One of the most surprising analytic discoveries of 2014 was the number of desktop views on videos Facebook received in comparison to YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. While this may seem like a sign of the future, there were several algorithm changes Facebook made right around the same time to severely alter these figures, what happened at the times the red arrows are indicating?
In Fall 2013 Facebook decided to roll out a new feature, which many of us remember as the auto-play videos no one could figure out how to turn-off. There were seemingly more articles devoted to teaching people how to turn auto-play videos off, than there were talking about the marketing benefits. The point here, is that although Facebook’s video views soared for a few months, they all began to plummet once people started turning the auto-play feature off.
In May 2014, Facebook reported that the number of videos being posted to their website was 94% steeper than a year prior in the US, and the number of views increased by 50% from May to July. In June of 2014, they also improved their News Feed to where videos are now the most readily visible content on the social platform, ahead of Status Updates, Photos, and by far the links to other sites people share. Along with this update, Facebook has also made it to where YouTube links are being driven out of the News Feed.
What Does This All Mean?
While the numbers might seem like Facebook is onto something revolutionary, the ways in which they’ve climbed to video success have come by their own hand. By combining auto-play, higher visibility for video, and cutting back on YouTube’s reach on their platform, all of these numbers came right at the same time, while simultaneously cutting down on YouTube’s views.
Here’s What Facebook is Missing:
- Organic Content Discovery – What happens when you want to find a video of your favorite band on Facebook? You could go their Fan Page and look on the videos tab, but there’s no search query to pinpoint all the exact keywords you’re looking for. YouTube is still the number two search engine in the world for a reason, their framework is built entirely around searchability.
- Content Distribution – While Facebook has made it possible for their videos to become embedded to reach outside viewers, YouTube has partnered with Apple, Android, Hulu, and many others to have apps built right into nearly any device.
- Content – YouTube was founded on February 14, 2005 and has a decade worth of content that’s not only important to viewers, but the creators as well. Facebook has a lot of catching up to do in this area, along with the need for a better way to find old videos.
What Facebook Can Offer
The majority of this article has been made to debunk statistics that don’t carry a lot of weight just yet. The truth is though, Facebook’s video scheme has a very promising business model simply based on the social integration aspect.
In the top four metrics there is: Engagement, Shares, and Time Spent Watching, three things Facebook is already built for. Facebook also makes it very easy for advertisers to directly target certain social groups, which is essentially the essence of good advertising, knowing your audience.
For the time being, YouTube is still the biggest and best video platform in the world, and you can bet any declines they’ve suffered will regain traction sooner than you think. Facebook has an incredible model working, but according to Forbes Facebook was the one network people used less in 2014. While other platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and SnapChat all continue to grow, it’s a good question to ask whether it’s worth investing video into a declining social platform?
What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to this on-going debate?
Cover Photo- Photoshopped by Jeremy Jensen using stock image from: http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/eastvalleytribune.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/20/920b3bc0-652f-5591-9920-c0b5c78d0819/50ca55f89cff0.image.jpg
Views Graph, from http://www.beet.tv/2014/10/brandcomscorefulgoni.html, modified by Jeremy Jensen with indicating arrows
Most Important Metrics, http://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/most-important-video-metrics.jpg