During an opening-day keynote at NATPE, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy Ricky Van Veen said the social media giant’s algorithm can filter out spoilers from users’ news feeds to ensure a more seamless viewing experience.
“If you haven’t seen Episode 5 yet, you won’t see your friend’s comment on Episode 5,” he told moderator and BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield. “Those are really easy things to do that no one has really done yet because it’s hard when you’re having conversation and viewing in two different places. Hopefully, we can make some of those value-adds for the Facebook viewer and the TV viewer come together.” (A spokesperson later clarified that the feature is not currently active on Facebook, but is something the company is testing.)
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Van Veen, who founded College Humor, said the much-debated changes to Facebook’s algorithm, which were announced late last week, will have little to no impact overall on Watch.
The integration of social interaction and programming was the central theme of the session, which was longer on anecdote than on statistics. One data point that did emerge was view time: average viewing times for 20-minute episodes on Watch is 17 minutes, Van Veen said. “That shocked us, when we saw that,” he said.
Greenfield asked about advertising, which Facebook is starting to roll out. “We’re learning,” Van Veen said, offering few more details. ‘We’re committed to making things work for creators, because if we don’t, they’ll go somewhere else.” As to viewer reaction, he shrugged, “If they feel they’re getting value for their time, they’re happy. If they don’t, they’re not happy.”
The programming approach, he said, will remain resolutely social-minded. He cited a new show featuring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Tom Vs. Time. Scripted shows are starting to slowly fill the pipeline, but they are unlikely to ever be a majority piece of the offering.
“We’re not going to win by competing with prestige, hour-long dramas,” Van Veen said.
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