Native video is a hot topic at the moment. Last week in a post on Medium, Hank Green discussed the inaccuracies of Facebook’s native video claims, which was particularly interesting given the number of articles declaring it as the beginning of the end for YouTube.

In a nutshell, while reach and views are high, engagement and completion was relatively low, because the point at which Facebook counts a video view is 3 seconds.

When I spoke with Adam Fraser on the EchoJunction podcast a few weeks ago, we discussed Facebook native video and the reasons why, on the surface, it seems to be doing better than embedded YouTube videos.

User Intent

YouTube’s position as the second biggest search engine is because of user intent – it’s a destination where people seek to be entertained or informed. A recent study by Google showed that 100m hours of “how to” content had been viewed already in North America on YouTube this year.

Facebook however, is more of a lean back experience. No one comes to Facebook to specifically look for video, and Facebook decide what they think we might be interested in seeing in our news feed. Promoted content from brands pushes video in front of us.

Discovery of interesting content can be best described as accidental. With a view being counted at 3 seconds, it’s just enough time to for a viewer to assess if they want to continue watching and decide not to.

Some types of content will do well, as the nature of connections would indicate our friends will have similar interests, but would we consider this content as truly useful? While it can certainly be entertaining, does that relevance hold beyond the view?

While the same argument can be made about YouTube being full of content that is interesting but not necessarily useful, it still remains one of the first stops for people wanting to be educated on a topic, and it has depth, coverage and most importantly structure to make discovery and consumption easy.

Truly useful video content will only succeed where there is a customer need, which is why a video platform like YouTube will continue to be more engaging than a platform with native video functionality like Facebook.

* TV image from Susan E Adam via Flickr. Used under creative commons licence