In 2016, Video Got Really Personal

I stopped at The Beer Man in Binghamton, NY a couple weeks ago. It has been there for 40 years, and today, unlike then, it has a huge selection of micro and foreign brews. I told a guy who worked there the owner must have been stunned by the growth in that market.  He gave me an eye roll that said, “You wouldn’t believe it.”

That reminds me of Video Blocks, the stock video online site. It’s growing with a brand new clientele of video users that include all of us. And in its short time in business, it’s watched the market morph.

Its wide client base includes a lot of ordinary joes, college students, small businesses and small ad agencies, plus big networks and small and big TV stations too. It offers an all-you-can-eat membership letting those users take as much as they want rather than acquire royalty free  user rights to one piece of video at a time.

It’s thrifty and they’re plentiful.



And its members and users are active. A running scoreboard on its Website says there have been 35,763 downloads today alone.

It turns out that’s given them a pretty good indication of what’s popular in a broad cross section of the video world.

You wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by it all, but its data give an interesting snapshot of where the online video world is heading. Because what’s happening, in CEO T.J. Leonard’s view, is “hyper-realistic video. The first-person perspective is being valued.”

That’s what 2016’s search behavior is telling him about 2017.

For example, searches for drone videos increased 721% in 2016, Leonard says. The subject matter is exactly what you’d expect: Landscapes, cityscapes, deserts, waterfalls. But unlike other video types, those videos suppose a first-person (or maybe first-bird’s eye) view.

You could probably guess there’s an increased interest in VR and 360 videos. But the fact that searches for that kind of video increased 814% in a year begins to convince you Google’s Daydream VR headset isn’t such a daydream at all.

Individual users want it and so do producers and as Leonard notes, lots of Video Block users are plugging video snippets into their existing video projects, films and TV shows.  Next time, or the first time, you see a VR/360 video featuring Los Angeles or Times Square, it’s entirely possible you’re watching a clip from the Video Blocks library. It shows up a lot in its VR searches.  

There’s nothing that’s impersonal about VR. Indeed, top VR shooters refer to the empathetic view it presents. You are the camera.

Video Blocks’ biggest search star search appears to be GoPro videos, “the poster child of the first person trend” in Leonard’s view. Searches for GoPro clips rose an astonishing 1,253% in 2016. Leonard thinks that meshes perfectly with the trend toward drone and VR video.

All of that makes sense in a video atmosphere that includes selfies--use of that word increased 270% in the past year in its searches

And what’s out? Leonard observes that videos that hew to the “Apple aesthetic”--those highly-produced, “pixel perfect” videos exemplified by Apple’s old white-on-white clinically clean commercials, are losing favor.

“That’s not what life looks like,” Leonard says, and that video view is shaped, he thinks, by the the emergence of YouTube, and videos there that have endear users to YouTube stars whose style is a little messy, not at all slick and most of all personal. The big advertising and marketing buzzword is authenticity. Video Blocks search stats suggest its users are looking for it, too.

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