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Facebook shifts its strategy with new Watch tab

by Andreas Goeldi | Chief Technology Officer

Read Time: 8 mins

For quite a while, Facebook has been experimenting with a dedicated video tab, but last week it rolled out a tab called “Watch” to its mobile apps, which features professional video content.

In previous iterations, the video tab was a mix of videos from pages your friends liked, live content, and suggested videos. But now Facebook has completely restructured the video tab, with an exclusive focus on professionally-produced medium- to long-form video content. Nothing remains of friends’ video or livestreams.

Facebook watch tab

The majority of the video content is supplied by professional media outlets like Buzzfeed, but popular YouTube-centric creators like Tastemade and the Fine Brothers are featured as well.

All video content is in a 16:9 aspect ratio, likely with an eye toward streaming delivery on connected TVs and video streaming devices such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Interestingly, closed captions are turned on by default, making the videos more mobile friendly.

Facebook watch tab

Shows have their own individual pages, which look a lot like YouTube channels. Like YouTube, viewers can follow their favorite programs to get updates on new content.

Facebook watch tab

There are currently no ads within the video tab, but this environment would be perfectly suited to pre- or mid-roll ads. During our tests, we saw a handful of Facebook house ads delivered in a mid-roll format, so the platform is clearly testing user reactions to this monetization approach. Facebook has announced that there will be a revenue share program with content producers, wherein Facebook keeps 55% of ad revenue (similar to YouTube’s structure).

The video search feature still exists and displays a mix of different video types, but there’s a clear focus on the the new professional-caliber shows.

Facebook watch tab

The new video tab is reminiscent of Snapchat’s Discover tab, as well as some of the more popular parts of YouTube, including the channels featured on Google Preferred.

This update will likely increase watch time on Facebook by encouraging users to view professionally-produced content in a dedicated space for video, and will likely provide a more advertiser-friendly video environment. Has your brand started experimenting with Watch yet?

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Andreas Goeldi is Pixability's Chief Technology Officer. An experienced Internet technologist and online marketing expert with a passion for film and video, Andreas has worked in online marketing since the early days of the Internet.