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Facebook says video is big, as daily views exceed 3 billion

In the past few months, Facebook Inc. has prioritized showing videos in members' news feeds.

[SAN FRANCISCO] In the past few months, Facebook Inc. has prioritized showing videos in members' news feeds.

Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that the effort is paying off in a big way.

The world's biggest social-networking service said it now has 3 billion daily video views, triple the 1 billion figure disclosed in June.

"The fact that we have this much consumer video on Facebook means we have an opportunity to grow our ad business and that's exciting for marketers," Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said on a conference call.

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Yet Facebook's method for tracking views has a low threshold: a view is counted when someone has a clip on their screen for at least three seconds, even if it's automatically playing on silent. Whether or not that means someone actually wanted to see each moving image, the release of the data indicates that Facebook's executives want investors to know that video is a priority for the company.

Facebook is racing with Google Inc.'s YouTube, Twitter Inc. and others to capture more of the online-video ad market, which is growing faster than other parts of the industry and is projected to reach US$7.77 billion (S$10.51 billion) this year, according to EMarketer Inc.

Facebook has also been tweaking its design to make it easier for marketers to buy video ads, while looking beyond the social network with the acquisition of LiveRail, which serves ads on ABC Family, A&E Networks and other sites. Competition is increasing: Twitter this week unveiled a way to film and edit video directly from its application.

The biggest challenge is showing advertisers how to measure the effectiveness of video ads, which work differently than ads on YouTube and Hulu. On Facebook, video ads don't play before other content, like they do other places on the Web.

"There's not a standard way of measuring the effectiveness or the returns associated with video ads," said Shyam Patil, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. "You talk to 10 different advertisers, you're going to get 10 different kinds of ways to measure return on investment, and there's debate about what's considered a view."