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Facebook is adding view counters to its videos

Though it’s still far from YouTube, Facebook fired a shot across its competitor’s bow by saying it now serves up a billion native video views per day. In addition, its latest update has a YouTube-like view counter for public videos, making it easier to find popular selections or see how your own uploads are doing. Facebook said two-thirds of video views were from mobile devices, a stat no doubt helped significantly by the new auto-playing feature that’s on by default. A recent video ranking change also gives frequent video watchers more options. But as the NY Times pointed out, Facebook’s social nature can also send a video viral quickly.

To prove to advertisers and the world that it’s not just YouTube that has massive video engagement online, Facebook today announced it now delivers 1 billion video views per day and will begin showing everyone view counts on videos posted by Pages and public figures. This could convince advertisers shifting TV ad spend to digital to look to Facebook, which recently bought video adtech company LiveRail for between $400 million and $500 million in July. To put the 1 billion daily views in context, YouTube last said it racked up 4 billion views per day as of early 2012, but it’s grown massively since then. Sixty-five percent of Facebook’s video views are coming from mobile where Facebook’s user base is shifting, and views grew 50 percent from May to July, in part thanks to the viral ALS ice bucket challenge finding a home on Facebook. As I wrote nine months ago, video is a huge growth opportunity for Facebook, and today it finally puts its efforts there in the spotlight. Facebook today also confirmed that it’s recommending additional videos to watch after you’ve seen one, a new feature I spotted in July. Today’s announcement also noted that Facebook is letting video publishers include a “call-to-action” link that viewers can click at the end of a video. Finally, it noted that video publishers and Pages now have access to previously announced deeper analytics about view counts and unique viewers, as well as how long people kept watching before moving on.

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