Facebook yesterday revealed its new multi-pronged plan for online video domination. While YouTube remains the current and undisputed king of online video, the ubiquitous social network is making a number of important moves that should have folks at Google just a tad bit worried.
But first, it might be helpful to quickly recap what Facebook has been up to video-wise over the last few months. In addition to rolling out support for interactive 360 degree videos last month, Facebook recently began testing a new feature called “Suggested Videos.” As the name implies, the feature is designed to make it easier for users to discover and watch all sorts of video clips, with the ultimate goal, of course, being to keep users glued to the site for as long as possible.
“While we’re still in the early days of testing,” Facebook said in a press release, “we’re pleased with initial results, which show that people who have suggested videos are discovering and watching more new videos.”
Not a bad start, but that’s just the beginning of Facebook’s plan to give YouTube a run for its money.
Facebook yesterday also unveiled how they’re working on a feature that will enable users to watch video in a floating window, thereby allowing users to watch clips while simultaneously perusing through Facebook. As it stands now, watching an embedded Facebook video requires that users keep their newsfeed static so that the video remains in view. YouTube, for what it’s worth, already employs a similar feature on its mobile app.
Another interesting video-oriented feature Facebook is currently testing gives users the ability to bookmark videos for later viewing. “We also know that sometimes people want to watch a video, but they don’t have time or aren’t in a place where they can turn on sound,” Facebook explains.
But above all else, the most intriguing new feature Facebook has in the works is a dedicated place on the site for users to visit when all they want to do is watch video clips. As Facebook describes it, it seems they’re committed to building a mini YouTube-esque site directly within Facebook:
Lastly, we’ll be testing a dedicated place on Facebook for people to go when they exclusively want to watch video—whether that’s videos they’ve saved for later, or videos from friends, Pages they follow, and other video publishers on Facebook. This new videos section helps people discover, watch and share videos on Facebook that are relevant to them. It can be accessed by tapping a “Videos” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the “Favorites” section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web.
Once this feature rolls out to all Facebook users, the impact may be enormous. While more and more people are spending time watching videos on Facebook, YouTube’s vast library of searchable videos is quite literally remains without rival. If Facebook can successfully leverage its vast user base to quickly build up a vast and searchable video repository, the site will quickly become a viable threat to YouTube’s video kingdom.
The key question for Facebook and the rest of the video world is whether Facebook’s users will actually want to take advantage of a lean-in offering, as opposed to the lean-back-and-we’ll-show-you-something-that-will-occupy-you approach that has worked very, very well for Facebook for years. If they do, it means Facebook could have full parity with YouTube and a distribution mechanism that YouTube doesn’t have, which could be devastating.
As a final point, Facebook over the past few years has made a concerted effort to become increasingly less reliant on YouTube. Whereas most video embeds on the site used to come from YouTube, Facebook recently noted that 70% of all new videos are being uploaded directly through the site. In February of 2014, this figure stood at just 25%.