If you use Facebook, and that these days that is most of us, you’ve probably noticed a lot more videos popping up in your newsfeed. You also probably notice that these video auto play which can be annoying (and perhaps embarrassing) at times. What you may not appreciate is that Facebook video is beginning to mount a credible threat to YouTube.

How could that be you may ask? YouTube is everywhere. Yes it is, but in many cases YouTube viewing is anonymous however, because you login every time to access Facebook, it knows exactly who you are, what you look at, how long you look at it and so on. That provides some very powerful analytics that Facebook can use to profile users and sell them targeted advertising.

For many users, Facebook is the Internet, and they don’t wander far from the walled garden that Facebook provides. During all that time Facebook is keeping a very close eye on you and exactly what interactions you make. By contrast, most of Google’s properties don’t require you to specifically identify yourself. You can of course create a Google login and reap the benefits of personalising the service, but unlike Facebook you don’t have to do this to access the content.

With over 1 billion regular Facebook users who login to the service every day and happily uploading their thoughts, comments, photos and videos, they provide an enormous set of signals that Facebook can use to target advertising at them. Remember the old credo -‘If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product’.

It is an interesting journey we have been taking when it comes to our online environment. It started off with individual web servers hosting content, then services like AOL provided a highly cultivated and walled garden for regular users to access the online world. That fell away and we moved back to individual sites providing content but it now seems the worm is turning again and many are heading back to the highly ‘standardised’ service of Facebook. The question now is, how long will it be before the worm turns again and will in turn in the same direction it has always?

We continue to look on with interest.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net