I love prediction articles: get them right, and you look like a psychic guru. Miss the mark, and nobody will remember them, anyway. So with nothing much to lose, here are my predictions for what the online video world can expect to see in the upcoming year:
1. The term “This is the year of online video” will be written and stated about 35% more often in 2013 than it was in 2012.
2. Thanks to Obama, the number of online video ads will surge. At the time of this writing, there is still no word on the outcome of negotiations regarding the “fiscal cliff” (perhaps the only phrase uttered more often lately than “this is the year of online video”), but it really doesn’t matter. Whether or not a deal is reached in Washington, Obama’s re-election has assured the corporate world of two things: higher taxes and continued insecurity. This will translate to lower corporate spending across the board, and when that happens, traditionally the marketing budget is the first to get slashed.
So how will this turn into a deluge of pre-roll ads for the online community? Simple: online video advertising is an effective, lower-cost marketing option, so companies with smaller advertising budgets will pull back from TV advertising and instead divert their funds into online avenues. Unfortunately, the smaller budgets might also keep them from producing new spots, so the increased activity we’ll see will likely include a rehash of older, recycled spots produced in 2012 -- but hey, an increase is an increase.
3. YouTube’s 100-new-channels experiment will quietly become online video’s answer to the Pepsi Refresh Project. I’ll never get credit for the prediction, but a couple of years ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine who worked for Pepsi and was one of the original developers of the Refresh Project – Pepsi’s highly touted shift in marketing away from traditional media and onto social media. My friend animatedly explained what the campaign was, how it worked, and how it would engage their consumers. My response was (I’m paraphrasing), “That has to be the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.” In my opinion, it was a complete disconnect with the Pepsi brand. And, ultimately, it failed, and was sheepishly phased out and forgotten.
Similarly, in 2013, we’ll quietly hear less about YouTube’s 100 new channels as a sobering truth becomes evident: nobody cares. After an initial interest by curiosity seekers, the concept of tuning into premium videos on YouTube will be akin to watching “Honey Boo Boo” on PBS, reading a chapter from a Jose Saramago novel in Mad magazine, or going to a seminar to hear Chris Matthews extol the virtues of capitalism. It might pique people’s interest at first, but it’d too awkward to be sustainable.
YouTube’s brand is chiseled in stone as a network of amateur videos, powered by amateur videographers, or at best by decent videographers producing average one-off videos. Charlie Bit My Finger. Some South Korean guy dancing like he’s riding a horse. Leave Britney alone. Cats falling off stuff, squeezing into things, or torturing puppies. YouTube will not be able to buck its own brand.
4. More HTML5 video ads will be available, so viewers can complain about having to wait for free content on mobile devices as well as on their desktop computers.
5. When it comes to video advertising, the RTB (real-time bidding) market will make significant contributions to evolving how media buyers purchase online ads. But it won’t come at the expense of ad networks, who have been clever enough to spot the trend in its early stages, and have had a head start on developing new technologies to take advantage of RTB’s momentum. Watch for some of the largest networks to roll out with RTB products themselves and take control of the market.
6. Branded content production will be on the rise, but not enough to grab headlines or the kind of attention this trend will deserve.
And there you have it – a sneak peak at online video is 2013. See you next year!