As we count down to the end of what's been an incredible 2010 in the world of online video and advertising in general, I think it's the perfect time to take a look at what trends we'll see emerge and grow in the coming year. Here's what I think we'll be talking about when looking back on what made 2011 more successful than we could have possibly imagined:
1. Branded entertainment will see even more explosive growth. It's no secret - it's becoming increasingly difficult to reach the consumer via a 30-second advertisement. Even YouTube is now giving the consumer the option to skip a commercial in certain cases. As consumers are given these options, advertisers are going to have to become more nimble in their approach to advertising their products. That's why in 2011, branded entertainment will see even more explosive growth. Advertisers will realize that seamlessly integrating their message into online video in a way that adds value to the content will become the ideal way to generate brand awareness amongst consumers.
2. Low-end Web advertising will die. Somewhere along the way, advertisers forgot that integrating quality content into every online ad will likely drive significantly higher return metrics and deepen engagement. In 2011, look for more Web publishers to follow the lead of cutting-edge publishers like Gawker to provide advertisers with larger avenues to deliver relevant ads.
3. More celebrities will find their way to the Web. Celebrities looking for more freedom than afforded by the traditional broadcast television model will turn to online video to make their dream projects happen. Keep an eye out for some major A-list celebrities to make the move in 2011, perhaps finally bringing about the "I Love Lucy" moment we discussed last month.
4. "Smart reach" will make its way into every forward-thinking agency's RFPs. Agencies will finally realize in 2011 that it's not all about demographics anymore -- it's about "smart reach." Getting to consumers with engaging, relevant content at the right time and in the right places will be a priority for agencies looking to get the most out of their ad spend.
5. "Snackable" video content will find even more competition from quality long-form content. Snackable, use- generated videos are not dead by any means, but they're going to find significant competition from well-made, long-form original online Web content. We learned this year that when excellent content is broadcast over the Web, viewers will watch. For example, DBG-produced ControlTV enjoyed record engagement numbers, with viewers sticking around for over 25 minutes at a time. Expect these numbers to rise in 2011 as more entertaining and engaging long-form content finds its way to the Web.
6. The average TV viewer will increasingly become screen-agnostic. TV viewers won't care where they get their video fix in 2011. The introduction of Hulu PLUS and the increasing popularity of streaming services such as Netflix will give rise to a TV viewer more concerned about what they're watching as opposed to what they're watching it on.
7. Expect mobile video to grow. As mobile networks continue to improve their networks and video networks expand to include mobile, the amount of high quality video content that can be transmitted to mobile phones will increase exponentially. As this happens, look for marketers to target mobile users specifically with exclusive content.