2017: The Year That Changed Everything in Online Video

2017: The Year That Changed Everything in Online Video

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Video is ascendant among media companies, brands, agencies, and creators alike, but the video ecosystem is not stacked equally in favor of all players. The past year in digital video can be distilled down to three intertwined trends that together are changing the industry, and provide different implications for many players.

Platforms are Putting Their Thumbs on the Scale

Video is a very compelling medium. On balance, it can be much more effective than text or audio in creating an emotional connection with audiences across the board. But on Facebook, it’s not a balanced playing field – the platform is putting its thumb on the scale.

As it did earlier with the launch of Instant Articles, Facebook is juicing its algorithm to better serve Facebook Live – the eminent live streaming option for media companies. If your company is struggling with organic reach, getting in this space is a no-brainer. For media companies, doubly so! And just last month, Facebook launched Facebook for Creators – a site dedicated toward bringing livestreamers together – as well as a Creator app that offers a new suite of creative tools for Live broadcasts.

Beyond just Facebook, platforms of all kinds are refining their algorithms to be more attuned to user preferences. You probably heard about the billion dollar purchase of Musical.ly by Chinese media company Bytedance last month. Musical.ly’s 60MM MAU base is certainly not on the same scale as a Facebook or YouTube, but the ways in which Bytedance is planning to infuse AI into the app’s content recommendation engine – and thus make it easier to surface content for niche audiences – should certainly be of interest for companies and creators in the coming year.

And not to mention that Google is preparing to enforce ad standards proposed by the Coalition for Better Ads – blocking offenders by default in its Chrome browser starting next year. Advertisers will need to move away from annoying experiences to ones that align better with user preferences. Pre-roll and mid-roll video may be exempt for now, but there is no guarantee that these would not be considered obtrusive in the future. Another more resilient option, that has the added promise of an “interesting” experience, is sponsored video.

Sponsored Video is Bigger Than Ever – and it’s Here to Stay

If you regularly read Tubular Insights, you’ve heard about this space before. Sponsored video offers authority, credibility, and reach for brands, while ensuring a safer and more reliable business model for the creators and media companies who partner with them. That added reach can be a big factor, especially when trying to target niche, or previously unaffiliated audiences. For those audiences, just getting them acquainted with a brand is a big win.

Sponsored collaborations by the big players in this space, such as Chobani and Tasty (see video below), or Nerf and Dude Perfect, might make a big splash, but this space is still ripe for new entrants.

According to a Tubular Labs report from earlier this year, views of sponsored video content on Facebook jumped 258% since 2016. And this growth shows no signs of abating. This is why Tubular launched Dealmaker last year – to help organizations take advantage of this emerging trend. So as you’re taking stock over the holidays (and taking some well-deserved time off) think about how sponsored video might help your organization make video a winning strategy – satisfying audiences and evading platform algorithms in the process.

Audience Consumption is Driving Strategy

Audiences are skewing toward short, ephemeral experiences… or long, immersive ones. Forgive the public at large for this seeming contradiction. On the one hand, audiences appear to be growing utterly intolerant of interruptions in their media consumption experience. Who has time now for a 30-second commercial? It’s a mobile-first world now, and when users are only bringing up their phone for a few minutes at a time, long interruptions are noticeable, and unwelcome. That’s a big driver behind the 6-second ad: Gone in a flash, but retaining the impact that advertisers demand. On the other hand, we’ve become a society of binge-watchers, and not just of Stranger Things.

In truth, this isn’t a contradiction at all – instead, think of it as the rise of “interesting” video. Video that is attention-grabbing instead of fading into the background. Video that brings an audience into the story instead of simply talking at them. Video, frankly, that provides equal value for the attention your audience dedicates to it.

It could be that we’re seeing this phenomenon because the short and long ends of the video spectrum are delivering more unique value, with content produced and delivered wholly within the medium, while the middle is filled with content that was ported to video simply for the sake of reach. Video is wonderful and compelling, but it is not everything. Taking an article, written for a text medium, and porting it to video is not likely to be as compelling as a story created for video first. Media companies who decide to make that “pivot to video” should understand that when plotting their content strategy for the upcoming year: just because you built it, doesn’t mean that it’s valuable, or interesting, for your audience.

So, what does this kind of video content look like in practice? It could be giving your audience a view of places they would otherwise never see, like GE does with Drone Week. How many people with a dedicated, or latent, interest in STEM would ever see the inside of a GE facility? Or the view from the top of a GW wind power generator? Regardless of what “interesting” looks like for you, know that platforms have a vested interest in getting it in front of their audiences too – a trend we saw much more of in 2017.


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