The first band to build its fan base on YouTube just debuted a music video on Facebook. OK Go, the video masterminds responsible for viral hits like “Here It Goes Again” and “The Writing’s On The Wall,” on Thursday published “Upside Down & Inside Out” on its Facebook page and, just as you’d expect an OK Go video to do, it took off like a shot, piling up 25 million views in just 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the 529,000 people who subscribe to the band’s YouTube channel got this, a quick video simply telling fans that if they wanted to watch the band’s latest creation, they would have to go over to Facebook:
In this fast-changing digital world, bands and brands will change their strategies all the time. But OK Go’s move is the latest piece of evidence that Facebook presents a grave threat to YouTube, and one that extends far beyond the sheer size of Facebook’s audience: Facebook’s algorithm may actually be driving YouTube stars off YouTube, taking the advertising dollars marketers spend to create and promote those stars' content with them.
They're also migrating to a site that allows brands to target consumers with an unprecedented level of precision. “Clients are starting to see the value in engagement over just impressions,” Rebecca McCuiston, senior vice president of Influencer Marketing at 360i, wrote in an email to International Business Times. “Some of our influencers are using Facebook for video and content distribution because they can promote content really effectively and hypertarget the types of people who see their messages, so they find they get better engagement rates.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that YouTube made OK Go into what it is today. The band even has a YouTube tab on its Facebook page, a relic from an earlier time when bands tried to make Facebook the hub of all their content consumption. There, users can find the band’s videos, ambitious one-take affairs made everywhere from the desert to airplane cabins in zero gravity, that have piled up more than 200 million views on YouTube over the past 10 years. A number of them were made using money and products furnished by brands, including Allstate, Honda, Chevy and in the case of "Upside Down & Inside Out," S7 Airlines.
But over the course of those 10 years, Facebook has grown from a site where people shared YouTube clips into a video powerhouse in its own right: The site’s visitors now watch more than 8 billion video views there every day, and 70 percent of them are native to Facebook, meaning they’ve been uploaded to Facebook’s servers rather than linked to from a third party site like YouTube or Vimeo.
That’s happened because Facebook’s news feed algorithm privileges videos that users have uploaded to Facebook directly, leading to far fewer YouTube-hosted videos in its users' feeds. The bias is now so pronounced that people have begun ripping video content off YouTube and uploading it to Facebook directly to get the feedback they want, a practice many YouTube creators have complained about.
There is a weird irony to those complaints; YouTube owes a lot of its own rise to millions of users uploading music, TV shows and video clips they did not own the rights to. Indeed, versions of "Upside Down & Inside Out" that were illegally recorded from Facebook began appearing on YouTube within hours of the Facebook premiere.
That cat-and-mouse game does not change the fact that YouTube and its stars cannot count on Facebook to be a partner of theirs. “YouTube should honestly be concerned,” VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk wrote last summer in an article about Facebook video’s rise.
OK Go’s decision is significant for another reason. In addition to their regular music fans, the band is beloved by the advertising world because of its willingness to partner with brands on creative endeavors. Indeed, S7 Airlines, the prominent Russian carrier that helped OK Go make the video, uploaded its own copy of “Upside Down & Inside Out” to its Facebook page.
That video has been watched more than 327,000 times, and while that’s not in the same league as OK Go’s view count, the level of data that S7 can gather about the Facebook users that watch it far outpaces what they can gather on YouTube. “Facebook gives you the ability to target consumers like we’ve never seen before in digital,” Vaynerchuk wrote.
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.