- Tastemade is betting big on Facebook Watch with seven weekly shows.
- The publisher cites tests with serving pre-roll ads before videos as one of the main reasons that it’s expanding on Watch.
- It’s bringing back a defunct YouTube program about vegan eating to Watch as a way to expose viewers to the series.
Tastemade has amassed a huge following on Facebook over the past few years by cranking out food and travel-related videos on its flagship Facebook Page that has nearly 30 million followers.
But there’s not a lot of money in short news feed videos.
So Tastemade is turning to Facebook Watch to get serious about turning social video into a lucrative revenue stream. And it’s taking a page out of TV’s playbook.
Besides posting fast-paced, “hands-and-pans” recipe videos to Facebook Tastemade has recently turned some of its most popular videos into series that live in Facebook Watch, the social platform’s hub of professionally produced video.
Tastemade is pushing shows every day as it tries to build a Facebook Watch habit
“Struggle Meals,” for example, is hosted by Frankie Celenza and whips up meals for $2 or less per serving. Episodes are about five to eight minutes long and regularly rack up between 1.5 to 2 million views. Another series called “Dish” features celebrity chefs like Aaron Franklin and Thomas Keller talking about their favorite dishes and showing people how to make them.
But part of the problem with developing those shows is getting people to to find and watch them under the Watch tab, which is separate from the news feed — and not yet a habit for most Facebook users.
So, Tastemade is programming its content like a TV slate that broadcasters use to map out time slots for programs. In total, Tastemade has seven Watch shows to fill, meaning that one show will roll out each day of the week.
Of course people don’t watch digital video the same way that they watch TV programs at specific times. But the goal is to get people routinely watching its Watch programs now that Facebook’s ad program is gaining traction, according to Oren Katzeff, Tastemade’s head of programming.
“With pre-roll, we’ve started to step up our efforts now that we’ve seen it kick in,” Katzeff said. “We’re going to be launching a different Facebook Watch show everyday.”
After making six Facebook-funded Facebook Watch shows last year (and running mid-roll ads in videos that were at least 90 seconds long) Tastemade has created eight more shows since. Most recently, the publisher started testing pre-roll ads that play before video clips.
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It’s a bit early to gauge the results, but Tastemade is starting to see that ads within Facebook Watch can be a source of revenue.
Katzeff said the publisher’s tests with mid-roll ads “was positive” but designing videos that can be broken up with quick ad breaks in the middle of them is a challenge.
“It’s much harder to create content that has a natural mid-roll point,” he said. “What’s attractive about pre-roll is that people see it since it’s at the beginning and it’s less disruptive — that definitely impacted our decision to program more for Watch.”
Tastemade has a week’s worth of Facebook programming
In the coming two weeks, Tastemade will roll out a schedule for seven of its core Facebook Watch shows that will air each week. Here is the slate of programs:
- Sunday: “Struggle Meals”
- Monday: “Super Simple,” which is hosted by Dini Klein and shows viewers how to make quick and easy meals.
- Tuesday: “Alice in Paris,” A scripted series about a young woman named Alice who searches Paris for the best French food.
- Wednesday: “Tiny Kitchen” is a series that makes miniature-sized recipes like crostatas and avocado toast.
- Thursday: “Good Times with Jen” is hosted by Jen Phanomrat and focuses on making dishes that are fun to make.
- Friday: “Dish”
- Saturday: A vegan recipe show called “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” The series makes vegan versions of dishes like tacos and chicken nuggets.
A defunct YouTube show is getting a second life on Facebook
In the case of “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross,” it’s a now defunct program that Tastemade made a few years specifically for YouTube and will now run on Watch.
The show’s focus on vegan food “was a little bit ahead of its time and now people are into it,” Katzeff said.
“We only ran it on YouTube because YouTube was the only place for hosted, long-form programming [at the time], but now we’ve got this massive Facebook audience that’s never seen it.”
Tastemade has about 40 episodes of “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” stashed away, which is equivalent to about a year’s worth of programming for Facebook Watch. Instead of pouring money into a new program, the idea is to get a new audiences interested in Tastemade’s older content, he said.
“We want to be fast and first but we also want to be smart about it — I’m not going out there and being like, ‘let’s create a whole new show,'” Katzeff said. “If we can get audiences interested about stuff that we know has done well in the past then that’s even better.”
Facebook’s rollout of ad breaks has been “methodical”
While Facebook is testing letting some publishers sell their own Watch inventory, Facebook handles ad sales for Tastemade.
The rollout of ads has been “methodical,” Katzeff said. “Facebook needs to collect data and make sure that they have the right controls in place.”
And in terms of how it plans to promote the shows, Tastemade will use its existing Facebook and Instagram accounts to organically plug the programs as opposed to buying boatloads of ads. “We’re going to leverage a lot of Facebook and Instagram tools like Instagram Stories, IGTV and the Instagram feed,” Katzeff said.
“The biggest bang for our buck is going to be the existing Facebook Page we have because there’s so much of an audience and our general Instagram presence.”
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