Facebook’s Video Tactics are Underhanded, YouTuber Casey Neistat Says

Facebook’s Video Tactics are Underhanded, YouTuber Casey Neistat Says

YouTube creator Casey Neistat. Fotografia de: Photo: Getty Images

Around eight billion video views occur daily on Facebook, but prominent YouTube creator Casey Neistat says the way the social network has fueled that growth is a “little underhanded and dirty.”

Mr. Neistat, who recently snowboarded around the snowy streets of Manhattan, said he and an assistant spent the first 36 hours after a video of that adventure went viral combing Facebook and YouTube for “freebooters” stealing his content. They found nearly 200 rip-offs on Facebook – and four on YouTube.

Facebook said in August it would begin testing software to prevent unauthorized videos from being uploaded to the platform.

Mr. Neistat sat down with CMO Today to discuss his career as a video creator and entrepreneur, and how companies can make better branded content with YouTubers. Last year, he founded a video app called Beme.

Below are edited excerpts of the conversation:

CMO TODAY: Why does Facebook have the YouTube creator community up in arms?

MR. NEISTAT: The most egregious thing they do is how there are very little punitive measures for freebooters. That is, people who steal other people’s content and then re-upload it. That’s probably the greatest offense you can commit on YouTube and they will throw you off the platform and delete your entire channel for doing that. They really take care of their creators… A view on YouTube requires an action. Click play and a view starts. A view on Facebook is counted after three seconds of automatic playing with no audio. It takes me longer to scroll past a video than three seconds, and they count that as a view.

Editor’s note: Responding to this claim, a Facebook spokeswoman said, “In News Feed, if you have stayed on a video for at least three seconds, it signals to us that you are not simply scrolling through [the] feed and you’ve shown intent to watch that video.”

CMO TODAY: The snowboarding video featured your Jeep rather prominently. Why not call up Jeep and have them sponsor it?

MR. NEISTAT: I was not paid by Jeep or anyone for that, it just happens to be my car. Look, if I had turned the dial two degrees to the left, I think the value to Jeep could have been a hundred fold. If I thought for a second that we lived in a world where I could call up an agency or call up a company and say, “Hey, I’m going to do this right now, do you want to be a part of it?” — that they could get me an answer and a budget within an hour — it would have happened. The reality is that would have taken two months to do. They are big, slow-moving sloths, these companies. I think they miss a lot of opportunities because of it. That said, there’s no doubt about it that I drove a tremendous amount of value to it, but they also make a cool car.

CMO TODAY: How can companies make good branded content?

MR. NEISTAT: What’s required is giving full agency to the creator to make something. There’s such a tremendous amount of risk in that from the client’s perspective. At the same time, from the creator’s perspective, the more heavy handed you are in what I can do creatively, the more limited I am. This is all predicated on the fact that a client is approaching a creator because of what that creator has done with his or her own creativity. So you see how those two ideas are at odds right from the inception point. Finding creators that companies believe in and can work with is incredibly challenging, and that’s step one.

CMO TODAY: You’ve made videos for big brands like Nike. How do you decide who to work with?

MR. NEISTAT: It means saying no a lot. I very recently had a six-figure offer from a fast food company. I had to say no to that. There’s no way I could have maintained the integrity of my content, having done the kind of branded content for a fast-food company that was being asked of me. My choice there was binary. It was: say yes and sacrifice what’s taken me years and years to build, in some part. Or say no, and say goodbye to what would have been a fantastic paycheck for me that would have enabled me to create so much more content.

CMO TODAY: The mobile video space is so crowded, particularly since the rise of Snapchat. Why create Beme?

MR. NEISTAT: The goal of that platform is that I still think that there’s no place in the market where I can share little glimpses of things that I see that I find interesting. Sometimes there’s something dynamic like me getting a weird meal on an airplane. This is not a YouTube video, and this is not necessarily a Snapchat message. I’m not going to create a tweet about it. But this is something interesting that maybe other people would be interested in sharing, so I Beme it. What separates what is a Beme from everything else is that there’s no review and there’s no preview. When you capture, the screen goes black, so you’re literally just capturing what’s in front of you to the degree where the software keeps your eyes on the subject. You’re not staring through your phone. With that, it’s just meant to share what you see in the most literal way possible.

Write to Jack Marshall at Jack.Marshall@wsj.com and Steven Perlberg at steven.perlberg@wsj.com

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