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Moneyball for “TV”: How Facebook Can Change The Way Shows Get Made Forever

Facebook’s drumbeat towards dominance within the video space is now a full on march and they’re closer than ever to the throne with Anthology. The ability to use ad insights to improve brand creative so that it resonates with audiences is only a stone’s throw from using all the data they own to make more successful shows. This would be a complete disruption of the entire content development cycle and dramatically change the way that networks, studios and other creators operate. Here’s how it looks and why it matters.


 Facebook has census-like scale and more data points on individual affinity than anyone else in the world.

Forget focus groups, Nielsen ratings and a strategy that relies on derivatives to drive success and imagine a process, driven by “the graph” that can credibly link together all the content– videos, articles, photos and music—a particular segment likes and then enrich that with other things they’re passionate about. For example, if you were a network exec or production house looking to make a show for young, adult women and were told that 90% of women 18-34 consume over 75% of the beauty content on Facebook and 60% of them also actively engaged weekly with sentimental videos about becoming a parent for the first time, the data points would suggest that a makeover show for new moms would perform well.

A predictive marketplace for content could then become the secret weapon used to fuel original content for Facebook’s own OTT network OR become a B2B extension aimed at networks and studios who want to tap into more of the “science” of making shows while they contemplate the art.

Why content creators and distributors should embrace it.

A more sophisticated move towards “smart data” vs “dumb data” means a higher probability of delivering shows to market that will succeed and a better outcome for the brands that buy them. The content economy is experiencing both a major influx of creators and ever fragmenting consumption platforms. Major production companies and networks are losing their grip on the entertainment cycle. Predictive profiles may, however, help them to more effectively compete.

In a sense, the closer that content creators/publishers/distributors are willing to partner with Facebook, the greater the return they’ll see with regard to predictive analysis that includes engagement with their own brands. For example, Buzzfeed as an “Instant Article” partner could be one of the first beneficiaries of a richer predictive profile that could help shape their original video content strategy.

What this means if Facebook goes OTT

As Facebook begins to look more like an OTT provider or full on TV network, the predictive offering only gets smarter. Not only will they be able to connect data points around demo breaks, rich affinity profiles and engagement behaviors, they’ll actually know what you watch (and for how long). This would essentially mean end-to-end domination of the entire cycle of creation, discovery and measurement.

Facebook and “TV” would likely still remain longtime frenemies.


While the networks and OTT providers fear of Facebook deciding to compete with them is real, so is the possibility of co-existence. If Facebook can help guarantee better performing content through a predictive offering, it can drive its own success while “boosting” the success of the ecosystem at large. This is of course, is only a possibility if Facebook makes this offering available to anyone other than, well…Facebook.

The elephants in the room, AKA “Art” and Nielsen.

Don’t get us wrong, art still plays an important part in the creation of content that resonates, but now, in this model, it has better beacons. There’s a real danger to relying too heavily on data as it tends to suppress originality, so the key is making sure the data is only used to suggest how and where the art might begin, providing a new place from which to start, ideate and develop. Failure upon execution remains a reality, keeping the art a critical part of the mix.

Nielsen on the other hand should worry. Panel based measurement goes out the window and census level measurement takes hold. It’s a digital model applied to what is becoming, and will be, ultimately the “TV” measurement of the future. Privacy will be a hurdle, albeit likely a small one, as the population comfortably makes this value exchange daily.

Shows get better, measurement becomes more transparent and a potential rising tide lifts all boats…or so it seems. Stay tuned.


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