Video Forecast: Sky's The Limit?
I'm often asked to offer predictions about what the online video landscape will look like several years from now, which I always respectfully decline to do. Our industry is so dynamic, with new players emerging daily, it's relatively impossible to offer meaningful forecasts more than 12-18 months away. However, a smart colleague recently challenged me to use this space to do just that, in light of the increasing ubiquity of video across multiple devices and the resulting fragmentation of audiences. Perhaps the time is now right to look at the progress we've made as an industry over the last six or seven years and put a stake in the ground for 2013. Right or wrong, it will be an interesting exercise two years from now to examine our younger selves' vision of the future.
· At least 50% of online video ads will be built at runtime. Today, an automotive dealer association can book a campaign to run across multiple DMAs with the call to action being different for each market. Of course, this requires creating and encoding a different end-bumper for each DMA. However, companies have already begun to roll out technology that allows marketers to incorporate the user-specific messaging on the fly, without going through the manual process of shooting multiple executions. The potential for this technology is impressive: advertising can quite literally "speak" to the user at a highly personal level, within the bounds of good taste and privacy.
· Measuring campaign effectiveness by click-through rate will (finally!) be replaced by post-campaign studies and real-time analytics. According to BrightRoll's 2011 Video Advertising Report, the content of which was largely obtained by surveying digital agency buyers, 96% of respondents agree that research provides value to clients, but only 35% say they are conducting research of their own. In 2013, we as an industry will once and for all shed the notion that CTR is the right metric, and instead marketers will hold media sellers accountable for true campaign performance, asking questions like, How did online exposure influence brick-and-mortar purchase behavior? What is the true eCPM of a campaign when factoring in earned media (that the paid media was responsible for seeding)? Does this "female-skewing site" really deliver women?
· The device won't matter; a consistent user experience across platforms will. In fact, the "device" will essentially disappear, and all that will stand between users and their content is the presentation layer of the software. It won't make a difference if users are consuming video on their PCs, tablets, phones, televisions, or refrigerators (and we will be consuming video on our smartfridges) -- only two things matter: 1) recording the ad impression and 2) associating the view with the content it ran during for fair attribution purposes. And in what is sure to delight sellers, cross-platform media will all be bought by the same sight, sound and motion agency-buying teams.
It's fun to enjoy a mental margarita and imagine a utopian video future. To be fair to folks who are more "Battlestar Galactica" than "Star Trek," there is, to be sure, plenty to fret about as well -- the potential for a challenging regulatory climate, consumer rejection of disruptive units - but by setting our collective sights on an industry that rewards innovation (as opposed to simply newness for its own sake) and growing real marketer value, we stand a solid chance of making our future selves proud.