Re­viv­ing the con­sumer-brand-pub­lisher re­la­tion­ship through mo­bile video

The Insider - - TECHNOLOGY -

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.

Best prac­tices

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!”

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