By Kevin Schaff
With a new year upon us, many professionals in the digital media, marketing and advertising spaces are looking to see what's ahead for video. The answer is "contextual media." Looking back, the dynamic nature of digital publishing has enabled flexible and contextual delivery of messages and content in a way previously not possible when we were locked into the one-time printing of an ad on a page, or the scheduled broadcast of a television program. Advertising was revolutionized by Google AdWords, allowing marketers to serve messaging in a micro-segmented and automated fashion. On the content side, text such as links and articles have also been served in a dynamic and customized manner, providing related links and topic pages to match consumer interests and creating new ad inventory. Now, video is exploding as a content type and contextualization will come into play here as well, bringing the engaging quality of the medium together with scale and relevance. Richer metadata, deeper digital archives, and flexible delivery tools will enable delivery of relevant video content around categories such as sports, news, and entertainment in new engaging ways.
The 'Nuts & Bolts' of Contextual media
The Web has made everyone from newspapers to cable providers into online publishers, which increasingly includes video. Contextual media tools enable them to serve video around stories and topic areas to deepen users' experiences and increase dwell times, heading towards a future where "instant documentaries" are possible.
Next-generation contextual media providers use advanced technology to organize video through metadata and enable API "hooks" for searching and serving it while minimizing manual post production work. Along with dynamic delivery, this enables online publishers and media companies to produce new video packages at scale to drive user engagement and ad revenue. Organizing and delivering motion content through metadata production also allows people to jump in and out of a video to the moments they want to see, creating a more engaged experience that fits the way people interact with content on the Web.
What's the Value?
In today's Internet driven world the average news story breaks in minutes, sometimes even seconds. Contextual media tools enable online publishers to quickly put context around breaking news through archives of curated relevant content. For example, say the most horrific category five hurricane in US history hits southern Florida. A site like MSNBC could rapidly assemble archival footage of every category five hurricane to have ever hit the region and within hours produce an engaging online video analysis with the speed and efficiency required to make online content monetization economics work. Simply put, contextual video enables online publishers to put a documentary right next to the breaking news event. Adding this type of contextual video around news can tremendously increase site traffic, visitor dwell time, and extend the depth and lifecycle of a story.
Contextually relevant motion content is a new market that fits in between costly premium content built through post production editing and low-quality user generated or mass-produced video. Many publishers, such as USAToday and New York Times, have already started to see the ROI in adding more contextually relevant video to their sites and I foresee this trend to continue in the years ahead.
The engaging nature of video combined with relevant and contextual content can drive usage metrics that support higher CPMs and sell-through rates. Given today's tough ad market, these new ways to create value are certainly appreciated by digital media, marketing and advertising executives.