Facebook flexes its video muscles: 8 billion views a day

Facebook is getting 8 billion video views a day across its platform, a surge that is driving up ad prices, according to the company.

The social network, which released its quarterly earnings report today, also said that daily users average more than 1 billion people for the first time. On top of that, the platform delivers 8 billion video views a day up from 4 billion in April.

Facebook has been investing heavily in its autoplay video product, and brands are creating more content to help validate that decision. Facebook video is not without its critics. Rob Norman, chief digital officer at ad-buying giant GroupM, recently told Digiday that the agency has issues with how Facebook measures video.

YouTube is definitely keeping close watch of Facebook’s video ambitions, which Mark Zuckerberg described like this: “We have a chance to build the best place to watch and share video,” the CEO said, during the call with Wall Street analysts.

In all, Facebook said it did $4.3 billion in ad sales last quarter, which was up from $3 billion a year ago.

Facebook said prices were rising because of higher quality ads and strong demand from advertisers. The average price for ads rose 61 percent year over year.

Facebook has been building more immersive ads, not just video, with carousel photos that promote a series of images. Also, more ads are showing up on Instagram.

Sheryl Sandberg offered a rare candid glimpse into a famous brand’s strategy on the platform.  She told analysts that Ikea, the Swedish retailer, spent $35,000 on carousel ads, leading to more than $2 million in online sales.

Carousel ads have been praised by some marketing firms, who said they generate more clicks from users, meaning more interest.

Facebook also discussed its bets on its Oculus Rift virtual reality acquisition and WhatsApp, both costing big money for the company.

Zuckerberg said that Oculus would eventually be a major draw for immersive video, but still doesn’t expect the virtual reality goggles to go mainstream for years.

“These kinds of new platforms take a long time to develop,” he said.

As for the video platform that is growing, Zuckerberg said more products were coming. Facebook is building beyond autoplay video in the News Feed, and recently launched a separate feed for videos.

Facebook is sharing ad revenue with some of the video creators to encourage them to embrace the platform, like they do YouTube.

Zuckerberg also hinted at giving the video producers a way to sell their content directly to users.

“There’s a certain class of content which is only going to come onto Facebook if there’s a good way to compensate the content owners,” he said.