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Facebook Watch Is Death to Old TV Measurement and Birth of Audience Parting

Today Facebook launches Watch, a new platform for Facebook users to consume episodic content on the network and for content producers to distribute and monetize their videos. The tech company is finally unveiling its biggest move in its maturing media business, with Watch as a formidable competitor to the Nielsen-driven legacy TV model.

As we’ve said on TVREV before, from an influx in premium video and increasing over-the-top (OTT) to now TV Everywhere expansion — this was an inevitable evolution of Facebook’s video strategy, responding to the increasing content-to-noise ratio facing consumers with seemingly limitless video choices. Already Mashable has confirmed ATTN, BuzzFeed, Refinery29, Tastemade, and Group Nine (which overseas Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, and Seeker) are involved. Quartz, Cheddar, and Conde Nast have publicly shared their new series on Watch.

But, let’s fast forward a bit.

It’s May 2018, and Facebook is taking the stage at its first big Upfront-type presentation, crowd full of bright-eyed media buyers and sellers with drinks raised.

The Facebook team takes the stage and proclaims: We’re 9 months from the launch of “Watch” and now, a whole new era of Audience Insights, Brand Affinity, and true attribution to “watching” is unfolding before us.

Facebook isn’t just competing in the Nielsen-dominated legacy world of television, they’re smashing the old model and charging through as the leader in the new Attention Economy.

Thousands of new channels and shows have been developed and tested over the past year with daily video views exceeding 15 billion. Facebook is serving video to hundreds of millions of people, around the world, daily in a systematic and deeply targeted manner where audiences can be segmented by age, location, and interests.

Oh and measurement? They’ve got that covered too.

With a new TV-comparable producer’s dashboard from third-party video measurement partners like Delmondo, media publishers can measure the Average-Minute-Audience for videos on Facebook and track audiences and consumption habits no matter if it’s 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year post air date.

There’s no question about sample size or journal reporting. There’s an authenticated, identifiable universe of billions who are now connected to the world’s largest multi-band cable provider.

We now know who people are, what they’re watching, with who, how long, where they’re located and a deluge of other info that all amounts to an incredible dataset for any advertiser or programmer.

Ads and content are served up to specific audiences, based on their demographic profiles and their activity on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook’s various ad products are then able to determine which users reacted to the ads, what their reactions were and then add those learnings back to the database to increase its future accuracy.

With Facebook Watch, the era of audience parting has truly arrived.

 

Jesse Redniss and I have written about the concept of Audience Parting and Facebook’s opportunity many times before:

For decades, it’s been same old, same old for the people buying and selling TV advertising. “Day parting” (buying and selling ads for specific times of day) to try and target the audience you think you want, based purely on those time slots Nielsen says resonate the most with your target audience. Want to reach senior? Try daytime TV. High school kids? 3 to 6 PM.

It was …keyword… was the perfect formula for an era where we didn’t know all that much about audiences, and when TV, radio, and print were the only ways to reach them.

With the future of Watch, that old mindset will erode.

Facebook is no longer just another social network. It’s a bonafide streaming service, positioning themselves much like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu did in their early days: Line up a set of premium content partners as you build a distribution network and scale up as the go-to choice for consumption. Unlike Netflix or Hulu, Facebook starts with 2 billion people already hooked.

Only with Facebook, there’s an entire ecosystem of mobile apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger that build a connected experience. With innovations in casting technology, consumers can get all that premium long-form content from their phones to a Smart TV, Chromecast, or Apple TV with a simple swipe.

So are the Golden Globes and Emmys in the future for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, like it has been for Amazon? Do they really care? After all, the entire world is the golden goose for Facebook right now.