Facebook says it now gets around 8 billion video views on its platform each day, and the social network has made no secret of its plans to make it an even bigger part of the experience in the future.
Now Facebook is testing a new “click for more” feature for desktop users of the service. Currently, clicking not just on the words — which appear in a place where they will be hard to miss, centered in the bottom, just above the video controls — but anywhere on the video will take users to a new window. There, they get an enlarged view of the video on a darkened screen, along with a carousel of related videos interspersed with video ads. You can choose what to watch, or let them autoplay.
Facebook has confirmed to us that this is the web-based test it alluded to when it announced in October that it would start to test new video experiences.
(The October announcement was mainly focused around new video features in iOS, as well as a recap of some of the other work Facebook had been doing in 360 immersive video and live videos. Yesterday it announced that it would be expanding that live, Periscope-style video to all Verified Pages).
Facebook’s interest in growing video (possibly sometimes by hook or by crook) seems to be two-fold: first, it will increase engagement and time spent on the platform. Whereas people today may dip in just to check on what’s new in their feed or what their friends are posting, having more videos might help them linger for longer, or become a reason to visit Facebook in itself (more on that below).
The other reason for bringing in more video inventory and video audience is to drive more premium video-based advertising. As more big brands turn to digital platforms to promote their products, they will be looking for mass-market video sites either to buy alongside traditional TV or to replace it altogether. This is something that online video leader YouTube has also realised and so it is working hard to mimic more TV features in its own interface.
Prelude to a new TV app?
Others have spotted the same “click for more” call to action on videos. Jason Stein, who also noticed the feature appear a few weeks ago, makes an interesting guess that the format you see when you click through to the bigger video experience could be Facebook’s template for a future Apple TV app.
This would make sense, since the Facebook content you’re most likely to want to see on your TV will be Facebook’s video content. It could also potentially be something that Facebook would repurpose for a Facebook experience on its Oculus Rift or other virtual reality headsets.
It’s also in keeping with another test the company is doing, of a dedicated video feed where content is divided up into “channels” based around areas such as what friends are sharing, specific subjects or Pages you’ve liked.
But just because people are spotting “Click for more” — and possibly clicking for more, as Facebook suggests they do — doesn’t mean that everyone is happy.
There are already two threads in Facebook’s support forums asking how to disable the feature. (No replies from Facebook, however.) One criticism is that the action of clicking on a video used to pause it on Facebook — meaning some users are finding themselves seeing the new view without asking for it. (This is reminiscent of how Twitter moved its “Moments” tab to where the Mentions tab used to be, leading to a lot more clicks on the new feature .)
From my own experience, I only see “click for more” on the desktop web version of Facebook. On my iOS app, if you click on the video, you are automatically directed to the darkened screen and an infinite scroll of ads and other videos.
On mobile web, it’s the most pared-down experience of all (and maybe the nicest for being less noisy): just the video, nothing else.
This is not the first time that Facebook has made enhancements specifically on desktop increase video viewing for those who access it. Earlier this year, it started showing a “Watch Later” button for some users.