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VidCon '17: Facebook Announces App for Video Creators

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Facebook's VP of product Fidji Simo announced Friday at VidCon that the company is working on an app specifically targeted at video content creators that will include a Live Creator Kit that allows creators to add intros, outros, frames, and custom stickers.

"We've been meeting with creators, and undertanding what they're doing on the platform is inspiring," Simo said. "They're finding ways to use the platform that we haven't thought about. They use it in a fundamentally different way than others."

The new app, which will roll out for testing later this year, will open up to a live camera and features a community tab that allows creators to interact with viewers. Unlike Mentions, which is open only to public figures, the new app will be open to all creators. Users who already have Mentions will be upgraded to the new app, Simo said.

Simo said that Facebook will also focus more on helping creators monetize their content.  Ad Breaks, which now lets crators with more than 2,000 followers insert 15-second ads into their videos, will also soon roll out to all users. She said that Ad Breaks have thus far been used more successfully in live videos than in pre-recorded content.

For creators who make branded content, the company has also made it easier for them to add tags showing who the sponsor is. "In live it's somewhat easier than for regular videos," Simo said. "You have someone who can tell the audience there is going to be a 15-second break, and creators are good at keeping the audience engaged during the Ad Break. For regular videos, it's key to figure out where to place the Ad Break."

Simo also highlighted the different ways Facebook users consume video—in their newsfeed, in the video tab, or via the Facebook app for smart TVs and set-top boxes.

"We want to address all the different modes in which people want to consume video," she said. "Maybe they just discover videos, in which case newsfeed is very good. Sometimes, people just want to watch video, so then they use the video tab. Sometimes you want the lean-back experience on the big screen, and we're seeing really longwatch times on our tv apps." She added that the company is seeing an increase in people saving videos during the day, then watching them in the evening on the television.

A day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the the social media platform's new mission statement to "focus on bringing the world closer together" by building communities, Simo echoed that theme in her talk, which was a fireside chat with Natalie Jarvey, staff writer, digital media for the Hollywood Reporter.

"When you pair video with social functionality, it allows peole to come together over video content in a way we haven't seen before. Way we can make video a way to help build communities.

"Facebook is one of the most social places in your life, so it makes sense that watching videos on Facebook would reflect that. We typically build product by looking what's happening and trying to amplify it. We saw shows building audiences and creating communities. When I think about what we can uniquely bring to the table, it's the ability for creators to find their audience. We're good at connecting people to the content that they like."

That focus on building communities is reflected in the original content that Facebook is funding and licensing. "A lot of the content we are starting to fund is more toward the episodic and serialized format," Simo said. "To build community, you need to build loyalty, and that's hard to do with one-off viral hits."

Sports video is another area that Facebook is embracing, airing one Major League Baseball game per week this season. "Sports is one of the most social forms of content that exists," Simo said. "Our experimentaion is around how we can bring some of these community featuers to sports fans. If we simply show you that a friend is also watching, you will  watch longer. You want to see what the whole community is doing, but also sidebar with a friend."

Facebook VP of product Fidji Simo (left) in conversaton with Natalie Jarvey, staff writer, digital media for the Hollywood Reporter.

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