Facebook video isn’t killing off YouTube — yet

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YouTube has for years reigned as the premier digital video platform for both Web users and brands. But Facebook has emerged as, if not an immediate threat to YouTube’s digital video advertising business, a video ads platform poised to grow alongside YouTube.

Brands have started to experiment with uploading video directly to Facebook, for instance, instead of to YouTube, and subsequently Facebook has grown as a distribution channel. Combined with the introduction of autoplay videos and its unprecedented reach and targeting options, Facebook is becoming the Web’s second most important video platform.

George Hammer, DigitasLBi’s svp of content and social strategy, said some his brands are experimenting with publishing video straight to Facebook and are seeing higher engagement rates than when posting YouTube videos to the social network.

That would fall in line with a trend discovered by ad tech company Socialbakers, which released a study last week showing that YouTube’s share of the number of brand videos posted to Facebook was diminishing, as was its share of interactions on video posts.

The data “is clearly showing that content marketers are directly uploading video content to Facebook, meaning that Facebook is retaining the traffic at the expense of YouTube,” Socialbakers’ head of North American marketing wrote in a blog post about the data. “This is a serious threat to YouTube as marketers are going to continue to use the network that is most effective for gaining engagement. Basically, there are no signs of the trend reversing from its current path.”

Not everyone sees Facebook’s growth as a threat to YouTube, however. Facebook’s growth will happen in addition to, not instead of, YouTube’s, said David Hallerman, analyst at research firm eMarketer. YouTube is still the go-to destination for Internet users looking for video; Facebook has myriad uses, and its users are, on average, less interested in watching video.

“I definitely see Facebook getting stronger in video, but with the way audiences approach Facebook, I don’t see it taking over YouTube,” he said.

Indeed, research firm eMarketer projects YouTube’s U.S. ad revenue to increase 39.2 percent next year, from $1.13 billion this year to $1.51 billion in 2015, per eMarketer.

Google, YouTube’s parent company, told Digiday it, too, is seeing an increase in upload activity: More than 300 hours of video are now uploaded to YouTube every minute, up from 100 hours last May, according to a Google spokesperson.

Hammer said Facebook and YouTube will likely continue diverging as video platforms. Facebook’s superior targeting will attract marketers seeking reach on specific campaigns, while YouTube’s relative cheaper cost per view will make it alluring for brands looking to build more lasting, consistent connections with consumers.

“Their growth isn’t at the expense of either; it’s at the expense of text,” Hammer said. “For more and more of our campaigns, the preferred medium is video.”

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