Facebook giveth, Facebook taketh: A curious case of video apps

26 thoughts on “Facebook giveth, Facebook taketh: A curious case of video apps”

  1. Great analysis, this reminds me of Facebook 1.0 when people were throwing around sheep and inviting you to man their police station in Cityville. Facebook being the great gatekeeper (think mobile phone carriers), they can dial popularity up or down at will. I’m stunned that socialcam et al get such monstrous valuations – good video is hard to produce and none of these guys have any revenue model… besides being bought by Facebook!

  2. > If you want to know the reason for my skepticism, just look at the lameness/pointlessness of the advertisements that show up next to your stream.

    I think that’s more an ad inventory problem than a testament to their technological ability to target ads.

  3. Meanwhile the volume on social readers (Guardian, Washington Post, etc.) has dropped so low in the news feed algorithm, I don’t think I’ve seen a “xxx read a story on yyy” piece in days. And I’ve been scrolling.

    1. That’s because people want to share what they like not just what they read, the social readers tell everyone I’ve read something before I’ve had chance to do the actual reading.

  4. The biggest current threat to facebook is this autosharing feature they introduced. In my experience, the privacy hurdles over the past few years led to people posting less often and the newsfeed suffered as a result. If their data indicates that same trend on a mass scale then I understand why they introduced the autosharing, but the result is my feed just feels like one of those old email addresses that I hardly check because it’s mostly just junk in there.

    Kudos to these apps and sites though for taking advantage of it and essentially broadcasting every pageview they get. I’ll stick to youtube for finding video content.

  5. Great article that points to YouTube as the winner in video. I’m using the iMovie app on my iPhone: great automatic audio capture, easy quick edits and then upload to YouTube (where their new enhancements handle color corrections, etc). Hard to imagine either of these doing a better job.

  6. Hey Om – thanks for the feedback. My name is Mike Vernal, and I lead the engineering team for Facebook Platform. To set context, nothing has changed with news feed. What has changed is that new categories of apps are sharing different types of content on Facebook. What shows up in news feed is based on user behavior and reflects many quality signals, and any updates we make are based on these signals. We aren’t making changes to influence the prospects of a specific app. There are fluctuations and competition any time a new category of apps emerge. Our focus is to make sure the right content is getting in front of people who want to see it. It’s up to the apps to provide the experience long–term that people want to come back to.

    Given that you’re seeing some content in your feed that you don’t want to, we still have some more work to do. It’s still early. What you might think is spam, another person might love. We’re trying to strike the right balance for each person, focusing aggressively on cutting content users have reported as spam out of the system.

    Hope that helps.

  7. I pointed out this on my blog a few days ago, and have a running conversation there with Socialcam’s community manager on Twitter. They are clearly trying to pass these YouTube videos off as their own. The meta description on each video that appears in your Facebook newsfeed is “Video recorded with Socialcam” even though these videos are clearly old recycled YouTube videos. Here’s my full conversation with her: http://www.loganabbott.com/post/22678504530/why-do-some-videos-on-socialcam-appear-to-be-embedded

  8. Great article Om. Seems NEA is smarter than this to invest in a company that is so obviously taking advantage of a viral loop in Facebook that will be short lived. Other companies like Slide/Zynga were built around these viral loops, but at least they were driving revenue. Viddy doesn’t make money, and the content within the app is non desirable from an advertising perspective (too much UGC as well as porn).

  9. The thing I don’t get is how investors are silly enough to pour huge money into these sorts of apps based only on quick traffic spikes. Viddy raised $30M from big name investors based primarily on the fact that they were getting a lot of facebook traffic which historically tends not to convert into long term users. Viddy ramped up their expenses quickly and then as soon as the fickle audience leaves for the next-cool-app, they are stuck with extra server capacity and employees that they now need to get rid of. Timeline integration is not the smartest thing to do for the long run in terms of building a company. Start-ups used to see the “Techcrunch” and “GigaOm” effect in terms of quick traffic spikes and I think we are going to see that from Timeline integration but on a much larger scale.

  10. It surprises me how quickly investors forget the fundamentals of investing when they get caught up in the hype. Viddy had to ramp up their expenses by a huge amount because of the Facebook traffic they were getting (both in terms of servers and hiring). Historically, facebook users have been a fickle bunch and although they sign up for an app, they don’t stick around for long. This is troublesome for start-ups and they need to be careful about timeline integration. Yes, your traffic numbers skyrocket very quickly but so do your costs. The traffic numbers will plummet but the costs increased are harder to bring down. This reminds of the “Techcrunch” and “GigaOm” effect many start-ups used to talk about a few years ago when talking about traffic spikes. We are going to see the same thing with Timeline integration but the traffic spike and traffic free-fall will be much larger.

  11. Thanks for the good article. I also have a lot of interest in Camera apps, and found a new app which has great filter effects: you can download and check it out from the link. recood.com
    I expect a post about this kind of non-popular apps as well. 

  12. It’s really interesting article and makes me thinking what is really important things for services. From a user’s point of view, I like Recood.com among other mobile video apps: it is only focus on users’ generated videos. However, the big reason why Recood is not famous enough might be they didn’t do what Socialcam and Viddy did?

  13. Great analysis. Some people may be misled into thinking that YouTube content embedded on Socialcam is actually from Socialcam. But I’d characterize this more as Socialcam arbitraging the fact that it leverages Open Graph to integrate with people’s timelines, and YouTube doesn’t. Presumably, YouTube doesn’t do this because its parent company relationship is holding it back. But Facebook’s timeline is patently effective at facilitating viral discovery of YouTube’s video content in ways that YouTube/Google can’t do themselves.

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