Facebook’s big bet on video is right

In this guest post, GlobalWebIndex’s Felim McGrath shares his thoughts on Facebook’s increasing move towards video content. 

When Nicola Mendelsohn, VP for Facebook in EMEA, proclaimed last month that in five years’ time Facebook ‘will definitely be mobile and probably all be video’, some heads were turned. Articles proclaiming the death of text on social media are certainly a bit hyperbolic but Facebook’s relentless drive towards prioritising video content is a sign of things to come. As GlobalWebIndex’s data shows, it’s a smart move on the part of the world’s largest social network.

Already, GWI’s data shows that over half of Facebookers watch videos on the platform, indicating the broad level of engagement that Zuckerberg & Co.’s video initiatives have already gained. While the network might not be able to claim the sort of viewing figures that YouTube can boast, the only way is up from here. As mobile connections continue to improve and the mobile internet grabs an increasing share of daily online time, consumers will have more opportunities to watch videos on-the-go via Facebook. And it’s clear that video sharing is a metric to watch. Right now, only 17% of Facebookers upload videos to the site, but on Snapchat over a third are sharing videos, and on WhatsApp, the figure reaches 50%. It’s only a matter of time before this trend impacts Facebook.

But, of course, there is more going on here than Facebook jumping on a content bandwagon. A focus on video could have some serious benefits for a network that is constantly striving to remain at the centre of the social media landscape. A robust video offering could be a serious tool for maintaining engagement among users. Practically all Facebookers are watching online videos and with three quarters of this group logging into Facebook daily, the opportunity for Zuckerberg’s platform to become a natural hub for Facebookers’ online video viewing is obvious.

The opportunity to appeal to brands and advertisers is also evident. 28% of Facebookers watch brand videos online at least once a month. This is certainly a medium that will see more and more investment as marketers try to find ways around the growing threat of ad-blocking. As Facebook holds such an important place in the daily habits of many internet users, the potential for brands to expose their videos to a wide audience, particularly given Facebook’s auto-play policies, are sure to bring a boost to the network’s already sizeable ad revenues.

Future-proofing is a necessity for Facebook, particularly as it is in its second decade of existence and facing an ever-widening list of aggressive competitors. In five years’ time, Facebook might not be ‘all video’ but we can certainly expect it to be video-first.

GlobalWebIndex - July 16 - Facebook’s Big Bet on Video is Right - chart