Why I wouldn’t lead my video strategy with Facebook ads

When Facebook recently announced it would be working with advertisers to develop six second ads, Xero's Patrick MacFie couldn't help but wonder where the ever-shortening rabbit hole would lead. Here, he details why he no longer wants to be a part of the "mad dash to the bottom".

Don’t get me wrong, I dig Facebook, and there’s no mistaking that it’s an absolutely critical part of any content engagement strategy. However, when it comes to rolling out a video content play whose sole purpose isn’t just to illicit shits and giggles, I personally wouldn’t lead any of my video amplification efforts with Facebook for a number of reasons. Here’s the most important one thats put a bee in my bonnet today.

Facebook is becoming a “mad dash to the bottom”

The mad dash to the bottom for engagement

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said in the companies recent second quarter earnings call that they’re now working with some advertisers to develop ads as short as six seconds… six seconds WTF?

12 months ago it was 15 secs, now its six secs, based on this trend what’s the next recommendation going to be… three seconds? For me, a six second advert says one thing: what’s the minimum amount of time I can possibly slide this advert in front of a viewer for without pissing them off and still get paid?

I’m a creative and there’s nothing more I enjoy than a tight brief, or a significant creative challenge, but when you get to the point that your message is being eroded down to three words or less, of one syllable each, I think its time to pause and reflect on what the hell is actually going on here.

For me the truth of video content is best summed up in the immortal words of Walt Disney: “Quality will out”. From the moment you publish a piece of content, it immediately becomes embroiled in a Royal Rumble-esque battle for the viewer’s attention.

As Andrew Robertson of BBDO said recently in Ad Age’s Tagline podcast: “You used to compete with what else was in the break (commercial break) now you’re competing with everything that has ever been created”.

To cut to the chase, my point is this: stop making shit content to fill your always on campaign quota based on the latest strategic insight on content duration and engagement, and start making shit that your audience actually wants to watch. What!? I know – mind bending stuff right?

Here’s a secret I’ll share with you after producing video content for more than 20 years. There is no magic duration that drives better engagement than another.

The simple truth is this that a video should be as long or as short as it needs to be to carry an incredible story, nothing more nothing less. Start designing your content from a story-first perspective and the duration will follow, my bet is you won’t be producing too many six second videos in your near future, unless of course its your intent is to annoy the f*ck out of your audience by interrupting them with your six second ad placed in the middle of the video they really want to watch.

In August, together with the IAA, Mumbrella is hosting a breakfast and panel discussion ‘Artificial Intelligence Just Got Real’ which will reveal whether the AI transformation will leave a trail of destruction or open up a world of opportunity. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here. 


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