Facebook may have 4 billion monthly video views, but what it doesn’t have is a way for users to find videos that they’re actually looking for. That might change with a bunch of new discovery features that Facebook is testing, which could make its video experience a lot more like YouTube.
At the core of Facebook’s latest announcement is a new “dedicated place on Facebook for people to go when they exclusively want to watch video,” where users can discover videos similar to ones they’ve watched recently, or watch videos they saw come up in their newsfeed and saved for later. They’ll also be able to see videos their friends have watched, liked or shared. (No word yet on whether the new hub will have a search feature, something that’s essential to YouTube, but deliberately missing from Facebook’s newsfeed.)
You can check out what the new hub looks like in Facebook’s video demo:
The experience builds on Facebook’s “suggested videos” product which debuted in July. Suggested videos was Facebook’s first attempt to monetize its video content, with mid-roll advertisements queued up in between publishers’ autoplaying videos. Facebook says it has rolled out suggested videos to most global users of its iPhone app, and is currently testing it for desktop users.
The announcement is a shot across the bow for YouTube, which remains the dominant video discovery platform for consumers and advertisers despite Facebook’s skyrocketing viewership stats.
In a story published Wednesday morning, Re/code’s Peter Kafka wrote industry insiders have always expected Facebook would have to make a move like this against its rival: “If Facebook was going to really take on YouTube for video viewers’ time — and, eventually, advertisers’ dollars — then it would have to offer an experience like YouTube, where you could go look for things you want, instead of waiting for Facebook to show you something you didn’t know you wanted.”