The latest comScore figures show that Facebook has overtaken Yahoo for the No.2 slot in video, trailing Google’s YouTube. This isn’t the first time this has happened; back in August 2010, Facebook pulled off this feat, but Yahoo managed to usurp its slot soon thereafter.
At the time, I asked comScore if the views that Facebook gets credit for on comScore's
a- only views in Facebook's player
b- embedded on Facebook.com's but using third party players (ex: YouTube)
The answer surprised me: it was a, the views that comScore gives Facebook credit for only include those limited to Facebook’s own player. Now raise your hands if you’ve ever seen a Facebook player in the wild? Obviously those are user-generated videos that Facebook members have uploaded, probably not very attractive to marketers.
Facebook is indeed a social networking site built around photo-sharing. Its pending acquisition of Instagram was intended to address Facebook’s weakness in mobile, but the fact that Instagram posed a direct threat to Facebook’s core photo-sharing functionality was the fear factor that drove Mark Zuckerberg to shell out $1 billion for the nascent company.
With Facebook’s stock off by 50% of its IPO price, one has to wonder if Mark Zuckerberg and his brain trust are considering a shift in strategy with regards to video (and possibly, content, too). If you think about it, the main value creators in video and media have indeed been the aggregators/distributors.
As such, Facebook’s massive audience of nearly 1 billion users makes it a very potent force in the media landscape, but it has yet to realize that potential. Mark Zuckerberg has adopted a neutral tech-platform stance that has left a lot of money and value on the table. It’s worth noting that Google is now morphing rapidly into a media company. It’s not creating video content yet per se, but it is funding it at a massive rate.
- Google (YouTube) grew from 146,274,000 uniques and 1,903,240,000 video views to 156,999,000 uniques and 19,588,510 video views (a 10x growth in video views);
- Facebook went from 58,596,000 uniques and 243,210,000 video views to 53,045,000 uniques and 327,801,000 video views (so uniques fell while views grew);
- Yahoo went from to 53,929,000 uniques and 229,087,000 video views to 48,693,000 uniques and 625,077,000 video views (so uniques fell while views grew).
If those numbers are accurate and the methodology hasn’t changed, they further stress the reality that users are increasingly turning to YouTube for video content, but Facebook and Yahoo have grown video views thanks to a rising tide in video creation, consumption and sharing.
Ironically, in August 2010, Facebook’s focus was solely in “products,” while Yahoo’s was on content -- but with Facebook’s stock at 50% off the IPO price and Yahoo hiring Marisa Mayer as CEO (who is poised to focus on technology and products, even though I think eventually she will focus on Yahoo’s strengths), it’s entirely possible that Yahoo will focus on productizing video, while Facebook (at least starts to) look at content. That doesn’t mean that Facebook will or should create content, but with that massive audience, the right mix of creation, curation and aggregation would overnight propel Facebook into a juggernaut in the space, instead of merely the dumb pipe it now occasionally serves as.
Ultimately, while Google is trying to attack Facebook via Google+, Facebook could in fact return the favor by attacking Google at the heart of its video strategy (YouTube), and hold on to its lead at number 2. Of course, with Mayer at the helm of Yahoo, it’s clear that she will do everything she can to reclaim the second spot. Regardless of what happens, it will be an interesting race to watch.