Facebook's march towards online video dominance continues, with another new feature added into the mix to get users viewing more video content. This week, Facebook is testing a new video player option where users can detach a video from the News Feed and move it to your preferred viewing location within the browser window:
GIF via The Next Web
It's an interesting, if not game-changing, feature. It means you can click play and let it run while you go on about your regular News Feed activity - good for those "wait for it..." type videos where you waste all those precious seconds lingering for that punchline moment, seconds that could have been used liking witty comments and pictures of your friends' pets.
The option is built into the video player - if you press the "small box inside a bigger box" icon in the lower right corner, your video will detach, enabling you to drag it around on-screen. Basic player functionality remains in the floating video window, including play/pause, Like/share and the option to shut it down. The video will keep playing till you switch pages by clicking onto another post or option within Facebook, or leaving Facebook entirely. The feature is currently only available on the desktop version, though as noted, this is only in test, not the final variation you can expect for this option.
Facebook has been making a big push into video content in the last few months. After introducing autoplay video into the News Feed, Facebook announced in April that it's now serving 4 billion video views, per day, to users, rivaling YouTube for overall video consumption. Since then, Facebook has announced a range of measures, like an embeddable video player, an algorithm shift taking into account time spent viewing video content, and a new video advertising partnership program to capitalize on video views, all of which is designed to give more prominence to on-platform video content. Such emphasis is not surprising - a recent report from ZenithOptimedia found that online video is the fastest growing advertising category, growing to $10.9 billion in 2014 and forecast for 29% growth, per year, through to 2017, leading to it becoming a $23 billion industry. Given those projections, and the increased viewership of online video content, it's clear that Facebook sees this as a way to stay ahead of the game and increase it's hold on both advertising dollars and audience attention. The "floating player" is just another step towards innovating and improving the Facebook video experience.
What's more, if Facebook can get you to open another video while you move on and do other things, that's another view that adds to that 4 billion view count and pushes Facebook that little bit further ahead of YouTube on total views. If they can clearly pull ahead of YouTube in view counts, that's a compelling narrative to sell to potential ad partners.
The new "floating player" is available to some users now, and worth a look - who knows, it could become a significant part of your daily media consumption routine. The daily news playing in the corner as you catch up on all the updates from your friends? Maybe Facebook will become your personal media hub afterall.