that the newsfeed transformed engagements. We have seen that the average watch video period is five times more than news feeds. The total minutes being consumed in terms of people watching video has grown 14 times of what it was last year.

Genres that will work

Let me give you a couple of examples. There was Ball in the Family and Tom versus Time. The latter was about Tom Brady, the quarterback and how he prepares off season. Ball in the Family is a web series that premiered August last year. The show documents the personal and professional lives of the Ball family.

So, there is a lot of content that go behind the scenes, or content with fans and communities and or content by which people engage with each other. These will work. We are very conscious at Facebook that we are not editorial. We do classify genres classify as news, sports, entertainment, but we do the classification with a view to analyse what is working on the platform. And what is working better than another genre.

The monetisation strategy...

Ad breaks is something that we have recently launched. Ad break is fundamentally the central piece of our strategy to help creators monetise the content. They go hand in hand. At the moment, the strategy we are using is the mid roll.

The psychology of OTT viewing in India is solo or private, while TV is family viewing...

There are two parts to that query. As we design strategies, there is a lot of stuff that gets tweaked, based on local market conditions. For example, Watch is performing fantastically in south-east Asian countries.

Technology, per se, also changes in terms of how viewing happens. TV, when it started off, was a group experience. Then, at one stage, it became more of a solo thing with the proliferation of double-income-no-kid households. Now it is shifting back.

We think there is a great amount of traction if we create a sort of platform where we give people the opportunity to share the content while they are watching it. That is reflected in the numbers that we are seeing at the moment. Coming to the psychology of OTT viewing, I think there are different user sets. It need not be solo, necessarily.

It is competitive in the OTT space. How will you differentiate?

The point is that where we are going to differentiate ourselves is that for us the experience of watching video is not just one-on-one. It is watching it together and then sharing it. We have done a lot of stuff with that. In Premieres, we have seen a lot of traction. When Premieres happens a lot of people come in, community of fans who comment on what is happening.

So, build those communities, build those platforms and then monetise them. Because those audiences are really engaged and those are specific. For us discovery and individual viewing is one aspect and the shorter form of content is important. But we are betting on engagement sharing and slightly long form content.

Digipub World 2018 was partnered by - (platinum partner); Akamai and Facebook (silver partners); and Freshworks, Vidooly, comScore, Quintype, Times Internet, and 24 Frames Digital (bronze partners).

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