Facebook Amends Video Rankings to Include Watch Time

Facebook is improving how it ranks the videos people and Pages upload.

The new video ranking considers whether a user has watched a video and for how long. This new metric comes in addition to previous considerations such as likes, comments, and shares.

The additional information helps Facebook personalize each user’s News Feed based on his or her preference for watching videos. In other words, people who watch more videos can expect to see more near the top of their feeds and users who usually skip them won’t see as many. Facebook says it also means the videos people choose to watch will reach a larger audience and the videos people ignore will be shown to fewer users.

“In our early tests, this improvement resulted in more people watching more videos that are relevant to them,” Facebook says, adding that twice as many people watch videos on Facebook compared to six months ago and that its goal is to understand what videos people are interested in watching so that relevant videos appear more prominently.

Caleb Hanson, vice president of product at interactive video firm Rapt Media, says the move demonstrates that brands, agencies, and distribution outlets are increasing the value they place on video as marketing content and both the companies creating and distributing the content are looking to improve their offerings.

“Facebook is very much about using their user data to increase the relevance of content and ads, and it appears that they’re considering the format of content and ads as well as the content,” Hanson says.

For his part, Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, which provides search engine optimization, public relations, and marketing services, says Facebook is following YouTube’s lead by including watch time in its video rankings, which means digital marketers need to create compelling content for both YouTube, the top online video content property according to comScore Video Metrix, and Facebook, which ranks second.

In addition, Jarboe notes both Facebook and YouTube are actually following in Google’s footsteps, which started reducing the rankings of low-quality content with its first Panda update in February 2011.

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