Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Facebook has decided it wants longer videos, and will reward videographers who create them. That’s quite a turnabout for the company that counts three seconds as a “view,” and the many publishers reporting that few viewers watch their videos to completion. Facebook still plans to count three seconds as a view, but is changing its News Feed algorithm to favor longer videos, especially those that keep viewers watching. With the new algorithm, the longer a video holds its audience, the more Facebook will promote it. The social network is also adding a feature similar to Snapchat Stories.

Recode says the algorithm tweak is “part of a broader move Facebook has been making to emphasize ‘watch time’ — a metric that its rivals at YouTube have long championed,” as well as an effort to wrest advertising dollars away from TV. The company also plans to debut mid-roll advertising for videos, but only for those that are at least 90-seconds long.

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In a blog post, Facebook states that it should “weight percent completion more heavily the longer a video is, to avoid penalizing longer videos.”

Bloomberg reports that Facebook is again copying Snapchat, this time with a feature resembling that platform’s Stories, “short annotated videos and photos that people post to their entire audience, viewable for 24 hours only.” Facebook’s Instagram already created its version of that feature, now used by 150 million people daily, and “Facebook’s adoption means the tool will be exposed to a global audience of 1.8 billion people, including many who haven’t yet been introduced to Snapchat.”

In the past, Facebook added a Snapchat-like feature of ephemeral photos and video to Messenger, and, with the acquisition of Masquerade (MSQRD), also lets users put filters and special effects on selfies and videos. Facebook’s new Stories feature is being tested in Ireland. Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, is planning an IPO in the coming months.