NEW YORK / LONDON: Changes made by Facebook to its algorithm last week are already having a negative impact on both brands’ and publishers’ video views, according to new research.

An analysis of 33,000 Facebook videos by video creation platform Wochit found that views are declining by as much as 15% compared to the first half of the 2017-18 financial year, according to its Social Performance Index Report. While the findings are not conclusive, they point to the impact of the company’s sweeping changes.

The decline follows the news last week that Facebook would de-prioritise brand and publisher posts in favour of users’ friends and family.

In one of the most significant shifts to its platform since its inception, the changes are intended to boost users’ “meaningful interactions” on the network, in an effort “to make sure that our products are not just fun but good for people”, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with the New York Times.

The changes have the potential to reshape the kind of content and the amount of adspend that Facebook takes and recent coverage has noted brands’ worries around this. Specifically, brands whose first foray into their own media output has been on social platforms, such as football clubs, are anxious about the impact of the changes on their potential for reach.

Facebook’s executives dispute that the impact of the changes will adversely affect publishers, saying the changes revolve around meaningful engagement, which translates to prioritising posts that people comment and share avidly.

“So if you and I had a back and forth conversation on a post from a Page, that would actually count as a meaningful social interaction,” Facebook’s VP of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, told Stratechery. “It’s more about the interactions between people and less about just the consumption of content from friends.”

This will have an impact on video views, however – something that the report does not recognise. “Video by nature is very passive,” Mosseri noted. When people watch videos they tend not to comment, like, or converse with friends, he added.

Last week, the ad community wore a brave face, speaking to AdWeek, as it looked at the medium term gains it hoped the changes would bestow. Other reports suggest the changes are part of a strategy to move into new markets.

Sourced from Wotchit, New York Times, Digiday, Stratechery, AdWeek, Wired; additional content by WARC staff