Facebook emulates rivals’ monetization playbooks to draw more creators
- Facebook is introducing a number of new features to attract more online content creators, some of which resemble tools on rival sites like Amazon’s Twitch, CNet reported. The announcements arrive around a Facebook Creator Day today in Malibu, California, and ahead of the popular five-day VidCon conference for creators, which kicks off Wednesday in Anaheim.
- New offerings include Stars, which appear to function like Twitch’s Bit Emotes as a sort of tipping system where users can send creators small payments during streams. Facebook is at the same time building out a focus on fan subscriptions akin to the model made popular by Patreon. Starting next year, Facebook will take a 30% cut of revenue for any new desktop subscribers its creators receive, along with a 15% cut of revenue from mobile subscriptions entering their second active year, per CNet. Patreon only takes up to a 12% cut of revenue from subscriptions, according to CNBC.
- Facebook will add more intimate groups that are only accessible to subscribers to a particular creator in a move similar to Twitch, which debuted supporter-only streams late last month. Facebook also said it will offer greater flexibility as to where midroll ads can be placed on creator videos and more analytics tools through its Brand Collabs Manager, per CNet.
What this all means:
Facebook is famously not shy about cribbing from competitors in the search for new revenue streams and drivers of user engagement. That reputation appears to be holding fast as the social network tries to court more creators, the types of online influencers who have turned Google’s YouTube and Twitch into cultural juggernauts with a strong appeal to young audiences like Gen Z. Facebook, with over 2 billion global users, could be a considerable player in this space, but has struggled to get some of its bigger video bets, like the premium content hub Watch, off the ground.
The new features announced this week seem to pull heavily from Twitch’s playbook, indicating that Facebook could be trying to win over creators focused on game streaming, a generally popular and increasingly lucrative category. Facebook angling for a bigger slice of that market also comes as YouTube continues to frustrate creators and critics who believe the platform doesn’t do enough to enforce policies around areas like hate speech.
VidCon has traditionally been dominated by YouTube, but the platforms in attendance have diversified as the event’s stature has grown in tandem with creator culture. The conference, acquired by Viacom last year, annually attracts thousands of fans eager to meet with their favorite online personalities in the real world. The show has garnered the type of popularity that has inevitably drawn the interest of more brands. Facebook started having a noticeable presence at the show roughly three years ago, as noted in the Los Angeles Times, and has only ramped up a focus on video content and creators in the time since.
Last June, the social giant rolled out the Brand Collabs Manager, a tool that lets marketers connect with creators for branded content partnerships. Around that time, Facebook also began letting more creators experiment with Ad Breaks and subscriptions. Two months ago, Facebook updated its video-ranking system to provide a boost to original content that fostered viewer loyalty and longer viewing times.
A push for more creators comes as Facebook is adjusting other aspects of its business following controversies over data privacy. The company announced earlier this year that it would unify its apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, on the back end amid a pivot to centering more interactions on private, encrypted messaging. In June, it also unveiled Libra, a controversial blockchain-powered digital currency that will roll out globally next year.
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