Flip through a major magazine and you will see pages on pages of text next to still images. Tune your radio station dial to the local news, talk, or music-related programming, and you might try hard to visualize what you're hearing. And even when you move to the internet, what we think of as the “forefront of new media,” most of what you will see is endless static text and images. Aside from the deep troughs of video at YouTube, Hulu, and other mainstream video destination sites, there are few publishers that incorporate video into their properties, leaving us wondering why there is so little audio-visual entertainment available across the media landscape.
Not a day passes without me consuming some form of media and wondering if there is a video to supplement its content, or often better, a video to replace it entirely, and I don’t think I’m alone. While it is sometimes easier and quicker to read or listen to something, there are certain subjects and particular times that I’d rather watch a video. This is especially the case when I’m looking at a screen. Whether it is a smart phone, tablet, connected TV, or game console, there is still significant opportunity to add video to digital marketing. When I’m in a store or restaurant and see a text feed from AP or Reuters on an out-of-home screen, I wonder how they expected to engage and monetize the foot traffic.
Today, the greatest volume of digital video consumption is still concentrated on the two ends of the quality spectrum: premium television shows and movies on one end and long-tail videos with lower quality production on the other (and you can throw user-generated content into that mix). There isn’t much in between. The issue isn’t that the audiences don’t want this content, because they do. Ooyala’s Q2 2012 Global Video Index measured the viewing habits of nearly 200 million unique viewers in 130 countries and found that videos of 6 minutes or longer are popular across all screens. Audiences are watching; the problem lies in the industry not evolving fast enough to keep up with audiences and platforms. Major players are taking notice, however. Google has already made attempts at closing this gap with its investment into 200 premium YouTube channels. And, big media companies in television, print, and even radio are integrating digital video into their publishing business models (Martha Stewart, Dow Jones, Meredith Corporation).
So why is content standing still? I believe there are three general problem areas:
- New Platforms and Old Businesses: There can be tremendous difficultly in adding video content production to a business model, especially if online video is considered uncharted territory. Media companies that produce content and publish it through magazines, newspapers, radio stations, etc., are generally comfortable in their expertise, meaning the newspapers and magazines stick to text and images and radio stations to audio, with the opportunity for video left untouched. Most companies are still in the process of trying to digitize their existing businesses, whether it is publishing their content through digital newsstands and apps or creating digital streams of radio content. Despite the opportunity video brings to publishers' brands, the struggles they are already facing often push video down the priority list.
- High Quality or High Volume —Take your pick: There is a pretense that implies that significant advertising and subscription revenue from digital video originates from television shows and movies and should be reserved for, and concentrated at, the large distribution outlets like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and traditional MSOs. Alternatively, video content made and uploaded by consumers (UGC) isn’t worthy of monetization, but there is such significant volume being generated every day. Companies need to realize that audience behavior is now opening the door to a new level of content that is both engaging and monetizable and can be produced and published at scale.
- Thinking Too Hard: Despite the spiking trends in the video marketplace, companies considering adding video to their business models are often over-analyzing logistics and approaches rather than delving in and experimenting with the basic ideas that can quickly evolve into meaningful business opportunities. Usually it is because they tried it once before and did not turn a profit, killing off any motivation to pursue it again. While it’s important to plan and research, it can become an impediment to taking that first initial step. There isn’t one right strategy. Smaller digital producers and publishers are often successful because they don’t approach it this way, allowing them a chance to profit from a video-centric business. Some big media companies will feel as though they need to make all their own content and do not want to license others. And, producers of video feel as though they should be the sole publishers and they should not syndicate it. If this were true, why is the wildly successful NBC show 30 Rock available on Fox? Do NBC Universal and Fox have it wrong? Probably not. Don’t get mired down in weighing too many options and strategies; test out a couple. If your company isn’t using video, you can bet a competitor will. The stats show that it’s worth the investment.
These problems render companies unaware of how video fits their business or how to implement the opportunity past the initial brainstorming stages. In their favor, however, is the democratization of distribution and consumption of video content, which is being driven by the audience. This creates profound new opportunities for companies of all types – from big media to e-commerce – to develop new revenue streams and audience relationships from a rapidly growing market with massive potential.
As far as monetization, if you ask an advertiser where they are currently concentrating their digital shift in advertising, it will likely involve video. One of eMarketer’s most talked about predictions is that video advertising spend for online advertising will grow to more than 40% in 2012, totaling more than $3 billion dollars. This is because using video content on a webpage creates tons of opportunities for a brand to emotionally connect with their customers and prospects, including showcasing products and services.
Nowadays companies of all types are given new ways to enter the video market with lower costs in video production and equipment, the computing power and tools for higher quality editing, and the available talent on both sides of the camera. These new technologies encourage immediate experimentation and very little risk. However, companies should not rely solely on technology venders that sell software or work-for-hire venders that sell services and leave the scene before the ROI is achieved. This advice applies to content owners, publishers, and advertisers alike. There are numerous partnership opportunities that can aid businesses in their video initiatives, regardless of the company’s media background. For example, Clear Channel is a huge radio network with countless websites and has chosen to use my company OneScreen as a partner in video. Through this partnership they receive video technology, allowing them to put videos on their site, solutions for content management, and support services for all things video. Partnerships like this allow companies with little or no video experience a risk-free way to begin delving into video media.
If the opportunity of adding motion to “still content” is not already clear, it will be very quickly. With the sudden expansion of portable devices, the connected living room, and audiences adapting faster than ever to new technology, every company can and should ride the trends and see screens in an entirely new way – content in sight, sound, and motion.