Our friends at Unruly have just published a timely report entitled, “9 Social Video Trends of 2014”, and we will take a look at six of them in this post. One is about the World Cup becoming the most shared event of all time, which is a trend that online video marketers can’t cash in on until 2018. Two are about programmatic video opportunities and viewability standards, which appear to be on Unruly’s “wish list” for the coming year. But, six of the social video trends discussed in the report are ones that you can take to the bank in 2015. Let's take a look at them in detail:

#1 The Speed of Social Video Sharing Has Doubled

According to Unruly, the percentage of shares a brand video attracts online in its first three days of launch has almost doubled in 12 months. In 2013, 25 percent of shares occurred in the first three days following a campaign launch. Fast forward to 2014 and that number increased to 42 percent! This year, two-thirds of all brand video shares occurred within the first week of launch.

social video diffusion curve

This change in pace, brought on by the increase in always-on video consumption across mobile devices, affects critical distribution strategy for brands and agencies. The increase in viral velocity that Unruly has seen in 2014 means that it’s more vital than ever to launch hard and fast in this critical launch phase in 2015 or risk losing out on potential online buzz.

#2 Facebook is Shaking up the Video Ecosystem

This was the year when Facebook, the world’s largest social network, challenged YouTube, the world’s largest video platform for share of consumer views and share of advertiser dollars. Although, Compete PRO’s latest report shows that YouTube.com had 166,140,660 unique visitors from the U.S. in October 2014, while Facebook.com had 165, 213,207.

Compete PRO Facebook vs YouTube

Nevertheless, Facebook rolled out sponsored video ads for brands within the newsfeed with a $1 million-a-day price tag. Facebook also made its view counts publicly available – an alternative to the YouTube counter that has long held sway with advertisers and pundits alike. So, online video marketers can expect the horse race to continue in 2015.

#3 Brands are Using Video Marketing to Get Emotional

Our friends at Unruly first told us that a video’s sharing potential is based of emotional response back in July 2012. How we feel about a video is the most critical factor in prompting us to share video content with our social networks. The stronger we feel about an ad, the more likely we are to want become advocates for the brand behind the commercial.

Today, most brands “get it.” From epic love stories to exhilarating World Cup warm-ups, the ads this year had one common thread – strong emotional storytelling – as brands thought hard about their emotional DNA and created ads that made a strong emotional connection with their target audience.

And it appears that many brands were listening last year when Unruly said, “Advertisers should stop trying to be funny if they want their ads to go viral!” Funny was definitely out of fashion this year, with only 2 ads which tried to make us laugh making it into this year’s top 20 most popular global ads, compared with 8 in last year’s Viral Video Chart.

After the jokes and pranks of 2013 – which Unruly has dubbed “the year of the prankvert” – advertisers tried to spread a little bit of happiness and joy in 2014. Exhilaration also took center stage, fuelled by the excitement surrounding the World Cup, while brands such as Budweiser, John Lewis, and Sainsbury’s had us reaching for our tear-soaked handkerchiefs.

My personal favorite was “Sainsbury's OFFICIAL Christmas 2014 Ad.” Made in partnership with The Royal British Legion, it commemorates the extraordinary events of Christmas Day, 1914, when the guns fell silent and two armies met in no-man’s land, sharing gifts – and even playing football together.

I pulled out one of Unruly’s “Will It Share?” scorecards, which was left over from the TrueView Advertising Training Workshop that I taught at the 2014 Reel Video Marketing Summit. I wanted to see if I could identify the psychological responses that Sainsbury’s social video triggered for me. Two were on the intense end of the 10-point scale: “in tears” and “deeply nostalgic”. And one was on the strong end of the scale: “enlightened”.

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#4 Brands are Doing Well by Doing Good

Brands also used their online ads to promote good causes in record numbers this year, with a third of 2014’s top 20 videos promoting social causes. From providing school meals for children alongside the World Food Programme (Activia & Shakira’s “La La La”) to raising awareness for countries in crisis (Save the Children’s “Most Shocking Second a Day”) through promoting safe driving practices (“Eyes on the Road” by Volkswagen), brands and charities used the emotional depth and global reach of social video to raise awareness for social campaigns integral to their brand values.

Whilst not providing an individual video in the top 20, the most talked-about social video campaign for social good this year was undoubtedly the Ice Bucket Challenge, which drenched millions with ice cold water across the globe to raise awareness for the neurodegenerative disease ALS. The campaign gave massive exposure to the disease and across the millions of video uploads from celebrities and members of the public alike, generated a billion views on YouTube and 10 billion views on Facebook. Most importantly, it has helped to raise more than $115 million in donations since July 29.

#5 “Trackvertising” is Off the Charts

Is that an ad or a music video? That question was asked a lot this year, thanks largely to the success of Activia’s successful World Cup collaboration with Colombian pop princess Shakira. The brand’s video “La La La” overtook Volkswagen’s “The Force” to become the most shared ad of all time, with 5.82 million shares and over a quarter of a billion views as of 18 November, 2014.

This trend prompted Unruly to coin the term, “trackvertising.” A “trackvert” is a music video co-released by a brand and an artist, where the collaboration is clearly announced either in the video title, video description or within the video itself. Other examples from 2014 include:

  • Featuring the likes of Elton John, Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder and a slew of other musicians, BBC Music released “God Only Knows” (693,461 shares) to promote its music channel in October.
  • Released during this year’s World Cup, Beats by Dre released “The Game Before The Game” (444,384 shares) featuring athletes from around the globe showing how they use music to prep for a match.
  • Cornetto released a video of teenage romance this June with Turkish star Yalin in its “Aşk Diye” video (345,195 shares).

Music videos are the most shared type of video content on the social web, with an average share rate of 7.1% compared to brand videos at 2.1%, and music triggers deep-seated emotional responses, which are critical to brands as emotional intensity is the most significant variable in driving social activity. So, I expect more brands will collaborate with artists to create “trackverts” in 2015.

#6 “Fempowerment” is Taking Center Stage

Dove may have started the ball rolling back in 2006 with its “Real Beauty” campaign, but in 2014 there was a noticeable shift in the way brands market to women. The fact women control two-thirds of family purchasing decisions, according to Nielsen, undoubtedly helped to push this trend into the spotlight.

Leading the way in 2014 was Always’ “#LikeAGirl” ad, showing what young girls really think it means to act “like a girl”.

Another ad in 2014 that stole people’s hearts was Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want”, featuring American ballet dancer Misty Copeland with her triumphant underdog story. This traditionally tough brand elicited moments of inspiration and female strength that connected with anyone - male or female – who has tried to prove someone wrong.

So whether it was connecting with future mothers (“Dear Future Mom”), sassy little girls explaining equality (“Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism”), or breaking down gender stereotypes (#ShineStrong), femvertising was headline news in 2014. And I expect it will continue to be one of the trends that you can take to the bank in 2015.