Reviving the consumer-brand-publisher relationship through mobile video
In 2016 mobile video traffic accounted for 60% of the total mobile data traffic; and by 2021, it will grow to whopping 78%!
Driven by faster 4G rollouts and upgrades to LTE-advanced that deliver 5G-like services and 1.3 Gbps Wi-Fi connectivity, mobile video (both editorial and advertorial) is expected to reach US$25B globally in 2021. The five largest cellular providers in the US now offer unlimited wireless plans which only adds fuel to the mobile video frenzy.
Irrespective of age, people spend more time watching online video on their phones than any other smartphone activity, with seven out of ten teenagers spending more than three hours a day watching mobile video. And it’s not limited to short-form YouTube clips; 62% of 18- to 24-year-olds also watch TV on their mobile phones.
Video is supplanting almost every other content form on mobile, making one wonder what a newspaper or magazine will look like in five years. Text may soon become as rare as a carrier pigeon.
It’s no wonder so many publishers have jumped on the video- and mobile-first bandwagons.
Do you remember when Michael W. Ferro, Jr., the chairman of tronc, announced last June that the company was producing 200 videos a day and targeting an astounding 2,000/day? That’s over 700,000 videos flooding the web every year from just one publisher! What ever happened to “scarcity drives demand?”
Now, I’m not against automation, but I can’t imagine how platformgenerated video at that scale would result in anything but low quality, commoditized content no one wants to watch. Just thinking about it and how we got in such a mess over digital, I suddenly feel like I’m having a déjà vu moment.
It’s truly a shame that Mr. Ferro and many other publishers are doubling down on auto-generated video in their quest for digital ad dollars on Facebook which, for now, prioritizes video posts in the newsfeed. Do media executives not see that poor quality mobile video ads will just give users more incentive to block them, and that junk editorial videos are a surefire way to disengage any potential subscribers?
The first rule of content – “Quality First!”
With trust in media walking a tenuous tightrope these days and newsroom decimation continuing at an alarming rate, it’s critical that, now more than ever, publishers focus on producing the highest quality content if they want to survive, let alone thrive, the mobile video revolution.
It’s not that quantity isn’t important, but quality comes first. So, what constitutes quality? One word — engagement.
We’re already drowning in digital debris on the internet — much of which was produced by the same publishers that are now churning out vacuous videos. Let’s not make the same mistake as we did when we went from print to digital, where quantity and being “first” trumped fact-based journalism.
Quality audiences are attracted to content that is relevant to them, informative, useful, entertaining, and sharable; so let’s give it to them.
Driven by mobile apps, digital media usage time has exploded since 2013. Mobile now represents almost 2 out of 3 digital media minutes, and mobile apps are approaching 60% of the total time spent.
In February 2016, people watched over 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day — a staggering number that has advertisers drooling, and one-fifth of US media companies planning to invest in live stream video ads over the next six months.
There is no question that Facebook understands video so let’s take some tips from the social giant on what works.
• You only have one chance to make a first good impression so make sure your videos grab the attention of the viewer (NOT through clickbait) quickly because time is money. Up to 47% of the value in a video ad campaign is delivered in the first three seconds; 74% in the first ten. If you can keep people watching your video for three seconds, 65% of them will watch it for at least 10 and 45% of them will stay for 30 seconds.
• Videos should be viewable without sound since people tend to hit the mute button, but they should never be void of audio accompaniment. Always add a soundtrack to the content that enhances the user experience.
• Captivating captions receive 7.32% more views on average than a video without them and increase viewing time by an average of 12%; so overlay text onto your videos to attract and retain the interest of viewers longer.
• Video generates 1,200% more shares than images and text combined and is a great way to extend your reach through social media and search. Video has a 41% higher click-through rate than text and is expected to drive 85% of search traffic by 2019. So be everywhere your audience is and optimize videos so they fit seamlessly on a mobile screen for an engaging native experience.
Short vs Long
We seem to be in a never-ending debate about the optimal length of a newspaper, magazine or website article and the same is true for video. I’ve always wondered why that matters; to me it’s like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” And the answer is, “It depends.”
Because, as you’ve heard me preach before, it’s all about getting the right content to the right person at the right time through the right channels at the right price. But “right” is highly subjective — it’s in the eye of the beholder.
The right content for some people is listicles and memes. Others prefer hard-hitting, breaking news snippets where they can get just the facts. Personally, I actually enjoy more in-depth analysis often associated with long-form articles. And then there are those who like all of the above, depending on the topic, place and time. But, again, it’s all about each and every individual.
I decided to test my theory with video.
In 2016, video platform company, Wistia analyzed over 560,000 videos with more than 1.3 billion plays to put the debate to bed. It probably comes as no surprise, given our goldfish-like attention spans, that user engagement drops off significantly after two minutes.
But what made me do a doubletake is that after seven minutes, engagement stabilizes for up to 12 minutes. And the descent after that isn’t all that dramatic.
So both short and long video can engage depending on who’s watching, where, when, how and why. But before taking the easy road to short and sweet, consider this. According to a 2016 study, ads that appear on long-form videos achieve a 95% completion rate; whereas mid- and short-form videos only saw rates of 80% and 71%.
It’s no wonder Facebook tweaked its newsfeed algorithm, yet again, to give longer videos with higher completion rates more prominence, at the expense of the over-supplied, short-form videos preferred by too many.
Show me the money!
Although Netflix has ~100 million paying subscribers, for its video content, don’t jump to the conclusion that publishing videos in your apps and online will change the behavior of people who refuse to pay for digital news today. It’s not that simple.
The bad news is that you will still need to find other ways to monetize your content, but the good news is that with quality video, there’s a much better chance of success due to its engaging nature. And let’s not forget the size of the mobile video advertising marketing which is poised to “eat the world!”