Facebook changes reduced time spent on site by 50 million hours a day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that the changes the company made to its service last year reduced time spent on the site by 50 million hours per day, or 5%.

“Already last quarter, we made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people’s time is well spent. In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day. By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The decrease in time spent could likely cause the company to insert more ads into the NewsFeed to keep ad prices consistent, said Omnicom’s Hearts & Science executive director of digital activation Ben Hovaness speaking to CNBC.

Facebook’s advertising sold through an auction forces, which means price is related to demand. As user time decreases, ad inventory in the NewsFeed will also decrease. Immediately, it will cause ad prices to go up so Facebook will have to balance the issue out by adding more ads. “Facebook will have to increase ad load to keep costs stable,” Hovaness said.

Garrett Goodman, VP of Business Development, at video creation platform Wochit says “With a 5% drop in daily usage at the end of last year, Facebook’s move to prioritise content, especially video, which creates ‘meaningful social interactions’ has already clearly had a pronounced impact.

“This drop in use also mirrors our own analysis regarding engagement for the most popular content on the platform: video. We found average views per video during Q3 shrank by 8% from Q2 and declined another 15% in Q4.”

“Publishers and brands might be scratching their heads wondering what they should do next. However, Facebook has been upfront with what they’d like content to focus on with this news feed change. It should be optimised to create deep and detailed conversations amongst Facebook users. What we’ll likely see now, especially in video content, are more calls to action, asking users what they think, in order to spark such conversations.”