Mark Zuckerberg talks up Facebook's 'video first' strategy

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Mark Zuckerberg talks up Facebook's 'video first' strategy

During Facebook's third-quarter earnings call, the Facebook CEO put video first.

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Mark Zuckerberg talks up Facebook's 'video first' strategy

Jessica Guynn , USA TODAY 7:56 p.m. EDT November 2, 2016
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Facebook CEO is leading a company-wide push to make his company "video first."(Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY)

SAN FRANCISCO — When Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to talk video first, he means first.

At the top of the third-quarter earnings call with analysts on Wednesday, Zuckerberg wasted little time getting to the point.

"I want to start by talking about our work around putting video first across our apps," he said. Time and again throughout the call, Zuckerberg drew attention to Facebook's company-wide push to become "video first."

Zuckerberg believes that within five years most of what people consume online will be video, subsuming words and photographs. And he's determined to catch this next big content wave — and escalate competition for eyeballs and advertising dollars with the buzzy and youth-friendly mobile app Snapchat.

With good reason. Video ads are lucrative, and give Facebook a better shot at competing for television ad dollars, a $70 billion prize in the U.S.

Already video ads are expected to boost Facebook's revenue growth in 2016 as marketers increasingly embrace video. In RBC Capital's February survey with AdAge of nearly 2,000 ad professionals, 69% said they were very or somewhat likely to buy or were already buying video ads, a 3% increase from the prior survey. The number of marketers not interested or unlikely to buy auto-play video ads decreased three points to 31%.

"People are creating and sharing more video, and we think it’s pretty clear that video is only going to become more important," Zuckerberg told analysts. "So that’s why we’re prioritizing putting video first across our family of apps, and taking steps to make it even easier for people to express themselves in richer ways."

Zuckerberg first began promoting his "video first" vision to investors on the second-quarter earnings call. It wasn't the first time had spoken of video in these terms. At Facebook's F8 developer conference in April, Zuckerberg said in 10 years "video will look like as big of a shift in the way we all share and communicate as mobile has been."

In a video-first world, Facebook plans to put a camera, not a text box, at the center of the user experience, like Snapchat does. "Soon, we believe a camera will be the main way that we share," Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

Facebook is running a test in Ireland that puts the camera that offers dozens of special effects such as masks and frames in a prominent spot in News feed. Facebook Messenger is also testing new camera and video features, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook Live, the video-streaming service, is a key initiative in Zuckerberg's video push. Since May, the number of people "going live" at any given moment has grown by four times, he said.

For Zuckerberg, the allure of Facebook Live over traditional video: It's about interacting with other people.

"Live video we think represents an example of something new," Zuckerberg said. "It's not the kind of traditional video experience. It's actually a more social experience."

With video becoming increasingly important to Facebook's main app and to its family of apps, Facebook is rolling out new features.

In August, Facebook launched Instagram Stories so that Facebook users could share moments of their day through photos and videos that appear in a slideshow format and disappear after 24 hours, That feature, lifted from Snapchat, now has more than 100 million daily active users.

And, Zuckerberg said, Facebook is getting closer to rolling out "video home," a tab for videos in the Facebook app. "Video home" could eventually become its own app like Facebook Messenger, he said.

"It's a good experience inside Facebook but we also have had examples over time like Messenger for example where we started them on Facebook and decided that in order to fulfill their potential it needed to be its own experience over time," he said.

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