Facebook Goes Head To Head With YouTube

Photo of Tim Mulligan
by Tim Mulligan

A lot can happen in the world of online video in a year. In fall 2014 Facebook was reporting 1 billion views per day for it’s video feature. Fast forward to summer 2015 and the world’s preeminent social network now claims 4 billion daily video views. Whilst daily user numbers have increased by 17% year on year to April 2015, the real explanation for the explosion in viewing numbers lies in the tweaking of Facebook’s algorithm to enable prioritizing of video content into users newsfeeds alongside the innovation of muted autoplay enabling for video content. Therefore by merely using Facebook users are generating video views whether they like it or not. And at 3 seconds of uninterrupted autoplay on a user’s newsfeed Facebook officially has a new view, whether the viewers were aware of it or not.

Suddenly Facebook has become a global video destination through numbers alone. Advertisers have started to get excited because finally they have a way of demographically targeting video advertising at prospective customers through Facebook’s legendary user data. YouTube with over 7 billion daily video views is suddenly nervous. Or is it?

YouTube And Facebook Target Different Audiences

Throughout their short lives YouTube and Facebook have always been distinct from one another. Facebook found in 2004, has always been slightly older, cautious, and preppy whereas YouTube found in 2005 has focused on being rule-breaking, zany, adolescent –fixated. These different worldviews have created two distinct audiences which whilst overlapping in many areas, remain fundamentally distinct. Consumers use Facebook because they have to, that’s where their friends and associates are and so they tolerate the site’s top down controlling product nnovations. Audiences choose YouTube not because they have to (Dailymotion, Vimeo etc all offer viable video viewing alternatives ) but because they seek out the original content on the site. Conveniently it’s also the most reliable online video library in existence.

YouTube’s User Generated Content (UGC) has over the decade of the site’s existence evolved from shaky clips of skate-boarding dogs into the slick and highly engaging original content of Smoosh and PewDiePie. These content creators are what pull younger audience to the site and have turned it into a portal for short-from video. With over 26% of YouTube views accounted for by Native Content creators and with this segment attracting the fastest growing audiences on YouTube-this is YouTube’s audience differentiator.

Up until now Facebook has been happy to leave hyper-engaged millenials to YouTube whilst it build its video product for brands and content partners. This is now set to change.

Facebook Seeks To Become A User Generated Content Platform

The recent announcement by Dan Rose, Facebook’s VP of partnerships that the company intends to stimulate publishing of video content on the site through its new content revenue sharing model is the first shot in the audience war between Facebook and YouTube. Although Facebook’s new Suggested Videos Feature and associated revenue share is for now being offered only to established media players such as NBA, Fox Sports and Funny or Die who will become official Facebook partners, it sets out a clear model for Native Creators. Facebook has even matched the standard revenue share utilized by YouTube for it’s content partners.

After the feature’s launch in the third quarter of this year, Facebook will have a working revenue model in place and crucially the lure of new sizeable audiences and advanced metrics should YouTube alienate its content creators in the way it has been doing so with music artists over its music key product contractual demands. YouTube is now no longer the only game in town for content creators.

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