On the heels of Facebook’s announcement last week that they had surpassed 8 billion daily video views, Snapchat confirmed to the FT over the weekend that users of the ephemeral messaging app were now watching 6 billion videos every day.
What’s really notable about this latest reveal is how damn quickly it seems like video is taking off for Snapchat even though it’s been around on the service since late 2012. The last reported video viewing numbers for Snapchat were in September when it announced that there were 4 billion videos being watched through the app daily. In May, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told Bloomberg that the company had 2 billion daily video views.
It’s apparent that Snapchat is getting serious about making video messaging content more engaging. Over the past couple of months they’ve introduced features like Lenses to add fun filters to photos and videos while they’ve also added fast-forward and slow-motion video editing options to allow users to stylize the content they send a bit more.
At a certain point some metrics are so highly variable based on their individual definitions that they only become useful in comparing a network’s growth relative to itself. Facebook counts a “view” after an autoplay video has been onscreen for 3 seconds, meanwhile networks like YouTube have previously reported that they only counted “views” after 30 seconds of watch time.
Snapchat videos, on the other hand, focus on very precise moments, and can only last for a maximum of ten seconds anyway. The company hasn’t officially detailed how they classify a “view,” but reports have arisen over the last few months that advertisers are being charged once a video begins, or at 0 seconds, so I’d imagine that’s probably representative of how they’re approaching view counts in general.
It’s generally kind of fruitless to argue which definition of a “view” is most accurate or whether it’s even a relevant metric. Some video streaming platforms like YouTube and Periscope have shifted their metrics to measure “time watched” and actually showcase the actual time amount of content being viewed.
The most irresistible comparison to make with this new metric is in balancing Snapchat’s video-viewing acumen with that of Facebook, who reported in their quarterly earnings report that they were racking up over 8 billion video views on a daily basis. Their last reported daily video views was 4 billion back in April.
What makes these metrics especially hard to compare is that all of these platforms are often best used for distinctly different purposes. I’m watching ongoing Q&As on Periscope, I can check out full documentaries on YouTube, while now I’m using Facebook the way I used to use YouTube in checking out funny videos and following people’s channels. Snapchat is at its core a messaging app and thereby users are encouraged to be much more concise. While products inside of it like Stories and Live are developing into more widely-focused newsfeed-like features (which is where I’d imagine a lot of those views are coming from as users quickly tap through updates), right now Snapchat is still succeeding in its strategy of keeping all content bite-sized.
One thing is abundantly clear with this announcement: Snapchat’s rate of video content growth is insane, suggesting that its users are only growing more engaged with the app. Even with a tenth of the DAUs as Facebook (last reported), based on current growth rates Snapchat may soon overtake Facebook in terms of daily video views. What that actually means is open to interpretation, but hey, key metrics measured in billions for a startup valued in billions can’t be a bad thing.