How Facebook Is Solving Its Video Views And Freebooting Problem

To keep content creators, advertisers happy Facebook is solving 2 big problems - by bringing transparency in how it calculates video views & solving freebooting


For long, advertisers have been demanding clarity on ad viewability. With social networks not giving any heed to their demands and having different standards for ads they charge for, advertisers have threatened to withhold spending.

With the increasing shift towards video content, Facebook has been locking horns with YouTube which has been thriving on a market worth $200-$400 billion. From the first half of 2015, Facebook has been quite aggressive in competing with YouTube on product features and also on the PR front. While Facebook left no media space in proving how videos is growing on its network, it also launched five crucial features that strengthens the video arm of Facebook.

However, the news that Facebook videos are receiving 4 billion views a day went through a melt down, after YouTube star Hank Green questioned Facebook in a blog post titled, “Theft, lies, and Facebook Video”. Hank’s blog post brought forward Facebook’s two big problems around videos -

1. The way Facebook counts views.

2. Freebooting or downloading someone else’s copy-righted material, often from YouTube, and uploading it into Facebook’s native video player.

Problem with views and Facebook solution

Facebook’s biggest claim that it is serving more than 4 billion video views a day is based on the fact that it counts a video that autoplays for at least three seconds as a “view”. This was a concern raised by marketers as they had no way to know whether someone had actually watched their ad, or just unwittingly scrolled by it while not paying any attention to it at all.

When the matter was raised Facebook introduced an attractive way for marketers where they could pay for their video ad if it plays for at least 10 seconds. New change gave some respite but not like the way Google offers flexibility to advertisers.

YouTube’s ad platform gives many more options - marketers can buy slots before, after, or during videos, make their ads unskippable, or use YouTube’s TrueView option, where they only have to pay if a viewer sticks around for at least 30 seconds or to the end of the video (whichever is less.)

Recently, Financial Times reported that YouTube is preparing to start allowing outside measurement firms by year-end.

Giving in to advertisers rational demand, Facebook is also coming clear on the measurement of video ad metrics. For the first time, it has partnered with Moat, an independent third-party, to verify Facebook video ads. To start with, the partnership with Moat will focus on verifying video ad metrics. “We plan to scale Moat verification to include all other types of News Feed ads, including 100% in-view impressions, and the Instagram platform,” said Facebook.

Recently, Facebook introduced a purchasing product dubbed TRP Buying—which references the metric called target-rating points (TRPs). The TRP Buying metric forms its ground over the Facebook- Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings, which will verify how well the social site’s video ads perform in conjunction with TV spots. The latest announcement timed well around the Advertising Week walks on the same line of offering clarity on ad viewability.

Freebooting and Facebook solution

A recent report from ad agency Ogilvy and Tubular Labs found that 725 of the 1,000 most popular Facebook videos in the first quarter were re-uploads of content from other sources. The most-viewed such video raked in 72 million views, while all 725 re-uploaded videos hit a grand total of 17 billion views.

In his post, Hank also discusses about freebooting and states that Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to its native player rather than those linked from other sites like YouTube. “When embedding a YouTube video on your company’s Facebook page is a sure way to see it die a sudden death, we shouldn’t be surprised when they rip it off YouTube and upload it natively,” Hank writes. “Facebook’s algorithms encourage this theft.”

Facebook had responded saying the company takes intellectual property rights very seriously. Later it announced that it has been building a new “video matching technology” beyond the existing system, intended to curb freebooting.

The video matching technology that is open to few creators as of now will allow these creators to identify matches of their videos on Facebook across Pages, profiles, groups, and geographies.

The freeboot detecting feature is still in its beta phase and it’s being tested with a small group right now, including video creators and media companies. In the future, Facebook plans to roll out a more comprehensive system for users to manage their videos.

During a panel at Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, Facebook ad product lead Ted Zagat said that the company expects video to effectively take over the social network in the coming year or two. With these solutions the social networking giant is all set on the right path to give stiff competition to YouTube.