Online video advertising: Comparing Facebook & YouTube | Articles

As the marketing battle between Facebook for video and YouTube has been on for a few months now, we’ll cover in this article the characteristics that make each of these platform unique.

The objective is not to end up with a winner and a loser but to go deeper into the elements that differentiate YouTube from Facebook video in order to help marketers make better decisions regarding video advertising.

We’ll start with an assessment of the main differences between Facebook for video and YouTube. In this part, we’ll cover the way videos are distributed and how both tech companies count views and cost. We’ll also deep dive into the targeting options as well as the engagement Facebook and YouTube benefit from. Then, we’ll move on to the complementarity of YouTube and Facebook video.

Facebook vs. YouTube


The main difference between Facebook and YouTube lies in the way the videos are distributed. On Youtube, people watching videos choose to do so. Most of them go to the website, search for a specific video and click to watch it. We can assume users are likely to have the sound on and look at the video playing on their screen.

On the other side, videos on Facebook will play regardless of the user’s choice. On Facebook, videos are autoplaying while users scroll down through their News Feed. In addition to this, it’s important to remind that Facebook videos are set on mute by default. Therefore, the message delivered in the video might not be heard by the user, hence the importance of strong creatives to drive his/her attention.

If YouTube keeps boasting its video recommendation feature, Facebook also holds a major asset : his algorithm. Indeed, the Facebook algorithm is working hard on recommending users content they’re interested in: addressing the right video to the right person seems to be their mantra.


The way both platforms count views is also different. On YouTube, a video view is recorded when the user has watched at least 30 seconds of the video or when the users engages with the content (clicks).

While Facebook claims viewership after 3 seconds of a video is played - even though the video is on autoplaying and on mute as a user scrolls through his or her News Feed. This raises the question of views’ quality on Facebook. In truth, it has been proved that when 90% of people are being counted, only 20% of them are actually “viewing” the video. We notice a similar trend among our clients. If the global view rate is very close on both Facebook and YouTube - between 20% and 30% - the percentage of people that watched at least 75% is on average 30% higher on YouTube than on Facebook


When it comes to the bill, Facebook and YouTube have a very different way to compute it. On YouTube, marketers only pay when a user watches at least 30 seconds of a video or all of it - if shorter than 30 seconds-. This allows advertisers to benefit from a ‘free-30 seconds-diffusion of their video. Knowing this, companies have a strong interest in delivering their message within the first 30 seconds as they won’t be charged for those first 30 seconds.

As for Facebook, the tech company charges advertisers after a three-second view. Being autoplay, we can easily say that you’ll have to reach into your wallet pretty much every time a view is counted.


Thanks to Facebook’s huge database, marketers can easily target very specific groups of people, making it easier for them to reach their target demographic. Want to find a 35-year-old man, working as an engineer, dad of 3 children and that loves playing tennis in his free time? Facebook can do this. Besides, with its over 1 billion active users, Facebook allows marketers to get a high reach.

On YouTube, different targeting methods are also available: you can target users based on their browsing history (interest targeting), show your videos to people that visited your website or watched a specific video (retargeting). Also, throughout the years, Youtube has collected a huge amount of content that has been clustered into themes, also available for targeting (topic targeting). Still, Facebook allows you to be more granular in your targeting.

Another interesting targeting method available on both platforms is the ‘customer match’, a retargeting method that allows you to retarget users/customers based on their email address.


The social atmosphere of Facebook makes it easier for videos to go viral than on YouTube. In a time where a successful marketing is more about starting a conversation with users rather than based on a number of views, companies often consider those engagement metrics as part of the equation while measuring the success of a campaign.

On the the other side, when people land on YouTube, they are often looking for entertainment or a solution to a problem. Therefore, even if users are less keen to like, share or comment videos on YouTube than on Facebook, the quality of their engagement is actually higher as they’re usually 100% committed to viewing it.

Facebook & YouTube

After having considered both platforms’ features, we’ll tackle their complementarity.

In the end, Facebook and YouTube are very different when it comes to video marketing. They both have advantages and disadvantages and play with different rules when it comes to counting views, costs, …

If you want to target a very granular audience or if your objective is to have the highest reach possible in a short period of time, then you might lean towards Facebook.

If you have built dedicated content or if your are doing storytelling (series, ‘how to’,..) aimed at a large audience, you might want to turn to YouTube.

In a nutshell, by making use of both platforms, you’ll definitely get the most of your video marketing. Having both a Facebook and a Youtube video strategy will allow you reach the widest possible audience.

Author: Eléonore de Richecour


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