Facebook recently presented its latest research and insights on video consumption habits and a few members of Edelman’s Austin office were in attendance. The program, which Facebook titled, “The Bigger Picture of the Smaller Screen,” examined the evolution of online video and how brands can translate key consumer moments into engaging advertising opportunities.

Advertising is as important to Facebook as it’s ever been – 98 percent of the tech giant’s first quarter revenue came from its advertising platform, up from 84 percent in 2012 – especially when you consider the rate of video adoption. Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly shared his belief that video will soon account for the majority of content consumed on Facebook.

Here are the key learnings Facebook is leveraging to empower advertisers to tell their brand story in new and more engaging ways:

  1. Storytelling Has Changed

    That you’re still reading is frankly a welcome surprise. Our attention spans have decreased sharply in recent decades, from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds as of 2013. That’s an alarming statistic considering it occurred over a span of just 13 years. Modern storytelling on social media looks significantly different than traditional storytelling as a result. Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution don’t all work for social.

    What does this mean for marketers? Get to the point. Fast.

    Facebook has, in its studies with Nielsen, determined that the greatest lift in ad recall and purchase intent came in the initial 3-10 second window. So, while it may seem counterintuitive, starting with the climax is the key to making your ad memorable.

  2. Know the Three Video Viewing Behaviors like the Back of your Hand

    Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Facebook’s presentation was the way they’ve helped marketers categorize how users most commonly consume video content. The categories, outlined as behaviors, range from shorter to longer video lengths and are best utilized with specific ad formats and objectives. Let’s break them down:


  • On-the-go moments are characterized by the quick glances we take at our phones to check the news or read a post as we scroll through the News Feed while on the move.
  • The best ads for these moments are snackable, creative video formats such as GIFS, cinemagraphs (like this cool wintry weather cinemagraph from Mercedes Benz), and Instagram stories that quickly capture attention and typically do not exceed a couple of seconds in length. Use On-the-Go video formats when your ad’s objective prioritizes audience reach.

Lean Forward

  • Lean Forward behavior is characterized by those brief moments of downtime we experience throughout the day, when there is enough time to focus our attention for more than a couple of seconds, but not enough to consume long form video. Think of those quick mental breaks you take from your work during the day.
  • The best ads types to match with Lean In behavior are Carousel, Canvas, and 360 ads which help drive consideration thanks to their interactive creative formats. Use Lean Forward video formats when your ad’s objective prioritizes brand awareness.

Lean Back

  • You crawl into bed at the end of the day, pull the covers up and snuggle with your favorite pillow and your News Feed. This is your Lean Back moment, the time of day when you have an extended break or period of downtime allowing you to consume longer, more complex content.
  • Lean Back moments are best matched with Facebook Live broadcasts or long form video, both of which offer the length and depth needed to communicate a longer story. Use Lean Back video formats when your ad’s objective prioritizes video views.
  1. Video will Continue to Grow as an Ad Unit

    If Facebook’s investment in ad products are any indicator of the industry’s future, it feels like Mark Zuckerberg’s bet on video is spot on. One signal is the success some of Facebook’s newest ad formats are already seeing. About 70 percent of in-stream ads (the ones that play during your video) are viewed to completion and Instagram Stories are the fastest growing ad format on the platform. Facebook will have to work hard not to negatively impact their user experience, but a close eye on new ad formats should help confirm or deny the future of video consumption on Facebook.

Steve O’Neil is an account supervisor, Edelman Digital, Edelman Austin.