Normally, I might take a look back at 16 of the most read, shared, and talked-about Tubular Insights posts of 2016. But, this wasn’t a normal year. And I’m not even talking about global news, important issues, and sporting events like the US election, the Brexit referendum, climate change, fake news, the Rio Olympics, or the World Series. Yes, all of these were big stories that caught the attention of video marketers as well as the rest of the world. But, I’m talking about unexpected news and developments in the online video and internet marketing industries like the sudden death of Vine, the bewildering birth of Pokémon GO, the unforeseen delays in the adoption of virtual reality, and the unanticipated popularity of live video streaming, the surprising implosion of Yahoo! Screen (née Yahoo! Video), and the startling explosion of Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones. But what about trends and insights about video marketing in 2017?

Hoping to discover the way forward by looking backwards when the market is moving sideways would be like driving a car down a dark and twisting road by looking in the rear-view mirror and hoping we don’t end up in a ditch. So, what do we need when the times, they are a changin’?

Current Trends in Video Marketing

For starters, we need critical data. Then, we need a deeper analysis of the top trends in the digital video marketing business. Fortunately, we got a bit of both last week – just in time for all of us to examine and evaluate before we’re expected to deliver strategic insights and tactical advice in the coming year.

Let’s begin with the unpredicted data dump by YouTube. Ironically, you won’t find the latest YouTube stats on the YouTube Statistics page. Instead, you’ll discover this critical data about who’s tuning into YouTube and when, where, and what they’re watching has just been published on Think with Google.

And what do we know now that we didn’t know before? Well, most of us imagine that the “average YouTube user” is a millennial. Why? Because, in the old days, the average YouTube users were millennials. But, who knew that YouTube watch time among older audiences is growing? From 2015 to 2016, time spent on YouTube more than doubled among adults 18 and older. Let’s consider that the baseline for growth among YouTube viewers. Now, hold on to your hat. From 2015 to 2016, time spent on YouTube almost tripled among adults 55 and older. That right, those viewers are Baby Boomers.

Gen X is also spending more time watching YouTube. From 2015 to 2016, time spent on YouTube grew 40% faster among adults 35 and older than among adults overall. And according to comScore, YouTube reaches 95% of adults 35 and older in a month. But from 2015 to 2016, time spent on YouTube grew 80% faster among adults 55 and older than among adults overall. And according to comScore, YouTube reaches 95% of adults 55 and older in a month. And, I’ll bet that you know a HiPPO (highest paid person in the office) who thinks that the average YouTube user is a young, single male. Why? Because that’s the outdated stereotype of gamers who live in their parents’ basements.

Now, I don’t want you to lose your job, so just blink if you agree. But, then check out reality: More than 50% of YouTube’s audience is female. And YouTube users are more likely to have a college degree compared to the general population. And YouTube users are more likely to have kids than non-users. Where are the MythBusters now that we need them?

I also suspect that you also know someone on your team or at your ad agency who has been advocating for dayparting. You know who I’m talking about. And I’ll bet that he or she assumes that people watch YouTube on their mobile devices during the day and “on the go.” Well, the majority of watch time on YouTube is mobile. In fact, on mobile alone, in an average week, YouTube reaches more adults 18 and older during prime time than any cable network does. So, you-know-who has got that right. But, it also turns out that YouTube viewing behavior on mobile is more like TV than I had assumed: The world watches at home, during prime time, and on horizontally oriented screens. I know, I said something entirely different during a content marketing webinar just last week. But, I hadn’t read this new data yet. Here’s what I know now: A Google/Ipsos Connect survey in July 2016 found:

  • Three in four adults report watching YouTube at home on their mobile devices;
  • Home mobile YouTube viewing occurs primarily during prime time;
  • Seven in 10 people default to horizontal viewing when watching videos on their phones;
  • YouTube users are twice as likely to pay close attention while watching YouTube compared to TV users while watching TV.

In addition, the same Google/Ipsos Connect survey found:

  • Almost four times as many people prefer watching video on YouTube as on social platforms that are less video-centric;
  • The top two reasons viewers watch YouTube are “to relax” and “to feel entertained”;
  • The top four content categories watched by YouTube users are comedy, music, entertainment/pop culture, and “how to”;
  • 68% of YouTube users watched YouTube to help make a purchase decision.

Now, I could dismiss this new data because half of it doesn’t conform to my pre-conceived assumptions. But that would be wrong. And video marketers who want to continue being successful in 2017 need to unlearn about a third what they’ve learned over the last 12 months because things change that fast in the digital video marketing business.

The Latest Platform Changes and New Features

Do you want an idea of just quickly the online video industry changes? Here are just some of the news stories from the past few weeks:

  • Facebook launched Live 360 video, which will be available to more Pages via the Live API in coming months, and will roll out more broadly for all Pages and Profiles in 2017.
  • Snap Inc. announced Groups, a new way to communicate with up to 16 friends on Snapchat. Chats sent to a Group are deleted by default after 24 hours. Snaps sent to a Group can be opened and replayed just once by each recipient.
  • Instagram announced that its community has grown to more than 600 million Instagrammers. That’s up from 500 million six months ago. And they now have more ways to share than ever before with Instagram Stories, live video and disappearing videos in Direct.
  • YouTube launched a new custom URL system that works independently from Google+. Kudos to YouTube for making this positive change for the millions of channels that have custom URLs today, as well as those who will request one in the future.

Multiply these developments by 52 weeks a year, and you can get a sense of why things are moving sideways almost as fast as they’re moving forward. But wait, there’s more!

Video Marketing in 2017

Last week, the folks at [email protected], a global, cross-discipline team of social experts from across all of Ogilvy & Mather’s businesses, published their yearly report, Key Digital Trends for 2017, on SlideShare. And slides 45 to 56 present their strategic insights about “a video first world.” What’s that? Well, it’s a real “thing.”

Back in 2014, Facebook made video a priority (i.e. the social network made News Feed changes and algorithm updates that rewarded video uploaded directly to what has now become a video platform). Then suddenly, out of the blue that summer: a huge charitable event known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge just happened to go viral! Other platforms saw the opportunity and stepped up with their own video offerings. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – if you can download it, you can watch/create/share video on it!

Then, in July 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, says on a quarterly earnings call, “We see a world that is video-first with video at the heart of all our apps and services.” Zuckerberg’s quote is interesting by way of its structure. There are two key parts here “video-first” and ‘”all our apps and services.” Video first means video will get the priority. All our apps and services means all of Facebook’s platforms: Facebook itself, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

As part of its mission to be video-first, Facebook started going after one of the few remaining heartlands that Twitter has left: LIVE content. The best and easiest way to do that was with the social network’s live video streaming product, Facebook Live. The social network is throwing a ton of money at this – both from an innovation perspective as well as a media angle. The folks at [email protected] say a Facebook spokesperson told them that he or she hadn’t seen “a company-wide pivot like this” since the social network decided it wanted to be “mobile first.”  (Note: More than 75% of Facebook’s ad revenue now comes from mobile). In short: Facebook Live is a big bet from Facebook and it’s throwing everything it has at it to make it successful.

The team at [email protected] also say, “Let’s not forget about YouTube. After a year in the wilderness, licking its wounds and working out what the hell happened with Facebook video, YouTube is pushing back. YouTube is now courting brands with its effectiveness and crowing loudly about what does (and does not) constitute a “view.” Perhaps this also explains YouTube’s data dump last week. In any event, the social experts from across all of Ogilvy & Mather’s businesses say that YouTube “is the one to watch – this one is barely getting started.” They also posed a rhetorical question: “Just what kind of video are we talking about?” Landscape? Portrait? Square? Circular? Panoramic? 360? Virtual? Augmented? And they answer their own question by saying, “We are witnessing the collapse of traditional video formats.”

How Video Marketers Need to Prepare

So, how do video marketers prepare for this brave, new video-first world? The social experts say, “The main consumer-facing digital platforms are shifting. For the content-snacking generation, video is now starter, main, and dessert. To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”

The folks at [email protected] also have some tactical advice about preparing for a video first world:

  • Got a television commercial (TVC)? Get/cut/use all of the footage!
  • Shooting a TVC? Get someone there who is shooting with a smartphone!
  • Can’t afford a TVC? Shoot something yourself!
  • Get clever/useful with video apps that can give you the creative edge that you need!
  • Publish to Facebook? Use Square Video!
  • Got a ton of cash? Do something awesome in VR!
  • Got a small amount of cash? Look into 360 video!

This rising tide should lift all boats – at least all the boats in the digital video marketing business that aren’t anchored to the way things have always been done in the past.

Are you concerned that the HiPPO who we talked about earlier will need a second opinion before seizing the opportunities that a video first world offers to your organization? See, I’ve been in those meetings, too. Well, check out the Cisco VNI forecast, which says that nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network every second by 2020. Globally, IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70% in 2015. Global IP video traffic will grow threefold from 2015 to 2020, a CAGR of 26%. And globally, virtual reality traffic will increase 61-fold between 2015 and 2020, a CAGR of 127%. Hope you all had a good chance to think about that over the holidays. Now get ready for the ride of your life in 2017.