Facebook has introduced new tools that will give its publishers even more customization options when distributing their videos, in their effort to grow into a serious competitor for YouTube and make their website a one-stop shop for all types of content. Many of these updates will seem familiar to those publishers who are regular users of YouTube, and they make it clear (as if it wasn't before) that Facebook is gearing up for a big fight for video on the web.
Facebook announced two primary groups of updates in a blog post yesterday: the first focuses on customization options when uploading videos, the second on improving the back-end tools publishers use to organize them.
The customization options include several new features to help restrict the distribution process for publishers, mainly the ability to publish "secret videos" and prevent embedding of videos on third-party sites. The secret videos feature seems to be a direct response to YouTube's unlisted videos feature: secret videos cannot be searched for, and can only be viewed by users who have a direct URL to the video.That last option is an odd choice — typically videos are targeted to a certain gender audience, not restricted. It's not super clear what Facebook's thinking is.
The second group of updates is similarly basic. The Video Library tool focuses on helping publishers organize a large collection of their videos, through which publishers can now make mass changes across multiple videos, if they so choose. Publishers can edit a video's metadata even after it has been uploaded, manage distribution options similar to those mentioned above, and of course, choose to prevent third-party embeds.
In trying to catch up to YouTube, and with this round of updates, Facebook seems to have done only that, and not much more. The new features, which should roll out to Page owners in the next couple of weeks, just seem to meet the minimum required feature list for video creators. The next test for Facebook is getting them to start investing in the platform it's building out.