The following is an excerpt from our “Putting video in context – Q3 trends update” report.

In 2016, Zuckerberg predicted that within five years, content on Facebook would be mostly video. When looking at Facebook’s recent video moves, it is not hard to see this vision becoming a reality.


Autoplaying video ads in Messenger

After testing static ads in Messenger last year, the company took things a step further by starting to place autoplaying video ads in Messenger. Facebook appears optimistic about the new feature, with Stefanos Loukakos, Head of Messenger Business, saying that the company will monitor user behaviour to determine if these ads turn people off.

“Top priority for us is user experience, so we don’t know yet [if these will work]. However, signs until now, when we tested basic ads, didn’t show any changes with how people used the platform or how many messages they sent. Video might be a bit different, but we don’t believe so.”

Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Facebook’s VP of Product Marketing, says video is becoming the preferred medium for product discovery on mobile.

“People now expect a personalized and visually inspiring experience wherever they shop – whether they’re on their phone or in-store, which is why video will play an increasingly important role in the mobile shopping experience.”


Instagram’s IGTV

Billed as ‘the next generation of video’, Instagram’s IGTV is a standalone app that features longer videos up to an hour in length, which are all in the same vertical format that was pioneered by Snapchat.

Some commentators have noted how Facebook and Instagram had already introduced their own versions of several Snapchat features, but IGTV has been perceived as a competitor to YouTube. The full-screen vertical format makes it mobile-first, and the content is curated to focus on creators that you already follow or your interests.


AR ads and new video tool

Facebook has given a select number of advertisers access to augmented reality (AR) ads that run in the News Feed. The AR element of the ads uses camera effects so that users can virtually try out different aspects of a product, and then take an action via the ad.

The company is also testing a new tool, Video Creation Kit, that will help brands create mobile video ads using existing images and video footage. The tool allows advertisers to create video ads optimised for mobile view- viewing using existing images and video footage.


Marketing increasingly looks beyond the news feeds

In May 2018, at Facebook’s F8 conference, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox showed that Stories was growing 15 times faster than feeds, adding: “The Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.”

In fact, the Stories format is increasingly being described as the format of the future. Instagram now has more than 300 million daily active Stories users, WhatsApp Stories has more than 450 million daily users, there are 70 million on Facebook Messenger and around 150 million using Stories on Snapchat, who pioneered the format.


Research by digital agency Block Party found that more than 1.12 billion accounts across Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook and Facebook Messenger consume or create Stories content, which represents a growth of 987% since early 2016. Between Q2 2016 and Q3 2017, the agency peg the growth of feed formats on social media platforms as 28%, compared to a growth of 434% for Stories.

An increasing number of brands are being creative with how they are using the Stories format. Download the report to see some examples. The new highlights feature lets users save Stories to the grid permanently, meaning that the format can help brands build content libraries and users can still find older content should they wish.


Efforts to combat the dominance of Facebook and Google take shape

AT&T’s recent purchase of AppNexus is considered as a key development for the ad tech industry. Following the $85 billion purchase of Time Warner in June, the company confirmed its purchase of AppNexus, a deal estimated to be worth anywhere up to $2 billion.

Its vast network, coupled with the AppNexus programmatic platform, puts AT&T in a great position to combat the dominance of Facebook and Google. According to AT&T, the acquisition of AppNexus is part of a strategy to build a first-of-its-kind marketplace for television and digital video advertising.

Brian Lesser, the CEO of AT&T’s advertising and analytics group, said in an interview that the company’s ambition is not just to help boost ad revenue from its own content but to create a platform that also connects advertisers with audiences from rival media outlets, across television and digital video.

“Right now if you are a buyer at an agency or an advertiser you have lots of great options in front of you in terms of audience-based television and video, but they’re not connected.”

Download the full report