If you take a good, hard look at the online video industry, it’s pretty clear that the sector is maturing. The signs that online video has grown beyond the infant and toddler stages are everywhere: brands are getting much smarter about their online video strategies; the technology to support it is getting much more sophisticated and exciting; and measurement is becoming more defined and pervasive.
For brands aiming to capitalize on online video -- and every brand worth its salt is now incorporating an online video strategy -- it’s important to have a sense of how the industry will evolve in the coming months to avoid getting hamstrung by the inevitable growing pains that come with an industry’s maturation.
Here’s our take on the trends taking shape, along with some recommendations for how to navigate them.
First and foremost, marketers can expect consolidation, big infusions of venture capital and significant rebranding among online video companies as the segment continues to explode. To wit, in the last two weeks alone we saw: online video content creator Alloy acquiring production-management company Generate; News Corp’s Shine unit buying web video producer ChannelFlip; MDC Partners acquiring branded entertainment company RJ Palmer; video ad company Unruly adding $25 million to its coffers; and TidalTV rebranding as Videology.
All these companies are taking steps to better position themselves to get their clients in front of the 195.5 million people that eMarketer says will be watching video online by 2015. Marketers need to beware the loss of focus that can sometimes occur in the wake of consolidation and make sure their online video partners have proven capacity and scale to craft the strategies that earn the eyeballs. And here’s fair warning: if those strategies have entertainment or advertising at their core, which is what most of the aforementioned companies specialize in, they’re probably not going to deliver the engagement or the reach you’re looking for.
Technology advancement is another trend, and everyone’s excited about rich media and other bells and whistles that can be incorporated into online video. The focus on technology enhancements will not only help marketers achieve the scale they need, but also, the measurement capabilities to prove ROI.
“Branded entertainment” is all the rage these days. According to an eMarketer report, 39% of companies anticipate branded-entertainment spending to rise in the coming year. But consumers aren’t searching for entertainment -- they’re searching for information. Online videos that provide information about the topics consumers are online and actively searching for will always earn better engagement and more views, enjoying a longer lifespan than videos that focus solely on entertainment.
There’s no doubt that the year ahead is going to be a big one for online video. Most marketers are still struggling to identify the online video strategies that deliver reach and engagement, and shifts in the industry landscape may only cause additional stumbling. And in this economic environment, no one can afford to make marketing investments that don’t pay off. It’s fine to get caught up in the online video excitement, but be careful about falling for the hype instead of those strategies that have stood the test of time.