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Facebook Live on TV: What It Means for Broadcasters

December 22nd, 2016   ||    by Todd Wasserman   ||    No Comments

Can seeing Facebook Live on TV prompt someone to use Facebook Live more often in their own life?

This fall, Facebook launched its largest-yet TV ad campaign, for Facebook Live. The social network has aired more than 20 ads for the service, according to Digiday, for a total of more than 1,700 screenings. Facebook has tried to push its own technologies before—notably an ill-fated Snapchat competitor called Poke (reported at the time by The Verge)—but its use of TV advertising to push a product is different.

The likely reason for this is that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees live streaming as the next big opportunity in media, as well as an entree into virtual reality. It could also be considered tacit admission from the world’s largest social network that TV still matters.

Foreign and Domestic

While live streaming video is still a burgeoning technology in the U.S., it’s a full-blown craze in China. In June 2016, some 46 percent of China’s Internet population used a live streaming app, explains Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Credit Suisse has predicted live streaming will become a $5 billion market in China in 2017, reported Business Insider.

Ironically, it was a U.S. company, Meerkat, that spurred the trend in China. When developing a template for its Messenger, Facebook considered the use of messaging as a platform for e-commerce and other services in China. But as of late 2016, both live streaming and efforts to make Messenger a platform for activities outside of messaging appear to still be in their early stages.

Facebook and TV

Facebook has a platform of 1.7 billion users, including a little more than half of the U.S. population, according to eMarketer. Wired explains how the social media company has already used its own platform to push Facebook Live by sending users a notification every time a friend uses the new service. Facebook has also had a bona fide viral video on Facebook Live with the Chewbacca Mom in May (as reported by NPR) and has inked $50 million in yearlong contracts with 140 celebs to create Facebook Live content.

The use of TV advertising, however, shows that these efforts have not been enough to stir the base. Despite the misconception that TV advertising may no longer be effective, a Turner Broadcasting study—summarized on IRi recently—found that one out of five social engagements for brands are still directly driven by TV ads. The study also found that TV return on investment (ROI) hasn’t changed much in the last five years, and reduced TV spending results in lower sales.

In Facebook’s case, TV might be even more effective because there’s an implicit call to action. QSR explains comScore has found that TV advertising leveraging digital touch points can boost effective reach by 16 percent.

For advertisers, Facebook’s use of TV illustrates that the advertising landscape grew very complicated indeed in 2016. While digital is an effective means of communicating with consumers, TV still has a role to play—even for the world’s biggest social network.

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