Influx Digital

Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing: YouTube vs Facebook

After a lot of coffee, late nights and many random ideas that have been trialled and discarded (like your friend’s suggestion in the pub which seemed genius after five pints and a shot), you now possess a video ad masterpiece to showcase your brand. But what do you do with it now?

After a lot of coffee, late nights and many random ideas that have been trialled and discarded (like your friend’s suggestion in the pub which seemed genius after five pints and a shot), you now possess a video ad masterpiece to showcase your brand. But what do you do with it now? The next decision is where and how to display your video for maximum effect and return on investment. In this article we will look at two of the current major players in online video hosting, try to explain some of the differences and why you should customise your videos for different platforms.

YouTube & Facebook

Online digital video has seen rapid growth in recent years and this trend is expected to continue. Cisco, a huge tech and networking company, predict that by 2021 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be digital video. No wonder the big networks are moving fast to improve video hosting. For advertisers, it is becoming clear that digital video media is the way to go.

YouTube is generally the go-to website if you want to find a video on any subject you can dream of. Owned by Google, it dominates the online video viewing platforms and is the second largest online search engine, after Google, generating hundreds of millions of views per day from a billion users.

Facebook is probably the first website you think of if someone says ‘social media’. According to Facebook, they have around two billion users worldwide and there are four billion views of videos through their pages every day. Apparently, if Facebook was a religion, it would now be the second largest in the world after Christianity.

Exposure: How Do Viewers Discover Your Video?

YouTube is a search engine so it works on the basis that users are searching for something specific. Viewers type in what they are looking for and it returns results of videos fitting or related to their request. Once viewers have found quality videos on the subject they are interested in, they tend to watch most or all of it. YouTube also encourages viewers to subscribe to creators and channels that they like, establishing longer-term exposure to an audience who have already expressed interest. As long as people know what keywords to find them with, your videos can be viewed long after initial posting and continue to drive views and leads potentially for as long as the video remains on the platform.

Facebook videos are inserted and played automatically (without sound until a viewer chooses to watch) into user’s news feeds. So viewers see videos on an accidental or random discovery basis rather than actively seeking them out or having suggestions offered based on their search history. Facebook news feeds are where people are flicking through, looking for quick and interesting distractions. If a video is engaging enough it will gain fast and wide exposure but equally if viewers don’t like it they will very quickly move on. Videos here tend to be far more short lived as once it disappears from news feeds it is near impossible for viewers to find particular videos again.

Algorithms: What does Each Platform Emphasize?

Both sites use complicated algorithms to calculate and determine what their users see. Don’t worry, we won’t (and can’t) explain algorithms in more detail. What you need to know as an advertiser is that each site has different popularity or quality measures so they may emphasize or favour different types of video.

For several years now, YouTube has consistently measured popularity and quality by emphasis on watch time. As mentioned above, this is where people watch most or all of a video. The theory is that a video is probably good if people actually watch it and don’t switch off. Favouring watch time as a measurement means that longer videos tend to perform better than short on this platform (provided they are high quality and engaging).

Facebook on the other hand is changing. They have traditionally favoured counting views and for a long time have counted a view once three seconds of a video has been watched. This ultimately encouraged video advertisers to post short, attention grabbing videos. However, only this year have Facebook announced that they are making percent completion (or watch time) a bigger factor in their video rankings to promote longer and higher quality videos, although for the time being they are still counting views from three seconds.

Content: What Does Your Video Need to Offer?

On YouTube, people search for videos which offer lots of value, so practical how-to’s, tutorials and in-depth content is popular here. This type of content will also generally rank better in search and suggestion results. On YouTube you are typically asking viewers to subscribe or watch other related videos. To aid this, YouTube provides the ability to annotate videos with in-video calls-to-action and links to other videos. Detail and the right keywords matter on YouTube.

Because of the random discovery method of viewing and the short time videos are available for, Facebook tends to be better for promotional videos, direct selling of products and videos that tie in with current topics being discussed and shared. Simple and bold concepts currently have most success on Facebook. Here, you are looking for viewers to like, share or click on your video. You don’t have subscribers and links to other videos, neither do you have the ability to place in-video calls-to-actions. Also remember that the common YouTube video style of a ‘talking head’ will not work so well on Facebook, due to the video autoplaying on mute in the news feed. To use this style of video effectively on Facebook, you will need to make sure there is a compelling visual cue to get a viewer’s attention.

Ensure you customise and adapt your calls-to-actions and end slates of your videos to be effective for each platform, especially if you wish to use your video across both.

Analytics: How to Measure Video Performance?

Creating your video ad has likely taken up a large chunk of your life in the quest for perfection so once it’s out there, you will want to know who’s watching it. Both networks offer comprehensive and understandable metrics to work out your ROI. YouTube works with Google AdWords Analytics, while Facebook calls their system Insights. To be honest, we could spend hours describing what metrics you can analyse on each platform but the best way to find the information that is important to you is to explore once your video is uploaded, live and measurable.

However, a big difference to note is one we have already touched upon and that is the way they count views. YouTube counts a view once a video has been watched past 30 seconds or to the end if shorter. Facebook counts a view from 3 seconds and because videos autoplay in user’s news feeds, many views could be entirely accidental because the viewer is actually watching the video above or below it. It is important to realise though, because both platforms are different, it’s a bit pointless comparing the data produced on YouTube against data from Facebook or vice versa.

Decisions: Which One?

As discussed earlier, online digital video is a Big Thing and is only going to get bigger. The leading networks are constantly striving to stay ahead of the game and you can expect new players to emerge with new ideas as well. Facebook is already taking steps to aggressively pursue some of Google/YouTube’s market share in video hosting which means that the differences may well become less defined.

For advertisers, the bottom line is that both platforms have enormous audiences that you could potentially reach and it is not just a case of picking one over the other. Unless you feel that your video and goals are especially suited to a particular platform, there is no reason why you can’t try both for maximum exposure and ROI. Just remember to adapt your videos appropriately and follow the golden rule of always providing high quality and engaging content. Any ideas that happen in the pub should probably stay there!


With the ever changing landscape that is reaching, understanding and advertising to these new audiences, Influx Digital stay ahead of the curve with advertising and marketing for brands online from the native to the disruptive.

To find out more how we can help you, contact the team today.