With 2011 in the rearview mirror and a strong holiday shopping season propelling e-commerce to new heights, video commerce is poised to play a much stronger role in 2012 than ever before for brands that sell direct, as well as re-commerce merchants. After all, the average retailer that deployed video in 2010 saw a 61% year-over-year increase in views in November 2011. Through December, the trend is to finish at 72% higher year over year! Trends to watch out for this coming year include:
1. Videos gradually become shorter. With new research proving that sub-30-second videos drive higher conversion rates on average, brands and retailers will work harder to deliver product messages in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Apparel brands are especially well-positioned to deliver these short clips as many product videos of fashion items and accessories don't require any dialogue, on-screen hosts, or specialized product knowledge.
2. Interactive video moves from "nice to have" to "must have." With Facebook supporting interactive video and more consumers embracing social networks than ever before, brands that sell directly will increasingly seek to capitalize on interactive video by enabling consumers to share content that enables shopping within the video player. The upside for brands is the ability to track from the initial video all the way to the purchase, yielding insight into what patterns of viewing and interactivity prompt viewers to become buyers.
3. Video SEO grows up. While 2011 was the "year of the video sitemap" when it came to video SEO, implementation details involved a lot of trial and error for many brands. Proper sitemap formatting, ensuring appropriate keywords are included in sitemap submissions, will be at the top of the list for any brand serious about using video to drive commerce moving forward.
4. Industry research starts to drive production trends. In the earliest days of video commerce, production values and formatting decisions were driven more by gut than by data. While each brand's identity will remain central to decisions in these areas, new data that reveals more about what makes video “work” will cause some brands to re-think their tried-and-true approaches. While longer-format branded content failed to take hold in 2011, this new data may help lower the risk while delivering insight into what production values are truly required to drive viewers to convert.
5. HTML5 takes center stage. In 2011, supporting HTML5 video was a neat feature. In 2012, it is a requirement. With record-breaking sales of iPad 2's and other iOS devices, coupled with Adobe's announcement in November 2011 that it would no longer support development of Flash on mobile platforms following the release of Flash Player 11.1 for Playbook and Android, brands can no longer afford to miss delivering rich, interactive video experiences using Flash alone.
We're also likely to see a few off-the-radar trends driving video adoption among both brands and consumers in this new year. Other wild-card items to watch out for: increased adoption of video in email as another major webmail player enables HTML5 video support (probably Gmail); new techniques and technologies emerging to enable brands or commerce sites to rapidly scale production of real video content; and another major smartphone maker dropping support for Flash video.