Facebook Live is evolving into a place where creators can go first to test and tweak their content before moving it up the development chain, said Chris Bruss, president digital for Funny or Die and Matthew Segal, co-founder and editor in chief of ATTN during a panel at PromaxBDA: The Conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I’m wildly bullish on Facebook,” said Segal. “Facebook will be a formidable player for some time to come.”

“Facebook Live has allowed us to create our own cable access channel,” said Bruss. “We can try out new things and incubate new characters at a low cost and in an environment that people expect to be loose and free.”

Funny or Die has moved more into the linear space over the past few years, producing shows such as Brockmire on IFC and Drunk History on Comedy Central. But lots of Funny or Die’s content still lives on its own website.

“We’re able to position our content on our own player on our website and that keeps them there and provides the best user experience for our content,” said Bruss. “We know that’s why our superfans and power users go there every day.”

When moderator Thai Randolph, senior VP of marketing at Laugh Out Loud Network, asked what creators should do to break through and resonate, Segal responded “turn off the sound.”

“About 80% of the audience on mobile listens with no sound,” he said. “What is more important is that every frame of the video is discernable without sound.”

Segal also said it’s important to have “strong, visceral opening, with vivid motion to entice the viewer. Slow play lead-ins don’t work.”

As for what hasn’t worked, “[viewer] retention is tough no matter what platform it’s on,” said Segal. “It’s why companies like mine are expanding to linear. As a result of this 60- to 90-second short attention span, you need to be very specific about how you condense the message down. That’s a tough editorial process to undergo every day. But when we release five- to seven-minute videos, you do see people dropping off. “

Looking ahead, Bruss said Funny or Die is dipping its toes into virtual and augmented reality, with an “exciting VR project rolling out later this summer. And we’re starting to have conversations about augmented reality. But with everything we are doing we haven’t had time to get fully immersed in it.”

Bruss also reiterated that Funny or Die is excited about live: “The amount of people you can reach for free is incredible.”

As for ATTN, Segal said his company is looking at creating premium short-form and mid-form digital content. “That’s a big opportunity right now in the digital landscape.”


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