How Facebook Can Shine In Digital Video

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 28, 2015
Everyone’s been talking about Facebook challenging YouTube in the digital video space — but Facebook still has a lot of catching up to do. 

With over one billion viewers worldwide, YouTube still reigns as the digital video champion. People watch hundreds of millions of hours of video on YouTube each day, and the number of hours of video watched is up by 50% over 2014.  Furthermore, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine behind its parent Google, cementing its status as the place to find videos.

So how can Facebook outshine YouTube?  We’ve found five key areas that Facebook must improve to best the reigning champion:

Search. One of the biggest problems Facebook has is that users and content owners cannot easily find videos on Facebook, even ones that they have seen in prior days in their newsfeed.

In contrast, YouTube’s excellent search capabilities and comprehensiveness make it easy for people to discover new and existing videos quickly and easily.  Research revealed that brand channels on YouTube realize an average of 59% of views coming from their existing videos.  Conversely, on Facebook, older videos from the same brand barely get seen at all.  When a new video content ad is launched on Facebook, 94% of overall brand views are associated only with that new video, indicating that older videos are not benefiting from the type of “ripple effect” demonstrated on YouTube.

Fortunately for Facebook, as its audience growth has continued to surge, fixing search represents a huge opportunity — if it can create the ultimate “personalized” search experience driven by micro-search-indexes dynamically built and updated for each individual user.

User experience for video. Facebook must create a video-centric user experience instead of offering a news feed that just happens to include video.  

Content recommendations. YouTube recommends videos based on what you watched, what you searched for — and content that is related to content that you have watched or to the uploader of the content. Facebook must improve the quality of its content recommendations, as well as its their appearance. Once the quality improves, they could be shown in more places.

Tools for content owners. Facebook must provide enhanced tools to protect content owners, including an improved Content ID service to give content owners assurance that their content is 100% protected.

Content delivery performance.Facebook must dramatically improve video load times and overall performance.  Every millisecond that a user waits for a video to load or buffer is a chance for her to lose interest and navigate away from your property.

While Facebook does have plenty of catching up to do, it is gaining momentum against YouTube.  Last December, Facebook accounted for less than 5% of an average video marketers’ campaign video views.  Less than one year later, Facebook now accounts for 35% of the views for a brand’s video content advertising campaign.  

Over time, Facebook and YouTube will  converge in many ways, even as they current occupy opposite ends of the spectrum for things such as user experience (discovery versus search), content (of-the-moment versus evergreen), and network (your “friends” versus everyone who uploads content).  Facebook will improve search and become a true hub for video.  YouTube will become a personalized experience for users, perhaps even with a “newsfeed” of trending content for people like you.

At the end of the day, users want both breadth and relevance in video — and now we have both Facebook and YouTube trying to provide those qualities.

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