Why Facebook Keeps Pushing You To Go ‘Live’ with Video

From billboards to TV ads to endless notifications, Facebook is furiously promoting its live video feature as it tries to get more users to shoot and watch such videos.

But will it be a big business for the social network? The prospects for advertisers are uncertain, and even when users do "go live" -- broadcasting their toddler's first steps to family or showing footage from protests around the world, for instance -- their friends often don't see it until after the fact, just like any other recorded video.

So why all the big fuss?

Fishing for Users in the Live Stream

Some analysts believe it's just another in Facebook's ongoing efforts to keep people attached to its service as long as possible. "It's a usage thing -- keeping them engaged, keeping them on Facebook, giving them an avenue to share," says eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. "As long as Facebook can be successful with that, it can show ads to them."

As is its custom, the company is first pushing the service to as many of its 1.8 billion users as possible. Users get special notifications when their friends go live, and ads prompting them to do the same have been prevalent in the last few weeks.

But making money off live streams isn't easy, starting with the fact that they offer few opportunities to display video ads. But that's OK, Williamson says, arguing that now is the time for marketers to experiment with the feature.

Some are already doing just that -- not by advertising on other live broadcasts, but by streaming themselves. General Motors, for example, was the first automaker to livestream on Facebook, rolling out its Chevy Bolt EV at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.

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