- CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to 'seed' an ecosystem of original video content
- Facebook now hiring a film producer, while Instagram looking for a creative producer
- Company wants to build video ad inventory to better compete with YouTube, Amazon
Add to the list of tech giants going Hollywood.
Looking to make good on a pledge by CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year to be a "video first" company, Facebook is hiring a growing number of people to create its own video programming.
The positions include one for a film producer at Facebook, which was posted to LinkedIn six days ago. The first duty listed is to "develop, script, produce and edit sharable motion picture content."
Another listing for a "software engineer, film" has a number of duties, including "integrate footage from creative teams into our content rendering engine to produce new personalized videos."
Facebook already puts together personalized videos for its 1.9 billion users, often around anniversaries of notable events in their lives. Now, it looks ready to add professionally-produced content to the user-generated fare it now gets for free.
There's also a listing for a production lead for media partnerships, based in Los Angeles. This person will work with "creators, studios and media companies around the world to produce video programming that is well-suited for new and emerging consumption patterns and mobile and social viewing experiences." Here, Facebook would not be creating the content itself, but would be taking a fairly hands-on role: The first responsibility listed is "Oversee the work of the producers on behalf of Facebook and ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to agreed artistic and technical standards."
Its unclear whether the people who fill these new positions at Facebook will be producing news, entertainment or some other form of video content.
In producing more original content, Facebook joins Amazon and Google's YouTube service in a growing push to either build or buy programs that will attract a larger video audience.
"Last year we started to invest in more original video content to help seed the ecosystem," Zuckerberg told Wall Street analysts in February. "We plan to do more in 2017."
On a conference call following Facebook's Q1 earnings report Wednesday, Facebook CFO David Wehner essentially echoed those comments, saying Facebook was "kickstarting" the production of longer-form content on its sites.
Like its fellow tech giants, Facebook wants to boost video views on its Internet properties to take advantage of an explosion in demand for digital video advertising.
Spending on digital video ads surged 53 percent to $9.1 billion in 2016, according to an April report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Still, that's a small fraction of the more than $70 billion spent on TV advertising last year, an amount expected to be little changed in 2017.
As it makes its push, Facebook's rivals have a significant head start.
Amazon has a stable of at least 10 programs, including "The Man in the High Castle," which was heavily promoted online.
Similarly, YouTube has been working with user-generated video for a decade.
It also has more experience licensing the rights to movies and Hollywood shows -- no small matter in an entertainment industry known for sharp-elbowed negotiating.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said last week that more than 1 billion of hours are viewed on YouTube every day.
Facebook needs to add more advertising inventory to maintain its robust revenue growth.
The company said yesterday that growth in its number of ad impressions slowed significantly from just six months ago.
Still, it reported sales and profit that topped Wall Street expectations.