Internal Emails Shine Light On Facebook’s Approach to Sharing and Selling Data With Developers

Your personal data has always been the key to Facebook’s business — and Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have used access to that personal data to strengthen strategic partnerships and hurt competitors over the years. At one point, Zuckerberg even considered selling users’ personal data to outside app developers.

That much was clear from a new trove of internal Facebook emails and other documents released by British lawmakers Wednesday. The documents had previously been sealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Facebook in California, but were made public by Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which collected the documents last week.

“I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents,” tweeted Damian Collins, the committee’s chair. “They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data [sic], their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.”

The emails, which mostly date from 2012 to 2015, include conversations from Facebook’s top executives about the company’s developer tools and data-sharing practices before widespread changes were made to limit access to some user data in early 2015.

A Facebook blog post says the emails were “cherrypicked” from the lawsuit and represent “only one side of the story.”

“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post published Wednesday. “But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do — including the explanation of these internal documents — doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives. This was an important change to protect our community, and it achieved its goal.”

read more here: www.recode.net

Facebook sees video growth but admits it is still ‘well behind YouTube’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is seeing video expand dramatically across its ecosystem, but admitted that while its dedicated Watch service is growing quickly it is still “well behind YouTube”.

Speaking on the company’s third quarter earnings call, Zuckerberg reiterated that video is one of Facebook’s key priorities for its core app along with a much bigger focus on communities and groups.

However, he said that Facebook has had “challenges” reconciling passive video consumption with “what people uniquely want from us, which is meaningful social interactions.”

“Video has grown a lot on our services, but we hit a dynamic where when it grows in Feeds and Facebook and Instagram, it displaces some social interactions and people tell us it makes the experience less valuable even though they’re spending more time on it.”

The company’s solution to this has been to build separate video experiences with the launch of Facebook Watch and Instagram’s IGTV – a strategy that seem to be paying off, even though these services still trail their established rivals.

“What we found is that when people seek out video experiences intentionally, they don’t displace social interactions as much and the quality of the experience is generally higher,” said Zukerberg.

“Watch has really hit its stride and it’s growing incredibly quickly, about three-times in the last few months in the US alone. IGTV is still earlier in its development, but I think we have a good sense of how to make it work as well.

“To be clear, these services are still well behind YouTube, which is our primary competitor in this space, but they’re growing very quickly.”

Another issue flagged by Zuckerberg on the call was that video monetises “significantly less well per-minute than people interacting in feeds” – a factor that means as video grows it will displace services that would probably be greater revenue generators for the company.

This is just one of the major shifts Facebook predicted for its business over time, as it noted that the way people are connecting is also moving more to private messaging and Stories.

“People feel more comfortable being themselves when they know their content will only be seen by a smaller group and when their content won’t stick around forever,” said Zuckerberg. “Messaging and Stories make up the vast majority of growth in the sharing that we are seeing.”

Last quarter, Facebook shared for the first time the number of people who use at least one of its apps each month – a metric that Zuckerberg said is a “better way to measure our community over time” as so many people use more than one of Facebook’s apps.

Facebook said it now estimates that more than 2.6 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month, and more than 2 billion people use at least one of its family of services every day on average.

read more here: digitaltveurope.com

Facebook sued over inflated video figures

Facebook was fully aware of inaccuracies in the way it measured how many users viewed video on its platform for a much longer than it has previously admitted, new court documents have claimed.

In September 2016, Facebook confessed that it had overestimated how much video its users had watched for the previous two years. But newly released papers that are part of a US legal action against the social media giant, claim that it knew about the problems as far back as 2013.

The error affected a Facebook metric called “average duration of video viewed”, which was supposed to tell publishers for how long, on average, people had watched a video. However, the metric did not include viewers who had watched for less than three seconds in the count. Discounting the shorter views – including people who had ignored a video in their news feed – boosted the average viewing times for each video. It was also criticised for counting a video as being viewed after three seconds.

Now, a number of advertisers are suing Facebook for unfair business conduct and fraud. As part of their case, they have viewed thousands of internal Facebook records and claim these show the company knew about the issue in 2015.

The plaintiffs claim that a Facebook engineering manager followed up on advertisers’ complaints that dated back to early 2015, saying there had been “no progress on the task for a year”.

Facebook developed a “no PR” strategy to avoid drawing attention to the error, according to the court filing.

The plaintiffs case hinges on the fact that the numbers provided by Facebook meant advertisers put more money into its video ads than those on other platforms.

In response, Facebook said: “This lawsuit is without merit and we’ve filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud. Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false.”

Facebook now has a dedicated metrics team in palce, and allows third parties and experts to review its measurements regularly.

read more here: advanced-television.com

Will Interactive Video Right Facebook’s Ship?

With billions of dollars at stake, Facebook is betting its long-term success on content that consumers find more meaningful and engaging. In the short term, that has resulted in sagging consumption rates, slowing revenue growth, and soaring overhead costs.

Yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists that Facebook and its billions of users will ultimately be better off. “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term,” he promised earlier this year.

Key to Zuckerberg’s grand plan is video that users find worthy of their time and attention.

Enter the seven-person team behind Vidpresso, an interactive video firm that Facebook just agreed to “aqui-hire” for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2012, Vidpresso helps publishers and brands soup up their videos with interactive graphics, comments, polls, and the like. As the company notes in a new blog post, the point was always “to make video more like HTML — easier to author, easier to change, and customized per person.”

Likely boding well for Facebook, Vidpresso’s client list is impressive. On the brand side, partners have included BMW, Burger King, and Nasdaq, while publishing partners include NBC News, TED, Fox Sports, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, MTV, Turner Sports, and Reuters.

Along with the Vidpresso deal, Facebook recently began giving content creators tools to turn their videos into game shows.

read more here: www.mediapost.com

Facebook Now Beats YouTube for Video Viewing

It’s time to shift those budgets from YouTube to Facebook, a report suggests. According to a study by Slidely, maker of the Promo video creation platform, 47 percent of viewers say they watch more videos on Facebook now while 41 percent watch more on YouTube (only 8 percent say they watch more on Instagram). It looks like Facebook’s efforts to become the leading video destination are a huge success.

But people don’t simply watch more videos on Facebook now; they also prefer the video ad experience there, as well. While YouTube is known for its easily skipped ads, 71 percent of those surveyed said they find the sponsored videos in their Facebook feed to be relevant or highly relevant to their interests.

“This is fantastic news for marketers because it confirms their paid social budgets are going to good use. Not only are consumers watching sponsored videos, but they’re also finding them relevant (which is, of course, critical to successful marketing),” the report says. “For marketers, this also points to the extreme importance of closely targeting the right users. Consumers have come to expect that sponsored social content be perfectly tailored to their lives and their interests.”

All that video ad viewing is turning into consumer action, as the report finds 70 percent say they sometimes or very often visit the company’s website after watching a video. Also, 60 percent say they sometimes or very often visit the company’s social page after watching a video.

The survey looks at the popular Stories format on Facebook and Instagram, and finds viewing high. While 68 percent say they watch Facebook or Instagram Stories either sometimes or all the time, that number zooms up to 81 percent for those under 34.

view the full report for free online (no registration required).

read more here: onlinevideo.net

Nielsen: Americans Now Spend Nearly 6 Hours Per Day With Video

Americans’ appetite for video just keeps rising. Measurement specialist Nielsen released its Q1 2018 Total Audience Report today, finding that U.S. adults now consume 5 hours 57 minutes of video per day. That’s an increase of 11 minutes per day just in the last quarter.

Of that 5 hours 57 minutes, 4 hours 46 minutes goes to live and time-shifted TV viewing, up 2 minutes this quarter. The biggest gain is with TV-connected devices (including internet-connected devices, game consoles, and DVDs) which average 46 minutes per day, up from 40 minutes last quarter.

Video on a computer gets 10 minutes, video on a phone (either through an app or browser) gets 10 minutes, and tablets get 5 minutes, all of which are fairly flat.

Looking at Americans’ total media diet, Nielsen finds we spend 11 hours 6 minutes each day connected to some kind of media. This figure includes all internet, phone, and radio use. That’s up from 10 hours 47 minutes in the previous quarter.

Two-thirds of U.S. homes own devices that let them stream video to the television set, and 2.7 percent subscribe to a skinny bundle (vMVPD) while 64 percent subscribe to a subscription service (SVOD). Even cord-cutters and cord-nevers find plenty to watch, as over 80 percent of non-TV homes still watch video.

For more, download the full Nielsen report (registration required).

Broadband Households Embrace Alternative Video Sources

According to the 360 Deep Dive: Alternative Content Consumption report, content such as livestreaming, user-generated content, short-form videos and web video series that are available via social networking, video-sharing or similar apps or sites is gaining traction.

For instance, nearly one-half of US broadband households watch user-generated content on a monthly basis, and more than 10% watch livestreamed content. Almost one-quarter of broadband households have posted videos to some type of content site or app within the last 30 days.

“Alternative video is an important part of the video landscape, and it competes with other video options for a share of consumer attention,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research at Parks Associates. “Approximately one-half of households with a TV watch video from YouTube and similar sites on their TV set. In fact, more households watch online video from an app such as YouTube than watch video from a TV channel app.”

Parks Associates data about alternative content consumption shows that adoption of pay-TV declines as the frequency of user-generated content consumption increases. This correlation poses a future threat to pay-TV providers, the report found, as younger respondents are far more likely to watch user-generated content, which could potentially impact their future pay-TV habits and perspectives.

“Younger consumers are far more likely to create their own content as well as watch user-generated content,” Sappington said. “For these viewers, the creation of content is as much a part of the entertainment experience as is watching video. Increasingly, traditional content producers and service providers are leveraging alternative content, in order to connect with audiences and draw viewers. Some are partnering with individual web celebrities and influencers who often have a disproportionately large influence on the user-generated side of the alternative content space.”

The research also found that, at present, only 7% of US broadband households watch sporting events via livestream. And, consumers who view user-generated content are much more likely than those who never watch it to have an OTT service.

read more here: rapidtvnews.com

Majority of Digital Ad Budgets Earmarked for Video

Almost 60% of the digital ad budgets of marketers are allocated to video, and more than half of buyers plan to increase digital and mobile video spending over the next year, according to a new study from the Interactive Ad Bureau.

Per the “Digital Content New Fronts: 2018 Video Ad Spend Study”, advertisers are poised to raise spending on digital video and mobile by 53% compared to two years ago, to an average of more than $10 million annually.

Of that spend, there’s a growing emphasis on original digital video programming, with the vast majority (more than 8 in 10) agreeing that the category is an essential part of their media buy. The biggest drivers there are quality of programming (45%), attractive costs/CPMs (40%), and effective audience reach and quality of environment (38% each).

About half of buyers plan to spend more on social video advertising in the next 12 months.

The study’s findings are based on an online survey of 353 marketer and agency execs conducted from March 6-16. To qualify, those execs had to be involved in digital video ad decision-making at a company responsible for $1 million-plus total ad spend in 2017.

“Marketers’ commitment to digital video—especially original digital video—has been skyrocketing over the past few years,” Anna Bager, executive vice president, industry initiatives, IAB, said in a statement. “These findings reflect consumers’ enthusiasm for the dynamic storytelling which original video programming delivers in spades, and the power of the medium to deliver strong ROI. There is no question that we will see buyers out in full force throughout this week’s NewFronts presentations, as they look to invest more and more of their budgets in the latest original digital video programming opportunities.”

read more here: multichannel.com

Is Facebook’s Latest Algo Change A Paid-Media Apocalypse?

When Facebook said it would change its news feed algorithm to prioritize users’ families’ and friends’ posts, advertisers worried it would also affect how paid placements are bought and sold.

Would this reduce the amount of available inventory? Would it drive up costs?

Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, sought to assuage the marketers and publishers attending AdExchanger’s Industry Preview conference Wednesday.

“The ad game isn’t going to change,” she said. “If you take a real step back, on the ad side of the business, the [ad-ranking] algorithm has always tried to optimize in terms of the value to people.”

As always, she said, the more relevant the creative is to its target audience, the lower the price an advertiser will pay.

“Mark [Zuckerberg] foreshadowed this news feed algorithm change a couple of times over the last few months,” Everson said. “The news feed algorithm change is meant to drive what we call meaningful interactions.”

Facebook defines meaningful interactions as content that elicits a positive reaction from people, and while that typically entails content from friends and family, it could also include brand messaging.

“A meaningful interaction could be and often is a new product or service you want to buy,” Everson said.

So, brands must do a better job figuring out how to create content that resonates.

The initiative is part and parcel with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public 2018 resolution to “fix” Facebook.

The company’s mission used to be connecting people, Everson noted – but that’s not good enough in today’s divided society: “Connecting people to what?”

Cross-Platform Measurement And Other initiatives

Everson also outlined Facebook’s focus on other issues heading into 2018. She anticipated that cross-platform measurement will be a top advertiser request.

“Last year was about getting the third-party verification and getting [accreditation from] the MRC,” she said. With much of that infrastructure work completed, Facebook can focus on building cross-platform measurement and attribution.

The problem is that there isn’t a common system of measurement running across platforms, and that’s an issue Facebook hopes to further address in 2018.

As for other KPIs, such as viewability, Everson noted that traditional companies tend to focus on it more than digital natives.

“When I talk to Netflix, Airbnb and Amazon, they know exactly what happens when they put a dollar into our system,” she said. “The more traditional companies who don’t have a closed loop, who don’t have the end retail data, need to use proxy measures. Viewability verification never comes up with the disruptors, but often with the more traditional companies.”

And if there’s one thing advertisers want from Facebook, it’s access to more data. Everson drew a line: Facebook has no intention of selling data and will protect PII data, a “core foundation of the company.”

She used a football analogy: PII is at the 1-yard line, and that’s where data sharing stops. But, she said, there are “99 other yards of opportunities to work together.”

Those opportunities, she said, include providing enough data so advertisers can measure reach and frequency across campaigns and assess what they are getting for their ad spend on Facebook versus on other platforms or television.

read more here: adexchanger.com

2018 Will Be a Pivotal Year for Facebook’s Video Ambitions

Last February, during an earnings call with investors, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined why his company was making significant investments in video: “I see video as a megatrend,” Zuckerberg said. “That’s why I’m going to keep putting video first across our family of apps.”

Heeding his word, Facebook ramped up the investment it was making in video throughout the year. Even more so than it did in 2016, when Facebook first started paying publishers and other video makers to create content, Facebook poured a lot of money into becoming a video destination that could rival existing giants such as YouTube and Netflix. In a wave that was reminiscent of how Verizon started cutting checks for its Go90 streaming service, Facebook bought a lot of original content to populate its new YouTube-esque video-viewing section Watch.

But as Verizon has learned with Go90 and Facebook itself learned with its failed efforts to make Facebook Live happen, just because you build something, it doesn’t mean viewers will come in droves. Plenty of Watch shows have the high view counts that the industry has become accustomed to thanks to Facebook’s three-second view metric, but a significant majority of these views are still happening within the news feed, according to multiple publishing sources. As much as Facebook wants users to go to Watch, users haven’t obliged — which has prompted Facebook to push for even bigger projects with bigger budgets for Watch.

But while Facebook has the money to spend — and reportedly plans to spend a billion dollars through 2018 to make its video dreams a reality — the checkbook alone doesn’t build a video-streaming platform. Zuckerberg might envision Facebook as a video-first company in the future, but how Facebook’s video efforts fare in 2018 will do a lot to decide what type of video company Facebook becomes.

Is Facebook trying to be YouTube? Or Netflix?

When Facebook first started licensing shows for Watch, it was primarily seeking short-form series — something Zuckerberg himself acknowledged during the same February earnings call. Facebook declined to specify how many shows it has funded, but it’s safe to say Facebook has commissioned well over a hundred shows from partners that include Attn, BuzzFeed, Group Nine Media, Mashable and Vox Media. A large majority of these shows broadly fit within the unscripted and lifestyle genres — formats that are cheap to produce and appear all over YouTube.

That approach hasn’t panned out for Facebook, which is now telling video sellers it wants bigger shows with bigger budgets in 2018.

“It was very clear that the goal was to kind of build a YouTube-esque video network off the back of the news feed — and that failed,” said a publishing executive at a Watch partner. “They confessed that they were working with a lot of people who did not know how to produce quality video. So now, it’s ‘we don’t want to build YouTube on the back of Facebook, we want to build Netflix on the back of Facebook’ — that’s a far more difficult proposition to be successful at, and it’s a hell of a lot more costly.”

More so than getting users to regularly go to the Watch section on their computers or smartphones, Facebook’s success in this area hinges on convincing people to fire up the Facebook app for connected TV devices. People still want to watch TV shows on TV-sized screens, and that is something they simply do not expect from Facebook right now.

read more here: digiday.com