Facebook is making the right choice in targeting video first, as it already has traction and video-based services tend to have the lowest requirements for artificial intelligence to make them easy, fun and useful.
With the launch of a TV app being just the latest move Facebook has made in video, it is increasingly clear that media consumption is Facebook’s No. 1 priority for 2017. The TV app that is being launched is very simple in that it makes it easy for a user that does not have time to watch videos on Facebook during the day to easily do so at night on a larger screen.
This should enable a better video experience and begin to spread engagement across other devices, but it will come with the added complication of multiple resolutions and bit rates. On a mobile device the screen is small which means that lower resolution videos and bit rates are acceptable, but once these are played on a larger screen, their shortcomings quickly become obvious.
This move into TV comes hot on the heels of the addition of a tab at the bottom of the Facebook app which links to the top trending videos, as well as videos that Facebook thinks that the user might like.
The TV app will initially be available on Amazon TV and Apple TV but I expect that it will quickly spread to Xbox, PlayStation and the other streaming TV devices that are available. The one place I don’t expect to find it is Chromecast, as Facebook’s video aspirations are clearly a challenge to YouTube.
Of the three new areas of Digital Life (gaming, media consumption and search) that I see Facebook targeting, going for video first makes complete sense. This is because Facebook already has a lot of traction in this space, and also because it is the least demanding in terms of requiring intelligent automation. The total number of video items that are present is very low compared to other things like music or searches, and knowing who posted the video is a good indicator of its content and who will like it.
I continue to see Facebook as the laggard in AI, so targeting video is sensible as it gives it more time to improve its AI before having to apply it to more difficult tasks. Furthermore, the fact that video is a fast growing, but likely soon to mature, medium for digital advertising also means that the time to really address it is now.
I see the TV app as just the beginning, and would not be surprised to see this being followed up with premium content, taking it into the realm of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
That being said, I don’t think that Facebook’s offering in media consumption is anything like mature, so it will be some time yet before it becomes a real destination like YouTube. Consequently, I still see a slow period of revenue expansion while its new strategies mature before revenues take off again. As this reality sinks in, I think the valuation could unwind somewhat providing a better opportunity than now to invest for the long term.
This article first appeared on RadioFreeMobile