KEY POINTS

  • Many digital media companies are shifting their focus to video in a scramble to grab part of the more than $180 billion that brands spend to advertise on TV. It's a big bet that's leading them to refocus editorial teams and make big investments in content.
  • Social giants are encouraging this shift. Becoming a video-first platform is among Facebook's top priorities. Along with YouTube and Snap, it's investing in original video content to attract ad dollars. Instagram is also increasingly focused on video.
  • This is a huge opportunity for brands, but understanding the differences between the platforms is crucial. From their audiences to their ad units, the biggest social players vary widely.
  • Facebook is the pioneer of social video, and it remains a key platform for the medium. Its News Feed set the standard for videos that are short, informative, and meant to be viewed with the sound off — which is now the standard across social platforms.
    • It has rolled out several changes to make video more attractive to advertisers. These include mid-roll ads and videos that play automatically in the News Feed with the sound on.
    • Facebook's new Watch tab, which will feature original video, is part of its strategy to lure television's viewers — and its advertisers. Facebook is funding some premium programming to help launch the new tab and plans to spend $1 billion on original content in 2018, but ultimately its model will be oriented toward revenue sharing with creators. 
  • YouTube was the initial disruptor in taking eyeballs away from TV, but it now finds its leadership in digital video increasingly under threat. Brand-safety concerns and competitors pushing into video are challenges for the platform.
    • The company aims to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into more than 40 original shows and films over the next year. And it will produce six original series for its free site, as well as ramp up investments for its subscription service, YouTube Red. 
    • It's also offering its video player to digital media publishers. This may help it secure their loyalty while also granting it access to huge amounts of new content ahead of its competitors.
  • Snapchat has fewer users than its chief social-video competitors, but its mobile-first form factor and loyal following among millennials and Gen Z set it apart. Snap Shows are formatted exclusively for the platform, and 75% of the viewership is between ages 13-24. 
    • The platform has no shortage of content partners. Snap has forged partnerships over a dozen partnerships with TV networks and studios to [...]