Online Video Marketers Need to Stick to a YouTube-First Strategy

Yes, I’ve read “We’re Posting 75% More Videos to Facebook Than We Did a Year Ago” by ReelSEO. I've also read “Can Facebook Rival YouTube's Video Dominance?” by ClickZ. Based on these reputable sources, Facebook is shaking up the video ecosystem. Get it? Got it? Good.

But one of the roles that I play at ReelSEO is devil’s advocate. And in this case, the devil happens to be YouTube. If it seems surprising that the devil you know needs an advocate, then I should probably update last year’s “Memo to Susan Wojcicki: YouTube Needs its Own Ad Sales Force NOW“ and add, “You Also Need Your Own GoogleGuy YESTERDAY.”

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Now, if YouTube had its own unofficial spokesperson, then what should he or she go around the online video and internet marketing industries advocating? I’d argue that YouTube’s GoogleGuy should be telling video content producers and internet marketers why they should stick to a YouTube-first strategy despite the rise of Facebook video. 

For starters, if you are one of the more than a million YouTube Partners from over 30 countries around the world earning money from their YouTube videos, then it’s a no-brainer. Thousands of channels in the YouTube Partner Program are making six figures a year. Partners may grumble that YouTube typically takes 45 percent of the advertising revenue from videos in the Partner Program, with 55 percent going to the creator. But, consider the alternative: Facebook doesn’t have a partner program, which means Facebook takes 100 percent of the advertising revenue from videos, with zero percent going to anyone else.

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Next, if you are one of the thousands of advertisers using TrueView in-stream ads, then it’s also a no-brainer. With TrueView video ads, you pay only when someone chooses to watch your ad, so you don't waste money advertising to people who aren’t interested in your business. By comparison, Premium Video Ads on Facebook start playing without sound as people scroll past. If people tap the 15-second Facebook video ad, it will expand into a full-screen view and sound will start. But Premium Video Ads on Facebook are bought based on Targeted Gross Rating Points, not taps. So, you are charged even when someone scrolls past your ad but doesn’t choose to watch it. But wait, there’s more!

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YouTube is Seeing Faster Growth Than Facebook

According to Facebook Internal Data on content creation, the number of video posts per person has increased 75 percent globally in just one year. By comparison, the amount of video content uploaded to YouTube globally increased 200 percent from 100 hours a minute to 300 hours a minute during the same period. So, it’s true that mobile technology, which allows people to have a camera with them at all times to capture and share videos, is driving the growth of video posts on Facebook. But this development is also driving even faster growth of video uploads to YouTube.

If you upload a video to YouTube, you can share it to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media. This improves your content’s discoverability and can significantly increase your video’s “watch time,” which ReelSEO's founder Mark Robertson says is YouTube’s most important ranking factor. But, if you upload a video to Facebook directly, it’s much harder to use other social media to improve your content’s discoverability and any time spent watching your Facebook video doesn’t do bupkis for your YouTube video’s ranking in the world’s second largest search engine. So, if you create and upload two versions of a video, one to Facebook and the other to YouTube, then it actually costs you more and hurts your YouTube ranking. You’re still better off sharing your YouTube video to your Facebook page. 

According to comScore Video Metrix, Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in November 2014 with 162.2 million unique viewers in the U.S. AOL, Inc. ranked #2 with 103.7 million viewers, followed by Facebook with 95 million. And that’s just a comparison of the websites.

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Last week, Neal Mohan, Google’s Vice President, Video & Display Advertising, announced on the DoubleClick Advertiser Blog that “more than 30 mainstays of video advertising -- broadcasters, premium publishers and major brands -- have joined our premium video marketplace, Google Partner Select.” This includes: CBS Interactive, Fox News, Discovery, TLC, Food Network, Rolling Stone, Us Weekly, and Men’s Fitness. He also announced that Google would be

rolling out viewability reporting across our ad platforms. This will, for the first time, inform brands whether their video ads on digital channels were actually seen or not (as opposed to, for example, appearing off-screen, going unwatched or being swiped past).

Facebook doesn't offer advertisers anything like Google Partner Select.

That’s why online video marketers should stick with a YouTube-first strategy. Even if Facebook is shaking up the video ecosystem, it hasn’t replaced YouTube as the Hub of the Universe. Over the weekend, Marc Farris, producer of the BBQTV channel on YouTube, said simply but eloquently in the YouTube Marketing Professionals LinkedIn Group, “new player, Facebook.” Get it? Got it? Good.