What should you watch out for next in video?
5G, social live video, bumper ads, vertical formats... we ask the industry what marketers should keep their eyes on in the fast-changing world of video.
From left to ring: Abigail Howson, Jo Lumb and Will Ingham.
Susie Hogarth, head of futures, Flamingo
If video and content producers want to create media for tomorrow, they need to understand the world today. The questions they need to ask themselves are, ‘what cultural, emotional and social needs are being met by these platforms?’ And, ‘what will a generation who’ve grown up on social livestreaming want from their from video media tomorrow?’
The era of social live video is just getting started. If you look at Facebook Live, Instagram Live, streaming sites like Twitch and apps like HQ Trivia, what they have in common is that they all offer a space for people to hang out and interact while watching the same thing. It’s a simple idea, but that space – with the flutter of conversation and hearts and gifs beneath a live video – is hugely fertile, socially, creatively and in terms of engagement. And, as yet, it’s relatively underdeveloped.
HQ Trivia, for example, took the basic concept of social live video and overlaid really familiar TV elements – a studio presenter, quiz questions, cash prizes – with demonstrative impact. It’s created appointment viewing with a built-in universe of in-jokes and chatter for over a million simultaneous viewers, effectively out of nowhere. It makes you wonder what other TV genres can be developed into live social experiences. Will we see social apps popping up dedicated to live streaming cooking shows each evening? Or interviews with Love Island contestants as they leave the villa? Facebook is certainly seeing the demand and already banking on social video with the launch of original game shows on Facebook Live.
And it’s impossible to look at social live video without taking into account the behemoth that is game streaming site Twitch. More people watch Twitch than Netflix, and when Drake dropped in to a Fortnite game and broke viewing records it felt like a real cultural moment, signaling game streaming’s arrival in pop culture (or vice-versa).
Joanna Lambert, general manager of finance and tech, Oath
While consumers increasingly want on-demand video, brands and advertisers should also be deeply exploring the power of live programming. From major cultural moments to live-streaming on social media, viewers will continue to be captivated by the power of being part of an event – and part of the community – as it unfolds.
I’ve witnessed this increased demand for live video firsthand on Yahoo Finance. Views of our live programming have skyrocketed in recent years – a 362% increase from 2016 to 2017. The same trend holds true for live video on social media. Users watch Facebook Live videos for three times as long as they watch pre-recorded content, and platforms like Snapchat and Instagram continue to grow in popularity. At the same time, views of live content on mobile are continuing to climb as consumers decide where and how they want to watch.
As viewers are inundated with more content options than ever before, live video cuts through the noise and provides a way to engage audiences and hold their attention. It’s a trend that won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
A second trend that will shape video is the imminent roll-out of 5G networks. Once consumers have access to this technology they’ll be able to seamlessly stream data-heavy applications, from gaming and videos to VR and AR. And since 5G will also improve network latency, it will unlock a new level of immersive video offerings for brands and advertisers. The opportunities that this technology holds for content creators is truly limitless, and we’ll see this take shape over the next few years.
As we look ahead, it’s not hard to imagine a world where 5G networks give rise to even more live video and immersive storytelling – and that’s something I’m both excited to watch and be a part of!
Chris Childs, UK managing director, TabMo
There are several current trends in TV and video that are likely to shape the future of the sector. Key is the increase in the amount of television being viewed via an internet connection. This is giving rise to more addressable TV whereby advertisers can harness technologies that enable them to segment audiences based on their demographic, behavior etc – which is radically different from how TV audiences have been targeted to date. Online is also driving more programmatic TV, starting with television companies automating the selling of their video on demand inventory – in 2017, ITV’s ITV Player selected SpotX as its video ad serving, indicating the direction of the market.
At the same time, the much-anticipated launch of 5G, expected to hit the market in 2019, will see more and more video viewed on mobiles and tablets, with a lot of this being longer length content. This will be reinforced by the ongoing evolution of mobile devices – phones with built-in projectors are already available, for example.
With so many ways to access TV, such as Sky, Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon and Now TV, content remains king – as Netflix has already proven. The winner will be the player with the most sought-after exclusive material.
Charlotte Morton, head of B2B marketing, YouTube
The true size and scale of video was illustrated at the beginning of the year as statistics revealed that YouTube viewers consume 1bn hours of video each day. This surging growth is doubtless fueled by mobile’s ever-expanding influence, with research showing that Gen Z are spending longer online on mobile than on all other devices combined. Ofcom data shows that in 2017, 16 to 34 year-olds watched an average of 2 hours, 37 minutes of non-broadcast content a day across all devices (including 59 mins of YouTube on PCs/phones/tablets) compared with 2 hrs, 11 mins of broadcast content.
By 2020 the average person will be spending 84 minutes a day watching videos online. Ofcom found that YouTube views average almost half an hour a day across the population. And people’s tastes are broad, with YouTube viewers consuming many different categories of video – music, short clips, long-form documentaries, how to videos, vlogs and more – all in one place.
To engage with a generation that are mobile first and on the move, brands should adapt how they engage with these audiences through video – I expect we’ll see a lot more serious focus on new formats, contextuality and creativity. The introduction of six-second bumper ads on YouTube has shown how this can be done successfully, with a study on bumper ads finding nine out of 10 drove recall and 61% lifted brand awareness.
The future of TV and video is inseparably linked to the future of advertising as an industry.
Jo Lumb, lead producer, We Are Social Studios
There has been a significant change in the way we consume content in recent years. Millennials now view more online video than any other audience, and yet almost 50% no longer use traditional TV platforms.
With the rapid rise of streaming devices now dominating the TV landscape, advertisers and commissioners alike have had to adapt the types of content they create to cater to this shift. The consumer has become the ultimate decision maker and brands and channels need to be proactive, not reactive, to this changing landscape.
What has become apparent to me, and initially to my surprise, is that the hero piece of content is no longer the ‘hero’. Delivering a successful campaign is not about producing a single piece of content, but the entire universe around it – the 16:9 and its various 1:1 and 9:16 cutdowns, Instagram stories, swipe-ups, gifs. The list goes on. I have learned, and continue to learn, that each individual piece of content is as important to the success of the campaign as that hero spot.
Not only is it essential to understand the social channel each piece of content lives, you need to understand who that channel belongs to. How a brand speaks to its consumers is different to how an influencer speaks to their followers – yet who has a more powerful voice in today’s social world? Each deliverable needs to be fit for purpose and provide the right message to its unique audience. By producing a universe of assets we add a level of richness to the narrative, create hype and drive people towards the core content.
For everything that digital has learned from TV about how to produce meaningful, story-driven content, I feel that the TV world now needs to listen up, learn and respond to how to do things socially. At a time where there is so much noise across so many channels, we don’t just need to create amazing films – we need to amplify them. And this is a trend that will only continue to dominate.
Barney Farmer, UK commercial director, Nielsen
Today’s consumers have more choice than ever about what, where and how to consume media. This excess of options is shaping behavior as the ability to choose the source, device and location gets more personalized. Nielsen’s Total Audience Report shows, on average, US adults spend over 11 hours a day engaged with media – a figure that’s growing every year. In the UK we spend around nine hours a day consuming media and this too will increase as we find more ways to personalize our TV and video viewing experience.
Owing to natural selection, some technologies will no doubt fall out of fashion. In the US, DVD and Blu-ray players are declining in penetration and even the use of DVRs – which only a few years ago was rapidly expanding – has slowed. Newer media, such as internet connected devices and smart TVs, are showing strong year-over-year increases however.
Lifestage also influences consumption habits. For example, older adults currently use fewer devices but are still adopting new habits, influenced by their children and grandchildren who have grown up with this tech. While there has been continued growth in both penetration and usage of TV-connected devices across demographics, the big question is whether these behaviors will carry forward as people age. The answer is predicated on how people customize their behaviors in the future as technology evolves to make a growing amount of content available seamlessly available to users.
Nick Ford-Young, head of studio, Studio Black Tomato
There are a few trends that currently stand out from the crowd. Firstly, interactivity. In terms of functionality, it brings the consumer deep into the experience of a video and the story itself – from choosing their own ending to experiencing extra layers of information and character insight – to even shopping for a product by selecting on the screen.
Brand-commissioned extensions of series, meanwhile, is the natural progression for the Netflix age in terms of format. Content is being more easily and readily made, and having realized they need to make cultural connections with consumers, brands now aim to become storytellers.
Finally, the capacity to offer personalized video content to consumers based on data has now arrived. Imagine out-of-home (OOH) programmatic video ads which use facial recognition to identify you as a target to buy a new pair of Nikes as you ascend an escalator, or after accessing the heart rate monitor on your smart watch, suggest Rescue Remedy when you’re having a tough day. OOH providers are now able to analyze audiences in real time with facial recognition, serving personalized messages and content. Through machine learning, systems are not only able to target and identify gender and age but determine mood, delivering appropriate ads while altering music, characters and copy based on live personal data.
As an audience we want to be entertained, and it is brands that need to entertain us. The mediums in which this will happen will continue to blur and technology will continue to alter content in real-time. Its ability has barely been tapped.
Will Ingham, creative director & founder, Wing
The emergence of social platforms and smartphones has undoubtedly transformed the way we consume video content, which has caused a shift to vertical. Studies have shown 75% of millennials have watched a vertical film on their mobiles, with vertical videos having a 90% higher completion rate compared to horizontal videos.
Horizontal purists may still advocate for the anamorphic cinemascope or 70mm iMax, but it’s an unavoidable fact that we’re all looking at our phones much more often than any other screen. For consumers, a cinema experience is at most weekly, a television experience is daily, but a phone experience is, erm, minutely ... and for content makers, it’s a no-brainer where you must go to get in front of customers.
User-generated content goes hand-in-hand with vertical film and is at the height of its powers. Branded content, TV ads and film trailers have been adapted for social at 9:16 or even 1:1. It’s important to encourage even more outlets and brands to embrace vertical as the future of video content. But the secret ingredient of vertical is intimacy. Filming on our phones is, by its very nature, intimate.
Widescreen and horizontal aren’t going anywhere, but neither is vertical and if we are to be heard and seen in the content world we absolutely must embrace both formats with equal respect. For some content makers in the ever-evolving advertising landscape, the idea of shooting vertical film may be uncomfortable – but we must re-calibrate ourselves to think of it as an art form rather than a compromise. Fully fledged change within the worlds of TV and film might be a long shot (despite recent attempts by some to change actual cinema screens), but, in the world of content, vertical has most definitely arrived.
Charlie Mawer, executive creative director, Red Bee
5G. It’s coming. And apparently sooner than you thought – which, of course, depends entirely on when you thought it was coming. In terms of hard dates, our parent company Ericsson will be launching Singapore’s first 5G pilot network in partnership with Singtel in Q4 this year. So soon by any measure.
And when it does become a reality for us, we have a lot to look forward to, such as the ability to communicate in crowded or remote areas with ‘lightning fast broadband’ – which roughly equates to 100x faster than your current mobile connection.
5G-delivered TV broadcasts are predicted to reshape the TV landscape. The mobility enabled by 5G, for example, will allow TV content to beam directly to mobile devices without the need for a fixed internet connection. This will have a big impact on the uptake of VR and 360 content that depends on 5G’s combination of speed, low latency and mobility.
Abigail Howson, global head of video, Jellyfish
Production spend for digital assets tends to be lower than for TV ads. But I expect to see these budgets increase to bring the quality of online video content up.
The initial surge of accessibility, allowing everyone to easily create and serve video content online, flooded the market with a lot of poor quality ads. As the industry matures, expectations of quality and innovation will continue to rise, with not only production value and budgets increasing but increased desire for programmatic and bespoke content.
The traditional 80/20 split between media and production spend is becoming more even, with 55/45 not uncommon. The important blend of data and creative is being recognized, and companies that deliver seamless data-driven creative will be the winners in this landscape.
In addition, and again in response to the increased maturity and understanding of video, we will continue to see companies streamline their production and distribution processes and view them holistically. TV and video advertising is going through a transformation and we are seeing strategic acquisitions across the board as companies look to strengthen their video and content capabilities.
Companies are buying ‘the pipes’ to both be able to create and deliver non-typical broadcast TV and video content. Comcast acquired FreeWheel, the video ad-serving platform, and Amobee (owned by Singtel) bought up the recently bankrupt Videology’s assets. AT&T’s acquisition of AppNexus along with its merger with Time Warner is interesting. It could potentially give AT&T the ability to create, distribute and sell content, and see off its largest competitor Verizon which attempted a similar move with its acquisition of AOL/Yahoo to create Oath.
Find out more about the future of video in The Drum's Video issue, which explores ethical influencer marketing, livestreaming empires and Maisie Williams' insurgent app Daisie.