May 15, 2017 Jenny Mccoy

4 Emerging Trends in Facebook Live Video Viewership Behavior

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Facebook Live has enjoyed mass adoption, a huge evolution in production quality and a spike in streaming frequency since the feature rolled out to brands and Chewbacca moms alike last year. We know Facebook Live is an important vehicle for increasing brands’ post reach, but as more and more brands turn the corner from trial and exploration to establishing steady programming and consistent viewership, we’ve been preparing to help them win the next big Facebook Live race: monetization.

In October, Delmondo rolled out our Facebook Live analytics offering to help monetize live and since then, we’ve analyzed the viewership trends of thousands of streams with a focus on concurrent viewers. Similar to TV revenue models, we expect that the first winners of Facebook Live monetization will be able to show advertisers that they are not only successful in bringing an audience in, but that they can sustain the audience’s interest throughout the stream. Further, they’ll be able to predict viewership peaks and price ads during these segments accordingly.

Live streams have taken us to the front row of protests, helped us figure out how many rubber bands it takes to make a watermelon explode and forever altered our collective video library of Things Melting. To date, success of these widely varied efforts has been scored by view counts, but view counts alone tell a very limited story that can often be paired directly with the built-in reach of a brands’ publishing network rather than the stream’s content.

Below are four key trends we’ve identified while viewing Facebook Live streams through a concurrent viewer lens, a lens we expect to become more and more important as brands race to monetize their Facebook Live efforts.

Quadrant 1: Things Melting/Static Polls. You’re successful in getting the audience to show up, but your content is unsuccessful in keeping the initial audience’s attention or in replenishing viewers throughout the stream. Once the novelty wears off or the results of the poll are clear, they’re out.

Quadrant 2: Live, Premium Access. You’re front row on the Met Gala red carpet or you’re taking questions live from your show’s biggest star. We also see looping meme videos make an appearance here, due to their virality.

Quadrant 3: Multiple Build Ups and Reveals. Your content is engaging, but your concurrent viewers are not steady. This is typical of streams with several, spaced out key reveals. The anticipation of each reveal drives engagement and, in turn, new audience members, but only a core viewer base stays for the entire stream.

Quadrant 4: Things Exploding/One Big Reveal: This graph is almost always indicative of the build-up to a big moment, but it can also indicate you ended your stream too soon, just as your content was gaining momentum.

Insights from these quadrants

Looking at these trends from an advertiser’s perspective, we skim past Quadrant 1 quickly, a place where some brands unfortunately find the majority of their steams living and dying. They enjoy an early peak in viewership due to the newsfeed advantages still bestowed on a Facebook Live post, but struggle to sustain or grow the audience throughout the stream.  The remaining quadrants are all very nice places for brands to aspire to reach with their Facebook Live content, but they of course require a much more strategic approach to broadcasting.

It’s no surprise that we see many publishing and entertainment brands enjoying repeat success in Quadrant 2. They’ve always enjoyed unparalleled access to content users want to watch and share and brands want to be associated with, and Facebook Live is just a new opportunity to amplify this advantage. We do see looping meme videos make an occasional appearance in this quadrant as their virality is only multiplied by the Live algorithmic advantage and it will be interesting to see if these are weeded out in future algorithm iterations.

As we move on to Quadrant 3 and 4 we notice one primary difference, multiple acts. In Quadrant 3, a stream is built around multiple key moments or reveals either by design or due to the nature of the event in focus. In Quadrant 4, however, streams are not only successful in sustaining their initial audience, but in growing a new audience that peaks at the end of the broadcast in sync with the reveal.

We should note, many of the videos across these four quadrants boast similar total view counts. This indicates that concurrent viewers, similar to engagement rate, is a metric that helps level the playing field and qualitatively evaluate a stream’s success beyond a brand’s distribution power. Similar to how brands quickly evolved the programming and production of their Facebook Live content over the past year, we hope to see more and more brands evolve their methods of evaluating the success of a stream beyond the view count. If they do, we expect they’ll be the first to monetize their Live content.

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