By Evan DeSimone
Ad tech startup Adaptly and growing media publisher Refinery29 have teamed up to publish a report featuring insights into the increasingly important world of Facebook video optimization.
Facebook has captured the online video industry’s attention with its rapidly climbing view counts, but the social network has also drawn criticism for what many feel are short watch times and low completion rates on content. Most viewers are starting videos, or at least triggering the three seconds of auto play needed to qualify a view, but they aren’t finishing content in the same record breaking numbers that they’re starting it.
The study looks at three potential drivers of completion viewing and examines their value within the Facebook video ecosystem. Researchers looked at the impact of trailers, which give viewers an upfront preview of what to expect form a piece of video content and have been known to drive views, and at the use of subtitles which have been known to positively impact completion rates. After examining these techniques in isolation, the study looks at the efficacy of trailers and subtitles used in tandem with the assumption that completion rates would be highest in this combined test group.
While trailers did increase the number of views on a particular piece of content, their overall impact on completion was, in fact, negative. Videos with trailers received a 6% statistical increase in views. However viewers exposed to a trailer were also 53% less likely to watch the content to completion than a control group.
Placing subtitles on video content within Facebook did not have a meaningful impact on views, however it did increase completion rates across content. Videos with subtitles enjoyed a 4% boost in completion, with no loss in views. Subtitled videos were also more likely to be shared and engaged with by viewers. Groups who saw a view with subtitles were 26% more likely to share.
The most meaningful combination of techniques, according to the results of the study, is to remove trailers from a video and add subtitles. Subtitled videos without trailers attached were, in aggregate, 260% higher on both social engagement including likes and shares as well as more likely to receive complete watches from consumers.
While Facebook has positioned itself as a social video platform in line with sharing services like YouTube, the social network operates under different rules. With marketers and content creators alike anxious to optimize their content for Facebook, the study provides some valuable insight into how to crack the problem of completion without damaging total view counts.