The Facebook Inc. logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. Macbook Air laptop in an arranged photograph taken in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Johannes Berg/Bloomberg)

Facebook Launches International Video Product to Rival Google

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is launching Watch, its video rival to YouTube, internationally and expanding the financial incentives that encourage people to share their content there.

Video makers in five countries will be eligible to take a percentage of the ad revenue that comes from their content around the world as long as their videos on Watch are popular enough and meet Facebook’s standards, the Menlo Park, California-based company said. The ad incentives will be expanded to other countries in the fall. Meanwhile, Facebook will increase its spending on content deals for the video site, to account for the international audience.

“The amount we’re investing in this obviously is going to scale with the size of the opportunity, and obviously we’re scaling to the entire globe,” Matthew Henick, Facebook’s head of content strategy and planning, said in an interview.

The global expansion presents a risk for Facebook. On the news feed, advertising appears separately from user content. Within the video service, ads can come in the middle of whatever someone is watching. Preventing advertisements from running in front of inflammatory videos has been a challenge for Google’s YouTube, the world’s largest video site and the biggest competitor to Facebook Watch. A series of scandals that enraged advertisers forced YouTube to limit which videos could feature ads and overhaul its premium advertising program, Google Preferred.

Facebook has had trouble policing content in countries where it doesn’t have as much understanding of the language or local culture. Fidji Simo, vice president of product in charge of Watch, said the company has built tools for advertisers that allow them to opt out of running promotions on certain types of material, such as violent content.

“All of these tools will be available in these other languages and that’s actually one of the reasons it will make sense to do it now,” Simo said in an interview. “We wanted to make sure we were offering all of these controls.”

But expansion is also likely to be lucrative. While North America is still the largest market for online advertising sales, the fastest-growing markets are in Asia and Latin America, according to AppNexus. Six of the 10 most popular music videos on YouTube last year were in Spanish.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.