Lessons from the Field: Discovery Digital Networks

Discovery Digital Networks, Facebook video

“There’s a much lower attention span on Facebook than YouTube.” -Jen Corbet

A master of YouTube videos, Discovery Digital Networks publishes some 20 videos every day through an assortment of video networks that collectively deliver millions of views. The San Francisco-based Internet television and digital cable network company boasts it has web video down to a science and pretty much knows how a video will fare before it’s even uploaded.

So when Facebook made strides earlier this year to help people highlight and share videos, in part to compete more fiercely with YouTube, Discovery Digital Networks began licking its chops. Now it could push the same YouTube videos on Facebook, the social networking behemoth.

But it was a disaster—YouTube videos didn’t play well on Facebook.

Like many companies, Discovery Digital Networks had stepped into mobile and tripped on the disruption. YouTube videos are mostly watched over laptops and PCs by people who are a little more committed to watching them. Facebook videos are mostly watched over mobile devices by people in scanning mode who don’t necessarily have the volume on.

“There’s a much lower attention span on Facebook than YouTube,” says Jen Corbet, vice president of audience development and marketing at Discovery Digital Networks.

Mobile devices, which bring location tracking and different human behaviors into the mix, can derail customer relationships if companies don’t know how to adapt. Companies need to capture a person’s attention in five-second windows on mobile devices throughout the customer journey, but this requires a different way of thinking.

A spring study from Microsoft found that the average human attention span shrunk to eight seconds in 2013, from 12 seconds in 2000, roughly the start of the mobile era.

Discovery Digital Networks picked itself up and retooled videos for Facebook’s mobile world. Here’s what the video publisher learned: Facebook videos need to be more visually dynamic from the get-go than their YouTube counterparts. Videos need to be understood without sound, or at least have captions.

Most of all, mobile videos need to grab a person’s attention quickly because the five second window is closing.

Tom Kaneshige is editor of Five2ndWindow. For more than two decades, he has been keeping an eye on the seam between business and technology. You can reach him at tom.kaneshige@penton.com.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Kaneshige

    I was at the Share15 Conference in San Francisco this week put on by BrightEdge. One speaker from Home Depot was saying that people wrongfully focus on mobile devices and not the mobile mindset. “People are mobile, not their devices,” he said.

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