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Why Facebook is investing in original and licensed video

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook wants to dip its toes into original and licensed video at a time when brands are increasingly seeking digital video advertising opportunities.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau said advertisers are spending more than $10 million a year in the U.S. on the category, up 85 percent from just two years ago. The advertising community surveyed expressed "robust spend optimism" on increasing the budget for digital video ads, whereas most of the same people expected to maintain TV ad spend levels.

"Earlier this year, we started rolling out the Video tab, a dedicated place for video on Facebook," Facebook head of global creative strategy Ricky Van Veen said in a statement Wednesday. "Our goal is to kickstart an ecosystem of partner content for the tab, so we're exploring funding some seed video content, including original and licensed scripted, unscripted, and sports content, that takes advantage of mobile and the social interaction unique to Facebook. Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world."

The initiative cements Facebook's desire to be a hub for all things video. In the past, it has paid media companies like BuzzFeed and The New York Times to make original video. The Wall Street Journal reported in June that it signed almost 140 contracts with outlets and influencers to create videos for its livestreamed channels.

Wednesday's announcement marks an even larger expansion of those endeavors. It also signals the company is interested in more than just live content, and wants to make itself a video hub.

Facebook did not disclose how much it's investing in original and licensed content. It also did not announce plans on how publishers can monetize these videos, although it is expected it will roll out widespread advertising options soon. It has experimented with allowing branded content as well as short 15-second ad breaks in livestreamed content for select publishers.

Dan Rose, the social network's vice president of partnerships, told Poynter in September it had added data metrics for publishers who posted branded content. He also said the company planned to expand the mid-roll ad format to original video and would allow for different kinds of ad formats for its Facebook Instant Articles.

Disclosure: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is an investor in BuzzFeed.