Byravee Iyer
Oct 30, 2014

Hey YouTube, Is Facebook stealing your thunder?

ASIA-PACIFIC - Move over, YouTube. McDonald’s, Chupa Chups, OCBC Bank, Starbucks, Channel News Asia and Tiger Airways are all posting videos directly on to Facebook, taking the fight for digital video dollars to the next level.

McDonald's posted 19 videos on Facebook directly in September
McDonald's posted 19 videos on Facebook directly in September

A recent report from Socialbakers underscores the trend. Socialbakers analysed over 180,000 Facebook video posts across 20,000 page and found that marketers are increasingly uploading video content to the site, with a 50 per cent increase from May through July; and are trending to surpass YouTube by the end of the year.

An example of this is McDonald’s, which in January posted 27 videos to Facebook of which 18 were YouTube links. Total videos in September rose to 32, of which 19 were Facebook videos.

The big draw for advertisers is the social network’s native format. “A native video uploaded on Facebook gets a bigger preview size on the newsfeed, versus a YouTube link that gets only a tiny thumbnail,” said Sandipan Roy, regional strategy director, Isobar Asia-Pacific. “It also helps brands collect metrics at one place as opposed to integrating later with YouTube analytics.”

The social network’s new autoplay function makes it easier to capture audience attention, boosting views significantly.

Jan Rezab founder and CEO of Socialbakers predicted Facebook will become a “large player” in the video space once they figure out how to monetise it.

Jason Tan, ZenithOptimedia’s general manager in Singapore isn’t seeing the shift to Facebook just yet, but certainly notes the potential. “They only started actively educating agencies and marketers on their video capabilities, so there might be a lag in its uptake as compared to the US, which has been testing since last year.”

Tan said Facebook offers video inventory at scale and precise data that no other platform can rival. Moreover, the site’s fan base for most brands is also considerably larger than their YouTube subscriber base, making it natural to migrate video advertising onto Facebook.  

Different strokes for different folks

"YouTube is a great place to build a fanbase," said a YouTube spokesperson in response to this charge. "We're seeing 50 per cent year-on-year growth, with over 9 billion hours watched every month." YouTube also claims an increase in uploads from around 100 hours uploaded every minute in May 2013 to 300 hours. 

It is critical to understand that the two video platforms are totally different, media executives warn.

Engagement on Facebook is all about the short-term goal or gaining reach and views as quickly as possible while YouTube is far more effective for a longer-term relationship with the user if they subscribe to the brand’s channel. What’s more, well-optimised YouTube videos can continue to rank in Google search for a long time, leading to ongoing reach and value for the same initial video spend.

“The short-termism of Facebook video with users’ newsfeed means that marketers would be extremely reliant on paid media or users visiting the brand page and as we know brand page visits are declining as engagement happens within the newsfeed,”  explains Giles Henderson, media and channels director, VML Qais.

While VML Qais is working with clients including Blizzard Entertainment, Brydge Keyboards and Startwell on Facebook videos, Henderson continues to encourage clients to use rival YouTube.  “If marketers ignore YouTube or even other video content platforms they will miss out on long-term engagement, which is the way in which they can recoup the increased investment in video content.”

According to Mark Traphagen from Stone Temple Consulting, the more important question is if individual marketers are abandoning YouTube and going to Facebook exclusively. “Until and unless it develops a worthwhile search, videos like all Facebook content will have short half-lives,” Traphagen said.

*The story was updated at on 30/10/2014 at 2:00 pm to include a comment from YouTube.




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