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In a post on Business Insider, Nicholas Carlson sounds the alarm stating that Facebook has caught up to and is poised to surpass YouTube in terms of daily video views. He cites an article written by Fortune’s Erin Griffith (which is a very good read, I recommend checking it out — it’s in-depth and detailed) that discusses Facebook’s huge investment in video as his main piece of evidence. In Griffith’s article she writes, “In April, Facebook hit 4 billion views per day, matching the latest estimates available for 10-year-old YouTube.”

But not so fast. At the very bottom of the Carlson’s post he highlights the key problem with Facebook’s video play statistic but doesn’t address it. So I will.

As Mr. Carlson notes:

  • Facebook suddenly got so many views by turning on “autoplay” for videos, which start playing without sound as soon as users scroll over them.
  • Facebook believes autoplay is “magical,” “awesome,” and “completely rad” — a not super obvious way to force-feed users with video.

Pretty much every video play on YouTube is intentional, which means those views are much more valuable to advertisers. An autoplay will not receive the same type of CPM as a video that has been intentionally clicked on. Personally I would like to see a break out of the Facebook stat: intentionally played views v.s. autoplay views. That’s really the only way to know for certain how Facebook stacks up against YouTube (at least in terms of video playback).

It’s also worth noting that a lot of the video content on Facebook is reposted from YouTube or shared on both platforms.

Now is Facebook becoming a source for video content? Yes. I don’t deny that, but really, they likely have a long way to go before legitimately catching up to YouTube. That being said, Facebook’s best bet is to beat YouTube on mobile video. It already has one huge advantage: people are constantly using Facebook apps, whether it be the main app, or Messenger, or really any Facebook app and that means the videos can literally come to them, instead of them having to go to the videos.

PS: Ironic how the photo Business Insider used in that post is from a video that originally blew up on YouTube.




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