- YouTube, Google's video-hosting service with 1.5 billion monthly users, updated its mobile application to let people share videos and chat with each other. Users can now share and receive videos in the app, chat about them via text, reply with another video and invite others to the conversation, according to a blog post by the company.
- The new features, which transform the YouTube app into a mobile messenger, have been in testing since last year. They were rolled out to users in Canada in a "soft launch" at the beginning of the year, followed by an expansion to parts of Latin America, TechCrunch reported. A global rollout will continue over the next few days for iOS and Android.
- Users can start a group with up to 30 people in the app, but none of the features are available on desktop.
YouTube's new video-sharing capability saves users the extra steps of copying a video link and pasting it into other social media or messaging apps, as well as keeps users on its app by making the platform more of a social hub. That extra attention is likelty help support efforts to sell ads for YouTube.
Video sharing and chat is also another way for YouTube's parent company Google to encroach on the core services of popular apps Facebook and Snapchat. Google's social media service, Google+, hasn't impeded Facebook's growth to two billion users, but both companies are ramping up their efforts in the market for video advertising.
Google and Facebook already dominate digital advertising, capturing more than 77% of the $12 billion growth in the online ad market last year, according to eMarketer, and the next battleground for the so-called "duopoly" will likely be in original video content. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company will invest money in original programming, while YouTube already has a premium video service, YouTube Red, and a cable channel package called YouTube TV. Social sharing could help drive important word-of-mouth for the new programs.
Marketers currently invest more in video advertising on Facebook and YouTube than they do on Twitter and Instagram, but they're increasing how much they spend on all four social media platforms. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. marketers run video ads on Facebook, while 51% place spots on YouTube, eMarketer said, citing an April 2017 survey from cloud-based video creation company Animoto. Marketers are more confident in video content on Facebook and YouTube when it comes to driving views, engagements and purchases partially based on audience size. For example, 83% of Animoto survey respondents expressed confidence in Facebook videos to drive purchases, while 67% felt that about Instagram.
As Instagram has shown in its battle with Snapchat, audiences can be very fickle. Instagram Stories, a feature that mimics Snapchat Stories for collections of photos and videos, now has 250 million daily users, exceeding Snapchat's 166 million. YouTube, on the other hand, will have to build its social network from scratch, so it's still too early to tell if its new chat and sharing features will stick with users.