Meta is shrinking Facebook’s New Product Experimentation division as its tries to focus on its rival.
The experimental team was set up in late 2019 and tasked to launch consumer and business-facing experimental apps for various platforms including Android, iOS and the web too. Facebook had given the NPE team the freedom to find the next big feature or product without thinking about generating revenue first.
But it now seems Facebook wants the team to focus on something their top rival has been doing better than them – short-form video.
It’s no denying that TikTok has disrupted the short-form video format and its rivals like Instagram and YouTube have launched their own clone features such as Reels and Shorts respectively to ride on this momentum and they’re failing terribly.
Recent internal data from Facebook showed that 197.8 million hours are spent on TikTok daily by its users compared to 17.6 million hours spent each day on Reels. Also, more than a third of Reels is reuploaded content from other platforms like TikTok.There was a drop of 13.6% in terms of engagement on Reels.
Creators have shared their frustration with Instagram saying TikTok was more fun and had more reach when compared to YouTube and Instagram. Creators also pointed out that it doesn’t make sense to make original videos for Reels when they go more viral on other platforms like TikTok.
However, Meta reported that people spend a fifth of their time on Reels when they engage with them on Instagram and Facebook. They claimed that Instagram users are sharing Reels more with their friends on private messages – it makes more than half of the content shared in DMs.
Meta said that they’ve learnt from building creative tools with the experimental team and are pivoting all projects to focus on the short-form video format.
Meta is not the only company pivoting its experimental team to focus on other things. Area120, Google’s experimental playground is also scaling back its projects from 14 to seven and instead increasing resources to only AI-first projects.