Over the last few years, Facebook has quickly risen to become a powerhouse video destination, with its top ten publishers routinely pulling in billions of total views each month. But just exactly why is that the case? Scientifically, is there a reason Facebook users, and even Instagram users, are attracted to video content when they’re on the site?

Facebook says yes, at least for citizens of the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates. In a recent video released by Facebook IQ, the social networking platform explained how it conducted a study of participants in the UK and UAE and discovered people in those regions of the world gazed at video content on Facebook and Instagram 5x longer than they did static content. Here’s a breakdown of the study and what it means for video publishers today.

Facebook’s study derives from a lab experiment where people’s eye movements and facial expressions were tracked as they scrolled through their personal feeds; this was followed up by interviews about the role video played in each participant’s’ life. The 114 participants were aged 18-30 and watched short-form (under ten minutes) online video content and ads at least once a month. Facebook IQ also enlisted Kantar Media to conduct a study of 1,999 people from across the UK and UAE who were over 18 years of age and who watched short-form video content monthly. The goal of this study was to try to gauge the content consumption of the participants and analyze related viewing trends.

UK Residents Have Increased Their Video Viewing

Based on the data from both the lab experiment and study, Facebook IQ discovered that 64% of UK participants had increased their video viewing over the last year alone. The remaining data points are also telling of the habits and preferences of the UK people surveyed:

  • Participants were 1.20x more likely to watch video on a smartphone than on a computer at least once a day
  • 67% of respondents preferred videos under ten minutes, with millennials being 1.36x more likely than other respondents to say watching on mobile is easier than on a computer
  • 54% of millennials watched several videos in a row, with 54% of them saying they don’t even realize they’re doing so

UAE Citizens Are Increasing Video Viewing Even More

While UK residents obviously enjoy their video content, Facebook IQ found citizens of the UAE are turning to video even more frequently than their European counterparts, with 79% of participants claiming they had increased their video viewing over the last 12 months. Facebook IQ discovered other metrics higher than the UK respondents:

  • UAE citizens were 1.40x more likely to watch video on a smartphone than on a computer at least once a day
  • 77% of respondents preferred videos under ten minutes, with 67% of millennials claim it’s easier to focus via mobile viewing than via desktop
  • 65% of millennials watched several videos in a row, with 60% of them saying they don’t even realize they’re doing so

Next Steps for Video Marketers and Publishers

Facebook claims five key factors have attributed to the increased popularity of online video viewing, which include “smartphones, shorter attention spans, binge-watching, the importance of context, and the thrill of novelty.” Taking all these into consideration, video publishers on the social platform (and its related photo- and video-sharing app Instagram) should consider the following strategies if they want to reach citizens in the UK and UAE:

Focus on mobile content.

The majority of millennials in Facebook’s study prefer watching video content on mobile instead of on a desktop. Cater to this preference by developing mobile-optimized clips which users won’t be able to resist clicking on when the content shows up in their feeds.

Harness the power of Instagram.

Facebook IQ discovered that across all surveyed UK and UAE people, video on Instagram resulted in 1.80x higher levels of joy than the same content posted on other platforms. Video publishers who want to incite action and brand loyalty should therefore consider posting more clips to their Instagram accounts.

Keep content short.

With shorter attention spans contributing to the rise of online video, video publishers need to make sure their own content on Facebook and Instagram is digestible and impactful, so that it not only captures the attention of users as they scroll through their feeds but also relays brand messaging or key points at the very beginning of the video.

Try new video formats.

Based on the idea that novelty is a key factor to online video’s growth and success, Facebook IQ suggests publishers experiment with new video formats. For example, UK and UAE participants were found to look at 360-degree video 40% longer than regular video content; these respondents also reported a level of joy 1.40x higher than joy from standard videos.

You can download Facebook IQ’s one-sheeters for its UK and UAE studies here.