Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: How Facebook is Stealing Views (an Explainer Video)

Blake Harris 12.09.2015

Typically our PICK OF THE WEEK is chosen because it demonstrates an impressive array of animation skills. And while that is indeed the case with How Facebook is Stealing Billions of Views, made by the folks over at In a Nutshell, we thought this explainer video was particularly worthy of inclusion because it touches on a topic that’s very informative (and potentially eye-opening) to video marketers at any level.

That’s why, before we touch on some of the skillful techniques used in this explainer video,   we wanted to highlight some of the key points made in this video:

  • According to this explainer, engagement on Facebook videos is terrible. Compared to YouTube, views on Facebook plummet after just a few seconds (86% vs. 21%) due to the social media platform’s criteria of what constitutes a view.
  • Since Facebook prefers its own video player over those over its competitors (i.e. YouTube), “stolen videos” tend to reach many more videos than the original source.
  • And because it often takes several days for a stolen content to be taken down from Facebook, typically 99% of that video’s views will have already occurred.

There are some other details in here that might prompt you to reconsider some of your video marketing strategy. If interested, click on the video below to watch the full explainer:


  • Philipp Dettmer Editing and Design
  • Steve Taylor Narration
  • Philip Laibacher Design
  • Miri Lee Design
  • Viviane Valenta Design
  • Daniela Görzen Animation
  • Stephan Rether Animation
  • Tobi Animation


1. A Sense of Benevolent Neutrality: Not long into the video–at the 1:18 mark to be exact–it becomes clear that In a Nutshell has had personal (negative) experiences with the topic that this video is about: their views, frequently to an often high degree, are being stolen by Facebook.

Now at this point in the explainer video, one could quite easily make the assumption that this video is plagued by bias and lose interest in what’s being said. Or, worse, dismiss the information presented as false and misleading. Although In a Nutshell’s problems with video views are likely more specific to them than most, the way that they handle this can be very valuable to all of us. Because almost all explainer videos are built around bias and a skewed perspective. They’re marketing tools, created to make a specifically persuasive case.

So we really admired how this issue was dealt with and deflected. In particular, we were impressed by how Facebook, the “villain” of this story, is depicted aesthetically. Check out the evolution of how this antagonist changes from introduction to end.

First, Facebook is presented as a friendly-looking bird sharing good news…

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.13.17 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.13.19 PM

Then as an unusual-looking though mildly sympathetic alien creature…

 Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.13.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.13.50 PM

Then the character is cast in a new light: as backroom criminal and mastermind…

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.20 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.58 PM

Which soon takes us back to that visual from the opening; except now viewers are encouraged to see that scene (and Facebook) in an entirely new and nefarious way.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.59 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.16.37 PM

2. Skillful Integration of Graphs, Charts and Numbers: Almost every explainer video can benefit from the use of numerical evidence to make its case. The problem, however, is that integrating this type of information can feel clunky or throw the narrative off course.

But in light of those conditions, this explainer video manages to swiftly swerve around that issue. How do they do it? One way is by using a well chosen color palette. Another is developing a spatial structure for charts and graphs that seamlessly transitions with the rest of the video. But what we’d especially like to point out here is the movement of the charts and graphs themselves. In these situations, they do a great job of using animation–of using movement–to create a sense of continued action (as opposed to simply showcasing a stagnant fact or figure). For example, look how they build out the Audience Retention graph:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.09 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.10 PM 1

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.13 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.14.12 PM

This is probably not the most visually compelling stuff, but in this fashion they’ve managed to keep the viewers eyes active and expectant.

3. Rejuvenation: For longer explainers like this one, there’s usually a natural lull that occurs a few minutes into the video. A sense of “okay, okay, I get it already, just take me to the end.” So it felt particularly impressive that around the time this sensation felt like it was about to hit, in a Nutshell implemented a videogame-like sense of action and movement that serves to rejuvenate the viewer’s interest for the home stretch:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.46 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.15.45 PM

Lastly, since this explainer video is ultimately about the importance of sharing credit where it’s due (with creators), we wanted to pass along a couple of the links from which the information of this video was derived: 

Similar Stories