Can Facebook Watch compete with YouTube?

Facebook has huge ambitions for video, and quite rightly so. Video consumption is due to hit around 79% of global internet traffic by 2020 and will be closely followed by increased ad spends. But when you think of video platforms, is Facebook your go-to destination?

Facebook is investing more in original content and is refining its Watch offering to bring a more TV-like experience to its platform. To be successful, does Facebook need to encourage a shift in user behaviour? On average daily active users open Facebook between 14 and 20 times, totaling 35 minutes per day spent on the site. By comparison it's reported that an active user will open YouTube and spend 40 minutes per viewing session. With these figures in mind it's clear that longer form content, of the like you would expect in a lean back, TV-like experience, has a more natural home on a site that users spend more time per viewing session.

But Facebook has an advantage over YouTube, It's algorithm. On Facebook, the News Feed is curated to deliver you videos that have been shared, liked, or interacted with in any way by those you follow. This curated discovery is a different user experience than YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. Should Facebook compete with that? Frankly, no. Facebook's News Feed is a powerful tool for discovery and it should continue to focus on social sharing.

As for a personalised service offering, you don't have to be logged in to YouTube to enjoy videos, and this can also have an impact on its services. Facebook is a logged-in service and it inherently knows more about the individual - their interests, opinions, demographics - to be able to offer personalised recommendations. Facebook has the potential to be a more relevant recommendation service than YouTube, which relies on user cookie data, and in this respect, Facebook has a clear advantage.

Historically, Facebook has over-inflated engagement metrics for video. If Facebook intends on Watch being a strong competitor to YouTube, it has to deliver accurate, meaningful data. Can Facebook Watch compete with YouTube? Yes. The Facebook algorithm has the ability to curate content personalised to the user. But to be successful, user behaviour on the platform must change.