Facebook vs. YouTube: The Pursuit of the Video War

17 Rebecca D'Cunha

Surveys have shown that one of the best ways to engage with your fans is to publish native videos on Facebook. Well, now you are able to engage even more with your audience as Facebook will soon give you more control over the distribution of your videos as well as more customisation options.

During the last few months Facebook has been working on its video platform with the aim of improving their ergonomics and distribution in the News Feed. It is well known that Facebook desires to attract YouTube stars on its platform, and to do so the company regularly offers new options to content creators allowing them to target their audience further; options that other video platforms don’t have. This clearly shows that the social giant with 1.4 billion users worldwide wishes to assert its dominance for video viewership by attracting more enterprising auteurs and giving publishers more say on how and by who their content is seen.

The latest examples include the possibility to add more granular privacy controls on the target audience by restricting age and gender on top of the location and language filters which already exist. In addition, video publishers will be able to publish a video directly in the video tab of the page without sharing it in users’ News Feeds or Timelines as well as set expiration dates without losing the insights statistics after expiry.

If they wish, videos owners will also be able to forbid the integration of their video onto other websites so that the videos are only shared on Facebook.

Facebook has also rolled out a new “secret” mode for videos to make them accessible only through a URL, similarly to YouTube’s unlisted function, or if they are integrated on other websites. Secret videos will therefore not be searchable by the public. According to Gomez-Ortigoza, product manager at Facebook, “this is useful for publishers who want to host videos on Facebook, embed them on third-party sites or share them with anyone who has the URL, without posting them anywhere else on Facebook”.

Always more customization

We’re not finished! The new updates also include a personalisation feature that will allow you to choose customised thumbnails for your videos and mark them with categories such as “Entertainment” or “News”.

What’s more, you will have access to a library that will become a simple and centralised place for video management. Using this library, you will be able to better manage your videos since changes can be done en-masse or video by video. Furthermore, you will have the possibility to edit the metadata of each video after it’s been uploaded to include subtitles or to change the thumbnail for instance. Finally, the library will let you search through the videos thanks to filters and manage “secret” videos that won’t be visible on the page.

All these new features should be available worldwide over the coming weeks.

Throwing shade at YouTube

The introduction of these enhancements for content creators emphasises the competition between YouTube and the social giant. Facebook knows that videos are the future of content sharing and the company intends to steal more market shares from its competitor. To do so, the company doesn’t plan to stop at updating the video upload system but to use another one of its secret weapons: music videos.

Indeed, several days ago Facebook engaged in some preliminary discussions with music labels including Sony and Universal. Its objective is to negotiate licence agreements that insert music videos into users’ News Feeds. These potential agreements are a real threat to YouTube since Facebook’s video service has exploded in the past year and quadrupled in traffic. In April 2015 more than 4 billion videos were watched via the social network; in comparison, YouTube had reached this number in 2012 – seven years after its creation.

On their side, YouTube keeps smiling. Torrence Boone, Google’s vice president, declared that the company remained confident. He emphasised the difference in approach between the two giants: “YouTube is a library of videos where users generally already know what they want to watch (but maybe can discover more content after) while Facebook videos appear randomly in the feed. [On YouTube] video is not a bolt on. It’s not interrupting the online experience because they are coming to that platform to engage with video.”

It’s also important to note that viewer counts between Facebook and YouTube are different. While YouTube counts one view if you watch a video for at least 30 seconds, Facebook’s standard is only 3 seconds. Either way, it looks like the gloves are off!

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