It was a long-awaited battle which was finally initiated in the month of March 2015, when world’s largest social network Facebook with over 1.5 billion monthly active users announced its big plans to create revenue for publishers with the most engaging marketing tools of all time, video. With this move, Facebook clearly challenged the mighty YouTube that has been synonymously used for online video for more than a decade; clearly it’s being the Google’s Google for Video.
For someone like me, being a great fan of YouTube, not only because of its dominance in the space, but primarily being someone just wowed by its continuous innovation of cool new features to provide a better platform, excellent delivery of videos and targeted approach for content discover, its not that difficult to suggest that YouTube is going nowhere. However, based on recent observations let me take you through some very interesting stats that will trigger you thinking otherwise. And if one is a marketer, time has come to change your video marketing strategy and look at a wider audience, context and open new channels of reach.
- Content discovery- Its pointless to mention how much of content we all deal with on a daily basis; just imagine how much of content is actually seeded worldwide on a daily basis. In the zettabytes of content age, discovery becomes the primary importance to brands as well as users.
YouTube remains as a search based content discovery platform where an individual user can search for his choice of video. According to Mushroom Networks, YouTube is the second most used search engine in the world only after its parent company Google. A user searches for a video, watches it and few more and the relevancy starts pouring in with multiple recommendations based on his usage.
With Facebook, this journey is significantly different, how?
Well, you guessed it right, Facebook acts as a video source, while there is no way yet to search for a particular video, but it’s part of your powerful feed which a user gets based on his social network engagement, friends, context, etc. It provides a more personalized video feed/embed to users hence the chance of them watching it completely is extremely high.
So in a nutshell, Facebook provides curated content for all users that are more relevant for them. However, it loses the independence of doing your own thing, creating your own video playlists, offline viewing, huge content library etc., which is YouTube’s biggest advantage.
- Content distribution and Format- Lets set the context right, YouTube is an online video service with over millions of content creators and content businesses looking to reach out to YouTube’s 1 billion users. You will find naïve content creators like college kids to media companies and studios like Disney using YouTube to earn advertiser revenue and keep billions of eyeballs rolling.
However, Facebook is a social networking site that is more context based, engaging, targeted and comes with a viral effect. According to a Socialbakers report, Facebook videos get 40% more engagement than their YouTube links of the same video. This means that Facebook is organically pushing up the reach of their native videos versus YouTube clips in the content feed for its users.
There is a significant difference b/w YouTube videos and Facebook videos-
- YouTube offers both short form and long form content and users come to get a glimpse of both
- Facebook’s videos are mostly short form, e.g. breaking news, viral funny videos, friend’s activity, etc.
Also, YouTube apps are present almost on all devices, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, smart TVs, set Top Boxes, gaming consoles, iPods, whereas Facebook clearly misses on that front and hence comes with limited reach. We all need to understand that FB’s core still remains social networking and rolling out apps on multiple platforms would be extremely difficult. Hence, YouTube is far ahead when it comes to a multi-screen experience for users.
- Advertisements- For advertisers, ability to run specifically targeted campaign and is automated with contextual switching is the best they can get from any platform.
Facebook clearly stands as a winner here, with all the data of what a user is doing, his activities, his friends activity, eventually his behaviour and preferences. Well, after all Facebook is not just any other social network; it is a user’s virtual life and he communicates to the world everyday using status updates, likes, shares, comments and many other engagement mediums on Facebook.
Mixpo quotes Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Omnicom Digital, as saying, “When you have that much known information, tied to analytics and an ad server, you can start doing messaging in a way no one’s ever done before. That’s marketing nirvana.”
Socialbakers analysed over 180,000 Facebook video posts across 20,000 Facebook pages – here’s what it found. The recent trend is clearly showing that content marketers are directly uploading video content to Facebook, meaning that Facebook is retaining the traffic at the expense of YouTube.
As per above trend analysis by Social analytics platform, at the start of 2014, YouTube was clearly amassing the share of number of video posts (more than double of what Facebook did). As we reached the end of 2014, we clearly see Facebook catching up with YouTube numbers and accounting a growth of more than 60% within 9 months. While YouTube saw a 10% drop from the number in Jan 2014.
- Scale and Viewership- As per YouTube statistics released, it accounts for about 1 billion monthly active users; 6 billion hours of videos viewed per month, 400 hours of videos uploaded every minute and over 1 million creators from 30 countries. Mobile only takes up 50% of the overall views from YouTube that is quite high.
Adding to this, YouTube is the video advertising market’s “top dog” according to eMarketer, having claimed 19.3 percent of all U.S. video ads spending in 2014.
YouTube had been a video powerhouse from 2009 through 2012, and the stats reflect the same. Starting 2013, YouTube had been showing a downward trend. YouTube’s market share has dropped over 17% in less than 2 years, down to 23.7%. The credit goes to a large pool of competitors like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine and Vimeo.
According to Tubular, native videos uploaded to Facebook in June 2015 generated over 56.4 billion views, compared to 34.8 billion views on YouTube videos uploaded that month. However, its important to consider that the shelf life for marketing and viral short form videos viewed on Facebook (which counts a view at 3 seconds) is much lesser than the long form videos and music videos (YouTube’s largest category) uploaded on YouTube (which counts a view at approx. 30 seconds). So the above parameter does not reflect actual compounded YouTube video views for June 2015.
According to Facebook, the number of video posts per user has increased 75% year-over-year globally and 94% in the U.S., and the platform is delivering close to 3 billion videos a day.
As per Comscore, this is a strong growth for Facebook as compared to YouTube, for which the unique desktop views declined by 9% year-over-year in September 2014.
Conclusion- I still believe that making such comparisons would be too early and any predictions towards video viewership market would be an amateur effort with unreliable insights. However, looking at the above observations and a lot of industry buzz, it is becoming more clear to me that the comparison has to be two sided- End Consumers and Marketers.
While YouTube will remain to be a dominating force in video viewership and a search engine for individual’s video watching needs, Facebook will clearly dominate the advertisers/marketers segment and hence draw the marketing spends from YouTube. Underlying fact here would be that Facebook is a more sticky and connected platform which understands its consumers on a much higher level as compared to YouTube, Vimeo or any other video platform. This allows marketers/advertisers to run specifically targeted campaigns and get much better ROI for their spend irrespective of the total video viewership.
YouTube is steadily losing a key distribution platform as content marketers are shifting to Facebook. This indicates that YouTube might end up not only compromising on the advertising revenue share but also have to push peddle and make dynamic changes to its platform strategy to provide more targeting features for advertisers.