Video was Facebook's new frontier in 2014 and it's not letting up in 2015. It says it is now a video platform first and foremost.
In a blog post today titled “The new universal language” Facebook talked about the visual communication that is emerging thanks to mobile, video, emojis and cameras being built in to most mobile devices – and how it is hoping to capitalise on it.
Video is now the “backbone” of what Facebook does, Ellie Rogers, Facebook Australia's head of agency sales, told AdNews this morning.
“We've shifted everything about the platform to be a video platform,” she said.
“Video is a very important tool within the Facebook platform and we're focused on how people can watch video when and how they want. We didn't expect it to grow so much. We've talked to agencies in the past about being social publishers, being mobile and now we talk to them about being a video platform.”
More than half of Facebook's 13 million Australian active users are watching at least one video a day, it claims. And since June, it has averaged around 1 billion video views every day.
At the end of last year it revealed that a third of all minutes spent on mobile are spent on Facebook platforms, according to Nielsen’s fledgling mobile measurement platform.
Globally the number of video posts people make on Facebook has increased 65% - it's 94% in the US but it didn't offer a local figure, but it's safe to assume it's somewhere between the two figures. More than 350 million photos are shared every day on Facebook globally and more than 70 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram.
A standalone video app or product could be in the works but Rogers wasn't able to confirm anything was in the pipeline. In recent months Facebook has launched standalone apps for a number of things. Messenger was spun out of the main app, Groups lets users chat in groups and Room allows users to go into discussions around particular themes. A standalone video app wouldn't fall too far from the tree.
Facebook isn't alone in its focus on video. Everyone is at it. Google, Twitter and the more traditional and digital publishers are all looking towards video. And all are tangled up. Nielsen figures show that Facebook is actually the biggest referrer of traffic to YouTube because so many people watch and share YouTube clips on the social network.
Rogers says everyone, Facebook included, is “still trying to figure it out”.
“Last year we all would have talked about the internet being viewed, read and watched. Now it's mostly watched,” she added.
The increase in video is having an impact on the News Feed and what people see from organic posts as well as paid posts. Facebook introduced video advertising in May last year, although most of the videos seen on Facebook are likely to be organic rather than paid. Paid ads are still capped at one per user per day.
Rogers says Australian brands and agencies are becoming more comfortable with the idea of paid video ads on Facebook and creating bespoke content for it. While most video ads that ran last year came from adapted TV content – this year Rogers expects more to be created with Facebook ads in mind from the start.
“Last year was test and learn. Brands that had great content were adapting it [for Facebook video] and everything went gangbusters around all the metrics and we're pleased with how it was received. We now sit firmly next to other digital broadcasters,” she said.
“When you compare the reach of Facebook to other free to air TV networks, [brands and agencies] get a lightbulb moment – 'if that many people are going to see the ad, we need to think more about what we create for it'.”
Globally the amount of video on Facebook from actual people as well as brands has increased 3.6x year on year, with 65% of video views globally being on mobile devices.
The social network reckons that video consumption has grown 532% on mobile devices – citing eMarketer as a source and is expecting a 14-fold increase in overall mobile video up to 2018, citing Cisco Systems.
The number of stickers – those big emoji-esque faces you can send through Messenger – sent increased by 75% between 2013 to 2014.
Rogers also expects more people to share more of their own video content this year and says once people do it for the first time – it becomes “habit forming” and they start doing it regularly. The Ice Bucket Challenge, she said, was a kick start for a lot of people, and so were Christmas and New Year videos of present opening and celebrating 2015.
Twitter is also ramping up its efforts in the video space and is preparing the launch of a YouTube-like video platform because it wants to “make tweets richer and more engaging, giving users more ways to tweet beyond text.”
It has also worked with a number of publishers and brands on a beta to embed video content within posts.
Yesterday Facebook also announced that WhatsApp, the messenger app it bought for around $16 billion last February has reached 700 million users globally. In December it was reported 500 million users – so that's 200 million new users in not long at all. It reckons 30 billion messages are sent everyday.
At that rate, it won't be long before it tips over to 1 billion – making it one of the only channels globally that has reach at that scale. The other platform being Facebook, which surpassed a billion global users in 2012.
In December Facebook revealed that Instagram, the photo sharing app it bought for $1 billion in 2013 surpassed 300 million monthly users – a figure that on the surface at least, outflanks Twitter users – and shows that it added 100 million users in around nine months.
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