The company is focused on improving the video user-experience, and ad opportunities as the number of viewers grow.
Recently at VidCon, Facebook announced it is going to test various monetization models on Facebook Live over the coming months. The company also announced that it was adding a bunch of new user features, including, masks and effects, and for verified Pages the ability to stream with others in different locations and a way to schedule broadcasts.
At the same time, Facebook-owned Instagram launched a new feature to organize videos by topic in the Explore tab. It also released, “Picked for You” a recommendation feature that suggests videos based on your favorite “topics and interesting,” though the company hasn’t specified how those are determined.
The move for Instagram will help users find videos they like more efficiently and will also allow Instagram to serve more targeted ads to them and provide advertisers with better segmentation. The company said video viewing on the platform had increased 150 percent over the past six months. Another draw for brands and advertisers.
Both releases provide improved user-experience and new advertising capabilities for Facebook, a seeming win-win for users and the company. But in particular, the development of advertising on Facebook Live will be essential to watch.
Facebook has been paying publishers and celebrities to use the live video platform; it recently announced it would spend $50 million on contracts with close to 140 media companies and celebrities to create videos for Facebook Live. The media companies include Buzzfeed, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Vox Media, Mashable, and CNN and the goal are to create high-quality content that will attract users to the platform.
Now, if Facebook can get live in-streaming ads to work, they can open up a way for all users to benefit from ads and make money that Facebook doesn’t have to pay out of pocket, increasing its appeal to the established YouTube and Snapchat stars with big followings.
The announcement about the Facebook Live features and the testing of advertising came during a public interview at VidCon between reporter Ana Kasparian and Facebook’s Director of Product Fidji Simo.
“What you can expect us to do over the next couple months is an experiment with a lot of different models that are going to be appropriate for certain creators for certain kinds of formats and try to figure out what works, but explore a variety of things,” Simo told Kasparian.
One popular idea seems to be testing video Ad breaks in live streams. Simo also said many live broadcasts go for longer than an hour and in that context, ad breaks could be acceptable to viewers.
The placement of the informal Facebook announcement at VidCon is significant. The event is accessible to video creators, producers, and viewers, the exact group Facebook is hoping to appeal to with the new features and ad offerings. No press release was issued about the new features, and they are still a few months out, but interest is now starting to develop.
The introduction of the Snapchat-like masks and filters are the result of Facebook’s acquisition of imaging technology startup MSQRD earlier this year. It appears to be an attempt to offer users features that will keep them from having to use Snapchat.
The broad set of video offerings from Facebook to Instagram are signs of the company hoping to maintain its relevance and user engagement and make some money on the lucrative advertising opportunities its more than 1.65 billion monthly users represent.