Facebook video vs. YouTube: which should brands use?

Shortly after its inception, YouTube became the go-to platform for watching and uploading videos, so brands begun uploading content to it to attract consumers. But in recent times Facebook has nudged its way in, placing an increased focus on the exposure of its video content to attempt to take a slice of YouTube’s marketing pie (or the whole pie if it can manage it). Here’s a look at Facebook video compared to YouTube, including some agency insights into the use of the two platforms for video sharing.

“We definitely use Facebook video quite a bit for our client base and are getting a good result from that and we are finding for what our objectives are the cost per view is lower on Facebook than YouTube for a lot of campaigns that we are running,” says MBM Wellington business director Alexandra Hendra. “But we use them in slightly different ways.”

Facebook video is really good for content discovery, she says. “ .. so if you’re trying to get something out and get people to discover snackable short-form content.”

If you think about Facebook you are scrolling through, not tending to spend too much time with anything so the shorter the better and the quicker it gets to the point the better, she says.

“But with YouTube people are on there because they are already on the mindset of ‘I’m going to watch a video’ … You might get more retention across because people are in a video mindset already.”

She says while it’s difficult to tell externally the success of Facebook video, internally MBM is seeing success. “We know internally that we are having good success across our clients and the objectives they are trying to achieve.”

She says last year Facebook improved how it ranks videos in the newsfeed environment. “ … So brands know now they can get more cost-efficient engagement from a video than a static image post because they’re saying ‘We want you to use us so if you put it up and it goes well we will reward you with more views’.”

With Facebook it depends what your objective is, she says. “With Chubbies their objective seems to be around creating shareable content and so for that I would look to go Facebook because you’re in a more engaging sharing kind of mindset, whereas on YouTube you are more likely to view it for yourself, not necessarily share it as much.”

Chubbies is a brand for men’s shorts which uploaded a funny video ad which went viral on Facebook

According to Adweek the retailer posted a 30-second spot to Facebook and YouTube on a Thursday. By Friday morning, the Facebook version had racked up more than 11,000 views and 350 likes while the YouTube clip had 300 views and  two comments.

Another video of men squeezed into pairs of small shorts by the brand was posted to Facebook on June 19, Adweek reports. “It has since amassed more than 900,000 views, 3,600 likes and nearly 1,000 shares. The clip was later posted to YouTube on July 15, where it’s drawn 3,100 views and a small handful of comments so far.”

However, it’s important to note that Facebook and YouTube count views differently Adweek reports. “On YouTube, someone has to watch 30 seconds of something to be considered a view. But on Facebook, a view is counted as three seconds and automatically starts when someone scrolls through a newsfeed.”

According to Digiday YouTube focuses more on how long people spend time on the platform rather than the number of videos they click on which has contributed to its continued growth, as director of content strategy at YouTube Jamie Byrne attests.

Byrne says its mobile user sessions now average 40 minutes per session. “Something like that happens when you focus on watch time.”

He says the view counter isn’t important. “It’s not the metric you should use to measure your business,” says Byrne. “If you’re optimising for views, you will make decisions on content that get people to click on thumbnails to drive up the number. Do you want somebody to watch just two seconds, or watch for two minutes?”

It should also be noted that Facebook video appears to peak quickly and then drop off, whereas YouTube video engagement seems to be more sustained over a longer period of time.

Social media marketing agency Socialites Wendy Thompson says it comes down to objectives. “For example, the Mitre 10 ‘Easy As’ videos which show people how to DIY are perfect for YouTube as they are always going to be relevant. But for a time-sensitive offer Facebook often is the better fit.”

One big advantage of Facebook video over YouTube is that you can retarget people that watch the video, she says. “Even better, we can also segment this by how much of the video people watched, so we can use different creative for people that are more engaged (watched through to end) versus people that saw just the first few seconds.”

This opens up all sorts of creative opportunities and enables us to be much more efficient and thoughtful with our marketing focus and spend, she says. “A recent example of this in action is this small campaign we ran for House of Travel. It started with a video, starring Crowd Goes Wild stars. We then retargeted people that watched the video with a hot LA flights and accommodation package offer. I can’t share exact results of how many people bought the packages, but suffice to say the ROI was exceptional and we will be doing a lot more of these.”

Hendra says Facebook algorithms also prioritise recency. “So if a post takes off it will automatically reward it with high priority in the newsfeed … It seems to be a byproduct of algorithm. Whereas YouTube isn’t like that, you just pay for the view or its organic. Even if you pay for video views on Facebook your ad can still drop down in the algorithm.”

“On Facebook you expect content to come to you. On YouTube not so much, you expect to search for it,” she says.

Despite the fact video is a big part of Facebook’s social push, Hendra says she doesn’t think YouTube is in any danger yet. “I think it will hang around. It’s a pretty big beast. If they are going to sit down and view the video that’s the first place they go to still.”

According to Facebook spokesperson Gavin Ogden, globally Facebook videos get four million views per day. “Not all ad impressions are created equal. Increasingly, advertisers, publishers and advertising industry groups are adopting the position that it’s better to measure viewed impressions rather than served impressions,” he says.

“At Facebook, we agree that viewed impressions are a better standard of measure. The reason is simple: if an ad is viewed, there is a better chance it drove value for an advertiser. We use viewed impressions to measure ad delivery across desktop and mobile.”

As an example of how Facebook has been using video with brands Ogden points us to ‘The Kombi Diaries’ campaign launched by Tourism New Zealand which teamed up with Facebook and production company Symphony to create an online series for its latest campaign which follows the adventures of a young couple travelling around the country in a Kombi.

Tourism New Zealand’s director of marketing Andrew Fraser says it was increasingly important to be able to work effectively across all digital platforms and working directly with Facebook was a great opportunity to ensure the campaign used the most effective best practice techniques.

Time will tell how well Facebook video does in the coming months but it would appear brands are using Facebook and YouTube in different ways and the success of video for each platform is measured differently. Though Facebook is contending with YouTube’s video space, it doesn’t look like YouTube is going anywhere anytime soon.

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