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Do you think it was just a coincidence that Facebook announced its latest advertising tactic—serving as a platform to link brands with innovative content producers to create videos that can be shared on Facebook—on the tenth anniversary of the date that its rival YouTube showed its first video? Yeah, we don’t think so either.

Group of Happy Friends Using a Smart PhoneYouTube, which is owned by Google, still earns more daily video views than Facebook, but being second is not a position that the social media giant enjoys. Accordingly, it has launched a new program entitled Anthology. With this program, it facilitates the production of marketing videos for advertisers by well-known content providers such as Vice, Funny or Die, Vox Media, The Onion, Tastemade, and Oh My Disney. The resulting videos must be made available through Facebook. However, in addition to running the communications on Facebook, the advertiser also can run them on its own websites, insert them into traditional channels (e.g., television), or pay the content provider to run the videos on its site.

Such links can benefit advertisers, which obtain high-quality marketing communications, designed specifically for a social media platform. They also help content providers find new clients and outlets for their creativity. But for Facebook, the benefits might be even more critical: By requiring that the videos run through its platform, it nearly inevitably increases the number of daily views it can attract from consumers.

In terms of revenues, the advertiser pays Facebook to post the videos and pays the content provider to produce it. There are no shared concessions or percentage deals on the back end. But advertisers also seemingly could pay content providers directly, eliminating the required costs for posting the videos on Facebook. The reasons they do not are twofold. First, Facebook still reaches massive audiences, far larger than the ones that most brand advertisers can access through their own websites. Second, Facebook knows everything there is to know about its users, so it can give the advertiser and content producer clues and hints about what customers want to see. If it can leverage these insights to achieve more widely watched videos, YouTube might need to worry about more than just its ten-year anniversary being disrupted.

Discussion Question:

If you were running a brand’s marketing campaign and decided to use the services provided by Anthology, where would you post the resulting video, in addition to Facebook?

SOURCE: Tim Peterson, “Facebook Opens Branded Video Program on YouTube’s Anniversary,” Advertising Age, April 23, 2015, http://www.adage.com