Facebook takes on YouTube with dedicated video platform

15/10/2015

Facebook is testing new features aimed at getting people to watch more videos, as the social network looks to rival YouTube as the dominant hub for web videos.


The feature appears on both the web and app versions of its service, and aims to make it easier for users to "discover, watch and share" clips uploaded to its servers.

It builds on wider efforts to make the social network more video-centric.

“Video has continued to grow on Facebook,' said vice president of product management Will Cathcart. 'It has become an integral part of how people around the world discover, watch and share videos they care about every day.”

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A suggested videos feature being tested in Facebook's application for iPhones displays rows of related snippets after someone views a clip from News Feed.

“We're pleased with initial results, which show that people who have suggested videos are discovering and watching more new videos,” Cathcart said. “We've now rolled out suggested videos to most people on iPhone globally, and are starting to test ads within the experience.”

Facebook is testing the suggested video feature on Web browsers, and planned to do the same with its application tailored for smartphones powered by Google-backed Android software.

The social network said it is also testing a way for people to watch video in a floating box on screen while they multi-task at Facebook, according to Cathcart.

Also getting a trial run was a 'save' button that would let people squirrel videos away for later viewing, and a dedicated stage at Facebook for video viewing.

'We'll be testing this with a small number of people now, so this isn't something most people will see on Facebook right away,' Cathcart said.

'We look forward to seeing how people use it to discover, watch and share videos with their friends.'

Google 'comfortable' with Facebook challenge

Speaking to CNBC, Google played down the challenge posed to its YouTube business by Facebook's aggressive push into online video, with the US search giant's UK head telling CNBC it is "comfortable" with its position when it comes to generating advertising revenue.

"Facebook is a three second view and you're charged. It's a very different proposition for an advertiser and very different impact on brand recall awareness," Eileen Naughton, managing director for Google U.K. and Ireland told CNBC.

"So we are very comfortable, we send a lot of videos over to Facebook, Facebook users share YouTube videos, we get a lot of traffic back and forth and that's a good thing."

Naughton added that Facebook is an "important social network" but YouTube is the "native home for video" and is more a "distribution platform for content creators".

View the CNBC interview below:

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