Facebook could start to look a lot more like YouTube.
The social media giant has been in talks with several media agencies about expanding its Watch tab to include more content from individual users, brands and influencers, CNBC reported, citing sources close to the situation.
The move may be a bid to catch up with Google’s YouTube, but it could also be a way for Facebook to reignite its slowing user growth, experts say.
Facebook could be planning to expand its Watch tab (pictured) to include content from individuals, brands and influencers. The move would bring it up to par with YouTube, which lets individual creators upload original content to their YouTube channels
Facebook launched the Watch tab in August 2017, billing the platform as a place for users to watch professional-grade video content from outlets like millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed and ATTN.
Until now, the Watch tab had been curated to include more television-style content, allowing Facebook to compete for ad dollars with traditional TV channels.
By expanding into user-generated content, it would give Facebook the opportunity to buy into the rapidly growing digital video ad market.
Digital video advertising revenue is expected to increase by roughly 35% by 2020, while TV advertising revenue is expected to increase by about 5% in that same time period, according to Axios.
More and more Silicon Valley giants are hoping to corner a piece of the digital ad market, including Amazon, which is also believed to be going after YouTube.
If Facebook revamps its Watch tab, the platform would take on a similar structure to YouTube, by splitting ad revenue between Facebook and the creators.
Creators would upload content to Watch for free and then earn a cut of the revenue from advertisers, CNBC noted.
Facebook’s Watch tab could also take on a similar revenue structure to YouTube, by splitting revenue between the firm and individual creators, brands and influencers that upload content
WHAT IS FACEBOOK WATCH?
Facebook Watch was launched with more than 20 new premium full-length shows, as well as a number of shorter five to ten minute episodes that are refreshed daily.
This two tier approach allows the company to provide more ‘clip’ oriented content similar to YouTube as well as challenging Netflix’s supremacy for ‘binge-watching’ on-demand series.
CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen is leading the efforts in his role as global creative strategy chief with former MTV executive Mina Lefevre.
For its top-tier shows, Facebook is reported to be spending about six figures per episode.
This gives them full ownership, which allows the social network to release them to its global audience of 1.9 billion monthly active users.
Facebook has been trying to expand its long-form video content so that it can attract more advertisers and build a bigger library of video content.
The firm is also working hard to make sure that users don’t leave Facebook for other social media platforms.
For the first time ever, Facebook reported a drop off in users in the US and Canada – its most lucrative market – in the firm’s most recent quarterly results.
The slowing user growth was a result of Facebook’s decision to alter its News Feed algorithms.
The algorithms now prioritize posts from family and friends and display fewer posts from news organizations, such as viral videos and articles.
The goal is to make sure users are experiencing more ‘meaningful interactions’ on Facebook.
‘We made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people’s time is well spent,’ CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the company’s earnings report.
So while the changes may have improved the user experience on Facebook, it’s also meant that they’re spending less time browsing through their News Feed or exploring the Watch tab, or using the Facebook app in general.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) recently overhauled the site’s algorithms to prioritize posts from friends and family on users’ News Feeds instead of viral videos
For the first time ever, the social network has lost users in its most lucrative market, the US and Canada, dropping from 185 million last quarter to 184 million – indicating the potential for growth might have finally petered out
Expanding the Watch tab to include more YouTube-like content may not prove to be an easy feat, either.
YouTube in 2017 faced a mountain of backlash from brands who said their advertisements were appearing alongside offensive content from creators.
Last month, the Google unit strengthened its advertising policies after it was revealed that ads were showing up next to videos of scantily clad children.
At the end of last year YouTube said it had removed more than 50 user channels and has stopped running ads on more than 3.5 million videos since June. One of the deleted videos was the wildly popular Toy Freaks YouTube channel featuring a single dad and his two daughters
Brands were also outraged after YouTuber Logan Paul posted a video of him mocking a suicide victim’s body hanging in a Japanese forest.
Facebook would have to step up its vetting efforts if it decides to expand the Watch tab to include content from creators.
And Facebook hasn’t been without its faults, having come under fire for spreading fake news during the election, as well as criticisms that hate speech is being used on the site.