Facebook Video is ambitious, but you can't make a living at it yet

In a session at this week’s Facebook F8 conference, the social network gave the crowd the update on what to expect from Facebook Video in the coming year, including new tools that put more power in the hands of content creators.

The takeaway: Yeah, Google should be worried, but it’s not there yet.

Facebook Product Management Director Fidji Simo gave some impressive stats for Facebook Video. The platform gets three billion video views a day, 65% of which are on mobile, and 53% of that traffic is driven by people sharing links on their news feed.

By way of comparison, YouTube passed 4 billion views per day back in 2012 and is probably significantly bigger than that now.

“We still have a lot to build,” Simo admitted.

After Simo discussed Facebook’s existing successes with video and video ads, Facebook Video Engineering Director Maher Saba took the microphone to explain some of the new tools and features coming to the platform.

First off, developers get access to a much-improved API, which is the technical pipeline for apps and publishers to bring videos directly to Facebook.

Without getting too bogged down in details, the new API lets publishers control when videos go up and come down, upload bigger videos, control which parts of the world can see which videos (in case you have east coast/west coast beef), queue up an inventory of videos without clogging up their own news feed, and see how many people are engaging with the videos.

“I’m an engineering guy, so I get excited by APIs,” Saba says.

Publishers also get access to a new platform for managing their videos. For instance, the National Hockey League is using it to edit clips taken live streamed games and share them directly to their Facebook page, giving fans quick instant replays straight in Facebook. That comes in addition to better tools for seeing and managing all the better controls mentions above.

Last, but definitely not least, is the embedded Facebook Video player that was so integral to this morning’s keynote.

“Let’s just say I’m an editor at Buzzfeed — humour me,” joked Saba.

You just take the video embed code from any Facebook video and slam that HTML into your own site, and it appears smoothly and easily.

All of this is a shot across the bow at Google and YouTube, which has been doing a lot of this for years. Facebook wants to own everything, everywhere, and video ads are a major source of revenue in today’s mobile-everywhere world. Silicon Valley startups have been tripping over themselves to broker the emerging mode of advertising.

The thing that’s conspicuously absent, though, is any word on how users can monetise their own videos. Facebook is an advertising company, but it doesn’t seem to want to share the wealth.

That ability to capitalise on video has led YouTube and Twitch to some success, and if Facebook can’t offer the same, it may not be enough to draw popular video game streamers or video bloggers to the platform — meaning that their audiences aren’t likely to spend as much time on Facebook.

“We’re really exploring early options to allow content creators to have business models on the platform,” Simo said in response to an audience question.

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