Social Networks Crave Video Advertising Riches

NEWS ANALYSIS: The social networks and messaging apps, from Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat, are all pushing hard to drive users to video. Here's why.

Social Video2

"In five years, most of [Facebook] will be video."

That's what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in November. What he said this week during the company's earnings report supports his prediction. Facebook users now watch 3 billion videos a day—more than three videos per each active user per day.

That's more than triple the number of videos viewed in June. The company said that 65 percent of Facebook video views occur on mobile devices.

Zuckerberg specified in the call this week that "one of the big trends will be the growth of video content on our service." Facebook isn't just noticing user behavior. It's working hard to make it happen.

Facebook appears to be algorithmically favoring News Feeds posts that contain videos. The evidence for this is that while videos in Facebook News Feeds have gone up 3.6 times, the number posted has increased by only 75 percent globally and less than 100 percent in the United States.

The increase in actual posting of videos is dwarfed by the increase in video posts actually surviving the filtering algorithm gauntlet, strongly suggesting that Facebook is playing favorites with video posts.

Facebook isn't alone. Twitter is also making a big push for video. If you recall, Twitter bought the six-second video creation tool Vine in late 2012. But that didn't satisfy the powers that tweet.

The company rolled out this week a more sophisticated video creation, editing and posting tool that adds a video button to the main Twitter app. Pressing it enables users to create, compile, edit and post up to 30-second videos to Twitter from their smartphones.

Twitter clearly wants—desperately wants—users to rethink what Twitter is and how it's used—as a container for sending videos, rather than tiny snippets of text.

Snapchat is doing something similar, but using a totally different strategy. And it has to be said: It's a brilliant strategy.

Snapchat launched on Jan. 28 a new video series called SnapperHero, which are mini two-minute videos created by popular YouTube and Vine stars. Snapchat is a messaging service, famous for its self-destructing text, photo and video messages.

SnapperHero is brilliant because it leverages video stars to teach the Snapchat-using public how to create fun and entertaining videos to send to their friends (instead of boring old text messages and pictures). They're pushing role models out and expect users to emulate the attitudes, behaviors and—most of all—obsession with video that the viral video celebrities will demonstrate.

Snapchat also announced this week something called Discover, which pushes "Snapchat Stories" to users from National Geographic, Yahoo News, Comedy Central, People magazine, Scripps Networks Interactive's Food Network, CNN, Warner Music, ESPN, Vice,, Cosmopolitan and others. These include videos from these media organizations.

Instead of self-destructing in 10 seconds as most Snapchat messages do, Discover videos will last for 24 hours.