June 19, 2018 / 5:34 PM / 3 months ago

Facebook expands offerings for video creators to cash in on views

SAN FRANCISCO, June 19 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc launched a matchmaking system Tuesday to cultivate partnerships between advertisers and video creators as the world's largest social media company tries to quickly parallel the variety of commercial opportunities offered by its video rival YouTube.

Some advertisers have tested the Brand Collabs Manager, which identifies video makers that may be good fits for product placement or endorsement deals.

Facebook also said it was allowing more content creators to run ad breaks in longer videos, and offer subscriptions for $4.99 a month to fans. Subscribers receive perks, such as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.

Facebook is not keeping a cut of partnerships or subscriptions during testing, and it is uncertain about eventual fees, company Vice President Fidji Simo told Reuters in an interview last week.

The company has long been wary of polluting newer experiences, such as video, with ads and paid options. But it has deployed the moneymaking features in recent months after a year in which many videomakers saw their YouTube earnings clipped.

YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc's Google, tightened revenue-sharing policies last year after advertisers including Procter & Gamble Co expressed concern about automated ad-buying tools that had turned them into sponsors of unflattering content.

Both Facebook and YouTube are racing to attract high-quality content, which would help them win over the $200 billion spent annually on TV advertising globally.

Facebook's appeal to video makers has been limited by the few opportunities they have had to turn viewership on the service into revenue. For instance, YouTube added a partnership match tool in 2016 via acquisition.

YouTube plans to update its commercialization options later this week as 30,000 members of the online video industry, including fans, gather for the VidCon festival in Anaheim, California beginning Wednesday.

Simo acknowledged that video makers want even more alternatives. Facebook already is testing how to promote new videos as "live events" that could become big destinations for advertising, she said.

Many creators have asked for a tool to sell merchandise they develop to fans, Simo said. For now, Simo said the company plans to do a "small test" this year of selling third-party products featured in videos.

Separately, Facebook unveiled on Tuesday polling and quizzing features for anyone to produce game shows. The tools follow the success of startup Intermedia Labs Inc, whose HQ trivia app regularly attracts 1 million contestants to daily shows. (Reporting by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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