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From Nieman Reports: The powers and perils of news personalization
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June 14, 2016, 12:57 p.m.
LINK: fortune.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joseph Lichterman   |   June 14, 2016

A Facebook executive said Tuesday that she expects the social platform will probably be “all video” in five years.

Videos are now viewed 8 billion times daily on Facebook, up from 1 billion a year ago, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said at a Fortune conference in London.

An average of 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook on mobile devices daily, Fortune reported. Facebook Live video has also been “a bigger, faster phenomenon” than the company expected, saying that Live videos get 10 times as many comments than other video.

“I just think if we look already, we’re seeing a year-on-year decline on text. We’re seeing a massive increase, as I’ve said, on both pictures and video. If I was having a bet, I would say: video, video, video,” she said, no doubt terrifying touch-typists and anyone who likes to be able to scan prose more quickly than a video scrubber allows.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly “obsessed” with live streaming, and the company has been paying news outlets such as The New York Times and BuzzFeed to use Facebook Live. The company is paying outlets $250,000 if they post 20 videos per month over a three-month period, BuzzFeed reported in April.

As Facebook continues to emphasize video — and pay outlets to produce it — we can surely expect news organizations to continue to devote resources to producing video content. However, that’s a costly endeavor: Mashable, according to a May report in The Information, was spending between $4 million and $5 million a month as it launched its video efforts last year:

Those costs were significantly higher than its annual revenue that last year reached about $40 million. In other words, Mashable was at times burning through more than $1 million a month in cash. In contrast, before it emphasized video, Mashable had made money in some months.

The company laid off 30 staffers in April, and Mashable’s revenue grew 46 percent in the first quarter, The Information said, adding that the company expects to be profitable this year.

Facebook has also begun to allow publishers to monetize video on its platform. In April it began allowing publishers and other verified accounts to post branded content — including 360-degree videos and Facebook Live — though something like an Instant Articles-style rev share hasn’t happened yet.

So, one thing is clear: Facebook thinks video is the future and its pushing users, and the publishers who rely on Facebook for traffic, toward video.

“The best way to tell stories in this world where so much information is coming at us, actually is video, Mendelsohn said. “It commands so much more information in a quicker period.”

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