Using The History Books as Our Crystal Ball

Surprisingly, the two driving forces that have most shaped media consumption and distribution over the past few decades remain catalysts in media’s ongoing evolution today. While historians will tell us that it is important to understand our history in order not to repeat it, the media world, especially those focused on online video, should study the past in order to peer into the future.

Those forces - “more” and “personalized” - have shaped consumption habits since the days of the newsreel. While these catalysts have cultivated media habits both independently and as a combined force, we can expect them to coexist at a greater level as the media world enters its next stage. By studying how these forces have shaped media consumption to date, it leaves no
doubt that the forecast for future media consumption will focus squarely on online video.

Allow me to explain.

More is a bit obvious. There are more screens, more content and more audience members than ever before. 180 million Americans watch online video each month and this number will continue to increase as connected devices continue to skyrocket. Not even five years ago, people watched an hour of online video each month. Now, they watch almost an hour each day.

As content is created and distributed at a breakneck rate, media consumption is occurring through channels that are becoming more personalized.

Over time, the media distribution has evolved from a single room with very little personalization, to customized media available anytime anywhere. Theatres came first, where mass crowds watched newsreels about the war. Living rooms followed, as families gathered around a TV set for the evening news, sitcoms and sporting events. It then was passed onto the grandchildren
of those moviegoers who had their own TVs or video games within the comfort of their own bedroom. Our media consumption landscape has transitioned from communal to familial to personal in the span of only a generation and a half.

The 21st century saw this progression continue as personal media became more portable. I am writing this now on a laptop tethered to my smartphone. I’ll head back to my office to work from my desktop. Later, I’ll read a book on my tablet while my kids play Minecraft together on their iPods and tablets. Yes, I am an early adopter and a tech junkie, but this is not the leading edge of tech any more. This is now firmly entrenched as mainstream.

So, what will the next decade look like? Content will play catch-up—especially online video content—as it transitions from the user-generated market to the new global producer class. Video distribution strategies will push demand for “player” agnostic technology that allows content to be delivered and measured across multiple personalized channels, simultaneously. That same agnostic delivery and measurement will fuel targeting and drive revenue for publishers by adding efficiency and effectiveness for advertisers. Media versus its cousin, entertainment, is an advertising play and will continue to be, as the hyper-targeting trend expands to a global level.

Advertisers will be able to target across geographies into hyper-focused content at scale with AdSense-easy interfaces.

In short, it is an exciting time to be in the online video business and quite obvious that we are only at the beginning of the beginning.

Sean Womack, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Production, Touchstorm

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