Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
A month or so ago, Facebook reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and let’s just say they crushed the ball. Knocked the cover off. Pointed to the bleachers and then hit it out of the park.
The big moneymaker was its burgeoning video ad business. Facebook states that people are watching 100 million hours of video per day on its social platform. More than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day. Just let that sink in. Facebook isn’t simply a video discovery platform; it’s becoming the video discovery platform. And it’s still growing.
(Worth noting, YouTube is still the market leader and gets roughly 4 billion views per day, but much of the discovery of the new videos is happening on Facebook).
While people in the publishing industry may find this interesting, most won’t find it particularly relevant. To ignore this news, however, would be a monumental mistake. Don’t underestimate what Facebook is and what it is becoming. Facebook is the world’s best discovery platform, and it makes money by going after digital content that keeps people spending more time on Facebook. And after video, there is a clear line to ebooks.
As dominant as Amazon currently is in ebooks, the retailer’s major weakness is discovery. More often than not, users have to find a book somewhere else and then go to Amazon and purchase it. There are additional, unnecessary steps in their process, and the company has no easy way to remedy it.
Facebook, on the other hand, could solve these issues almost overnight. No one has a crystal ball to see what Facebook will do or when it will do it, but there are a number of signs that point to a future in which books are found, purchased and shared on Facebook.
Consider the following:
• Facebook has more than a billion users on its site every day. Friends and family are sharing everything they are watching and reading, and Facebook is getting better and better at finding ways to keep people on the site. Articles are short reads and people can leave quickly. But if Facebook had a reader for ebooks, the amount of time people would stay on the site would climb exponentially.
• Facebook makes money primarily on ad dollars. If video usage increases, video ad dollars increase. If ebooks and e-reading became another arrow in the platform’s discovery quiver, ad dollars would increase from companies targeting these users and from content creators who would spend more to promote their content.
• The bookstore of the future is not centralized. It is decentralized, and it will give readers the ability to buy their books wherever they are, whenever they want. Readers will get their ebooks over wifi at Starbucks as a reward for buying their Under Armour running gear from the local community college, in the Target check-out line, in their McDonalds Happy Meal, or on Facebook—and it will all be readable on one e-reader. Perhaps the Facebook e-reader. And it will give users the ability to read and share in one location.
• While Facebook getting into ebooks would not decimate Amazon’s bottom line—as most of the retailer’s revenue comes from various others sources—it would be an emotional kick in the groin. Bezos built his business on the foundation of books. And Zuck could usher in a changing of the guard.
• Zuck just became a billionaire and a dad. And he cares deeply about making the world a better, more connected place. He has even started his own book club so that others can have access to the same education he is getting through books. Don’t underestimate his desire to do something good with all he has been given.
Last time I checked, I wasn’t invited to the Facebook Board of Directors meetings, so I don’t have any direct knowledge of how the company wants to expand. But I know it does want to expand. And when it is finished conquering the land of digital video, it’s just a small step to arrive in the land of digital books.
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