Commentary

Online Video Predictions for 2008

Having spent the holiday season reading everyone else's brilliant predictions for 2007, I decided to engage in a little crystal-ball gazing myself. But since 2007's been predicted to death, I figured I'd up the ante. So without further ado, here are my online video predictions for 2008.

1. Video goes vertical. Not unlike the rise of vertically oriented portals, video content will find well-branded homes for vertical video. Today's repositories for all things video will give way to more focused destinations for travel video, music videos, home video gone wild, amazing sports highlights and the like.

2. Professionally produced content online surpasses amateur content. The vast majority of professionally produced video content hasn't been digitized. Once producers get past the first hurdles (rights, encoding, codecs, digital asset management, hosting, streaming, etc.) they'll find the dollars are there to support a surge in professional production companies driving vast amounts of new and historical content online. Reruns will still be on TV at 3 a.m,. but you'll always be able to find --and advertise on--lost episodes of "The Honeymooners."

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3. $12 billion of TV budgets move to online video. According to a recent AAF survey of advertising executives, the majority feel that 10-30% of current spending on traditional broadcast and cable TV ads will shift to online video by 2010. We're definitely on the early side of that curve right now, but 2008 will be the year that big TV budgets with real dollars make the shift in earnest. A big piece of the equation will be the continuing agency shake-up. Before those budgets can really move, interactive and TV buyers will have to work more closely and share more budgets. 2007 will be the year of "sticking our toes in the video water." 2008 is when everyone yells "C'mon in, the water's fine!"

4. TV is a box--one of many. Whether it's their computers, mobile devices, TVs or something else, consumers will be less concerned about which devices and more concerned about their choice of content. With the introduction of Apple's iPhone and AppleTV, more and more people will continue to embrace the concept of "anywhere, anytime" content at the expense of our 72-inch plasma TVs. Content that isn't visually critical, like news and sit-com reruns, will be regularly digested on trains and planes and in places where time is abundant but TVs are not. Trend-setting commuters will, appropriately, kick this trend off, watching Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" on their way to their Wall Street jobs, rather than sacrificing time with family and friends to watch it on a "proper" television.

5. More political advertising online than TV. The 2006 political season was a big bust when it came to online. But by the time the 2008 campaign kicks in, political consultants will have figured out online video. John Edwards announced his bid to run for president on YouTube, clearing the way for other candidates to begin testing the medium. Technologies that have been commonplace among ad networks and media buyers will penetrate the political media on a national level. Geo- and behavioral targeting will enable the national platforms to deliver specific campaign messages to people and regions that are most influenced by those particular issues. Local candidates will be able to buy media on top tier publishers without wasting impressions. Candidates, using video banners, in stream ads and video avatars, will connect with constituents and voters as personally as they would at a town hall. Voters will be the big winners here, establishing an emotive connection with candidates, rather than just knowing if they are pro-life or pro-choice.

6. Video search will make sense. The process of searching for video is still cumbersome, unreliable and very much in its infancy. But the companies with the most money and the most to gain (or lose) are battling to make their video search tools indispensable. Once they get it figured out, it will be the driving force behind a tremendous increase in video consumption online. Due to the increased challenges of indexing video content compared to indexing text-based web pages, content owners and search technology providers will need to work hand-in-hand to develop effective methodologies that enable consumers to find the content they are looking for quickly and easily. Video search will follow a simple mantra: "Ask and ye shall receive."

7. Video blogging will cross the chasm. Video blogging, which lagged behind its text-based cousin in adoption, will experience a surge in popularity as the tools for creating, editing and hosting your own video content become more accessible to the everyday consumer. Video blogs will become less about embedding YouTube links and players into blogs and instead enable people to truly share their "voices" with the masses. The differences between video blogs and video communities will blur, as social networking sites like MySpace will be increasingly dominated by video versions of teen-angst rants and boyfriend bashing, sans the annoying typos and SMS and IM jargon. Video bloggers may actually laugh instead of typing "LOL." Political blogs like the HuffingtonPost and HotSoup.com will also be creating their own video content, with political consultants, commentators and talking heads popping up on blogs as frequently as they do on "Hardball."

8. Video communities. Communities will be redefined, and hopefully, bring the "personal" back into personal computing. So far, being submerged in Second Life, spending hours IMing and posting comments on people's MySpace pages has left us with "virtually" social people lacking real-world social skills. Video communities will emerge as video chatrooms with dozens (or more) people in a chatroom at once, actually talking to the other people, rather than hiding behind emoticons, avatars and buddy icons.

After an explosion of useless video content in 2006, and the development of very useful video tools and widgets in 2007, 2008 will be the year when video becomes the language of the people's Internet.

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