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The world can learn from Facebook India’s Thumbstoppers: Siddharth Banerjee

Facebook India’s inaugural Thumbstoppers Summit, the biggest platform in Asia for creativity in mobile video advertising, drew leading personalities from the advertising and marketing fraternity.

Ever since its launch in May this year, Facebook Thumbstoppers has been inspiring the advertising and marketing community to create short-form mobile video ads that are built for the medium rather than adapted from other formats. Thumbstoppers are those stories that can stop thumbs from scrolling and evoke emotions with the potential of changing human behaviour in less than 10 seconds.

Also read:
Facebook brings Thumbstopping work in mobile video advertising to the fore

Thumbstoppers is an industry-first program in partnership with leaders from the advertising industry – Wunderman Thompson, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, McCann MullenLowe Lintas Group, and Dentsu Aegis Network. In the last five months, almost 1,000 creative professionals have been trained from 56 agencies to help drive effective business results for their clients, and cater to wider consumer sentiment.

Adgully caught up with Siddharth Banerjee, Director - Global Sales Organisation, Facebook India, at the Thumbstoppers Summit to know more about the program, how brands and agencies are leveraging it, the challenges it poses to the creative ecosystem and much more.

How do you see brands adopting the Thumbstoppers program? Could you share some examples?
We have been very enthused by the response we’ve got on Facebook Thumbstoppers, our initiative to get the industry together on short format video storytelling on mobile. We received over 3,500 entries for the Thumbstoppers Challenge, a lot of them from brands, including very large established brands which traditionally have used long format storytelling. Today, marketers are adapting to all kinds of storytelling devoid of all constraints.

Some key numbers at a glance:

  • There are now more than 2.7 billion people using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month. More than 2.1 billion people who use at least one of our services every day.
  • The Facebook family of apps continue to be popular and valued in India with 328 million on Facebook and 400 million on WhatsApp.
  • Across the Facebook family of apps, 1 billion stories are shared every day.
  • We launched Watch globally less than a year ago, and there are now more than 720 million people monthly and 140 million people daily viewing something on Watch. On average, daily visitors spend more than 26 minutes in Watch every day (June 2019).
  • Thumbstoppers’ impact so far - Almost 1,000 creatives from 56 creative agencies have been trained by Facebook experts to help drive effective business results for their clients and cater to wider consumer sentiment. A total of 16 workshops were conducted at the agencies itself, and 6 workshops were conducted at Facebook offices.
  • Thumbstoppers Challenge - More than 3,500 entries were received of which 60 are brand entries. All 16 winning films have been directed by celebrated ad filmmaker Prakash Verma and the top four winners stand a chance to travel to Cannes next year.

By telling the story in less than 10 seconds in what way is Thumbstoppers challenging the creative ecosystem?
Our submission to the creative ecosystem is to think from scratch about creative ideas that can be told in lesser time. We are not asking for fitting a 30-seconder by cutting it down to a 10-seconder. What we are submitting is that there are ways to tell a story with a certain message in shorter timeframes as well and the reason for that is because a lot of time consumers are spending today, they are spending on their mobile phones. Therefore, the rules of advertising on mobile phones are different from the rules of advertising on other media. If we believe that consumers are spending a lot of time on their mobile phones then we’ve got to respect the way they consume media and content on their mobile phones and hence the call out to the ecosystem to get better at short format storytelling.

India is a mobile-first country and we believe what we are doing as Facebook Thumbstoppers is easily an example that the world can learn from us.

Could you tell us about Facebook’s Zero Friction Future programme? What does it do for brands?
The Facebook ZFF programme is a curated set of programmes that we have to connect with various industries and solve their most pressing business problems and talk a little about it so that other organisations can also learn from it. You might have seen a series of editorials that we have done in recent times where we are talking about how e-commerce, banks, FMCG players, and telcos are using full funnel solutions from Facebook right from awareness to consideration to trail and purchase. Therefore, we are demonstrating how Facebook can be used by various types of organisations and industries and our call out is for marketers to take inspiration from that, to take the relevant lessons from that and to use our platform in ways that can be very powerful and efficient for them.

With decreasing attentions spans, how can brands effectively use video to create attention and awareness?
That’s actually the crux of the Facebook Thumbstoppers programme, where we are really asking creative agency partners as well as brands to, first, understand consumer behaviour on mobile. While consumer behaviour on other platforms is well understood, on mobile there is some work to be done. That’s the first thing – to get them curious on that. The second thing is, there are some simple rules we have articulated for creative excellence on mobile, some of which we recently launched in a whitepaper at a recent MMA event a fortnight ago. Following some of those simple rules will allow brands to create content videos, stories which resonate better with consumers’ given diminished attention span, and the third part which we are doing quite extensively is collaborative training with our agency partners; we’ve trained more than 1,000 creative folks across 6 different agencies in the past week.

So, there is collaboration, challenge and continuous conversation.

What are your key observations on mobile advertising in India?
Digital advertising is largely mobile advertising. We believe that the more brands sit down with their partners like Facebook and understand consumer behaviour, understand the tools of making creative assets which are effective on mobile, the more effectively brands will be able to communicate with consumers and get their desired brand and business outcomes. Therefore, Thumbstoppers is almost like an invitation, but a recurring invitation, for brands to come and partner deeply with us.

Apart from these two programmes, how are brands leveraging Facebook to grow their business?
We work with brands on a day to day basis across different industries. Already, we have a lot of organisations and brands that work closely with us. These two programmes are large ecosystem programmes that go beyond particular organisations. This is getting the industry together on stuff that concerns the industry. You’ve seen how we are doing creativity on mobile using Thumbstoppers, I want to draw your attention to what we have done with AC Nielsen and other organisations which are talking about real time measurement which is custom mix modelling (CMM). So, creativity on mobile, real time measurement, media planning 2.0 a lot of these conversations we are participating to build larger industry conversations.

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