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Facebook thinks video will be as big as mobile, as it moves to become ‘video first’

Facebook is setting its sights on becoming “video first”.

The mission echoes the giant social network’s focus in 2012 on “mobile first”, when Facebook was having trouble making the leap from desktops to mobile devices.

In this case, Facebook is looking to catch the next content wave. In the beginning on Facebook, there was text. Then images spread throughout the News Feed. Now Facebook says video will soon consume the lion’s share of attention of its 1.7 billion users. And it’s making aggressive moves to get people to make and view more video, whether from friends and family or from professionals.

Facebook Live, the popular new app that makes it easy to shoot streaming video on mobile devices, is a big step in that direction. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently noted that the Facebook Live video from Candace Payne, whose peals of infectious laughter as she tried on an electronic Chewbacca mask made her an overnight internet sensation, has been viewed more than 160 million times.

Facebook is also dangling incentives to get media and entertainment professionals to crank out more video.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook was paying more than US$50 million to media companies and public figures to broadcast live. And it is building video products for its messaging apps Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, both of which have more than 1 billion users.

“We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services,” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has spoken of video in these terms. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April, he said that in 10 years “video will look like as big of a shift in the way we all share and communicate as mobile has been.”

Video will allow Facebook to tap into advertising’s pot of gold: television budgets, which are larger than those allocated for social media and digital.

Already video ads are expected to boost Facebook’s revenue growth in 2016 as marketers increasingly embrace video, especially on mobile devices. In RBC Capital’s February survey with AdAge of nearly 2,000 ad professionals, 69 per cent said they were very or somewhat likely to buy or were already buying video ads, a 3 per cent increase from a previous survey. The number of markets not interested or unlikely to buy auto-play video ad decreased to 31 per cent.

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