POV: Facebook Video


Ever since Facebook reached one billion video views a day it has faced comparisons with YouTube: In the first four hours, Facebook users watched the video 2.4 million times. On YouTube, the four-minute clip garnered just a few thousand views during that time quoted The New York Times’ article Facebook’s Feeds Give Videos a Boost.

Video ads went live in the Facebook newsfeed on April 2014, giving each brand a maximum of three 15 second creative executions per buy, limited to a single brand per buy, not across a portfolio. Since launch, Facebook has started to evolve its video experience by developing better and more detailed video analytics; view counter and auto-play and auto-pause in mobile, all in order to compete more directly with YouTube.

Video Views: Facebook vs YouTube

By using a shorter duration for measurement, and auto-play to boost video views without clicks, Facebook is now reaching a sizeable audience that is attracting attention from the top online video advertisers.

Facebook counts a "video view" after 3 seconds of a video playing in all formats (paid ad or user content) and its video auto-play feature starts to play videos without any action from users, boosting the amount of video views.

In comparison with Facebook’s “3 second rule”, YouTube counts a video as viewed after 5 seconds in paid pre-roll or having watched 80% of the video in paid true view. Meanwhile organic views are counted by a user clicking on the video's thumbnail on the search engine results page and then watching 20% of a video that is 30 second or less, or 30 seconds of a video longer than 30 seconds.

Facebook argues its video experience is less intrusive than the pre-roll format, however, it is also having to deal with users’ complaints about the increased mobile data consumption due to auto-play.


In parallel to the new ad format Facebook has also acquired LiveRail in order to offer premium publishers the technology with which to sell video inventory across all devices. Facebook and LiveRail will integrate their data to improve targeting and serve better ads.

Facebook is also re-engineering the Atlas Advertiser Suite business purchased from Microsoft in 2013. Facebook will use Atlas to link users' ad interactions to their Facebook accounts, tracking users across devices, although on an anonymous basis.


YouTube is still the big gorilla of online video” according to The New York Times, but with its new targeting capabilities and shareable features, Facebook could be the best place to spread 15 second seeds of video content.

It would be great to see YouTube and Facebook as complementary platforms for campaigns, where brands can seed snapshots of content in order to get user’s attention and provoke them to extend the experience through a longer video and a detailed journey.