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We are seeing consumption in languages & low-connectivity areas, says Facebook India’s Saurabh Doshi

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With millennials increasingly consuming video online and on their handsets on Youtube and on VOD services, Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has also rushed in to provide users with their unique experience. And while it has been a little late getting to the party with video, the Mark Zuckerburg led firm has been pretty clear about its intentions to own this space as well.

With more than two billion monthly active users, and 100 million daily  actives, Facebook could cause unimaginable disruption with its video strategy.  While that might happen online on some connected devices, in India it is going to be on mobile, thanks to its vast mobile population of close to a billion.

Facebook India head-media partnerships Saurabh Doshi echoed that sentiment as well at indiantelevsion.com’s OTT summit VIDNET 2017 in Mumbai two weeks ago. He stated that almost 95 per cent of the Indian population logs on to the social media network on their mobiles. He was on stage having a fireside chat with well-known Youtube creator and comedian Saurabh Pant.  Excerpts from the conversation.

Can you quickly start with what is currently happening in India and what is the trend going on on Facebook?

We get over 184 million active users monthly out of which 178 million come from mobile phones, so almost 95 per cent of the population in India is using Facebook on their mobile. Close to 100 million visit the platform everyday. On Whatsapp, we have around 200 million monthly active users.

The interesting thing is that Facebook also deals with multiple formats, considering use of videos. As a creator myself, I have noticed that it has exploded over the last year and seeing far more traction. So can you tell us something about the multiple formats and how best to use them.

We started with being a text platform. Over a period of time, the journey moved to photos after which we saw a big consumer shift happening towards videos like the Ice bucket challenge kicked off its whole journey on Facebook. So it is generally from videos to live, 360 degree, and VR which is an extension of different platforms. Recently, we launched camera effects through which the creators can create filters, masks, emoji’s.

With Instagram, what’s happening is like put up the story and you get an immediate click on it.

Yes, Instagram is also doing great in India, its growing relatively very fast, we see a lot of youth coming on the platform. Around 200 million people across the globe are using Instagram stories.

At a session here, Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami gave Facebook a very happy endorsement where he said he prefers Facebook over Twitter because of a lack of anonymity. What is your take on that?

Real people on the platform have always been our USP. When you have real people and real conversations happening on real time basis, it has been carried to other platforms as well. We have a community business team across the world working 24X7 to pull out fake pages and accounts.

As I said Facebook videos have exploded from last year, my Facebook and Youtube views are almost even and sometimes views on Facebook were far more. So is there any trend you are noticing with regards to content creation and what works and what does not, from a video point of view?

First of all I want to elaborate a bit. Facebook started up being a friend and family network and is still that. In fact, that is the core DNA. Secondly, there is need to either have a conversation as to what is happening in your personal life and also what is happening in your surroundings like breaking news or a movie trailer etc. - the ability to give an environment where anyone can comment, chat, share.

I have been using Facebook Live very  consistently over a period of six to eight months and I have noticed that some of the live videos hit higher numbers than the stand-up. The new Facebook layout has a separate tab for videos, where you can see videos all across the platform.

At various points of time we keep on experimenting with lots of products, the behaviour of a user to pull out a phone, watch some videos, and look at some text. People come to the platform not only because of the news feed but also a place where the creators’ content can be curated so that people can follow those creatives.

What kind of content do you like to watch on Facebook: is there any particular channel or creative that you find exciting? Going forward, what do you think are some of the trends you see with regards to Facebook videos?

Personally, I am a strong consumer of news, I discover all my news through Facebook, as Satya (Raghavan fro YouTube) mentioned, we see a growth around the languages, regional content and local content. So we focus on supporting creators and organisations in some of those areas. People with low-end devices in poor connectivity areas also browse Facebook. We are seeing the consumption all across and thanks to Reliance Jio for all the efforts on the infrastructure side.

The most crucial question, what are the plans for monetisation rollout?

We clearly understand the need for providing the tool through which creators can make money. Premium content obviously kicks in a lot of resources, efforts. We need to have the model where the creators should be able to make money out of Facebook. Having said that, we have experimented in the past, and there are more experiments going on. Last year, we rolled out suggested  video, this year some time early in US we rolled out ad rates inside the videos where the creator could actually put an ad and make money out of it including live.

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