When video killed the radio star, I suspect few people realized that the radio star would merely be the first in a series of victims. The initial tragedy struck our society’s largest demographic the hardest: Baby Boomers who grew up before the advent of MTV. They bore witness to the tortured, gradual decline of mainstream radio into experiential obsolescence. But video wasn’t satisfied slaying just one industry model. When VHS technology and VCRs hit the market, forever altering the experience of watching television from the constraints of broadcast programming to individual choice, video officially set its sights on the TV and film industries. Consumer camcorders followed, spawning a whole new genre of content: sloppy yet sentimental home video. Then came the dawn of the Digital Age – the internet threatened to upend all consumer media habits to a point where anything was possible, but incredibly slow to evolve (cue jarring dial-up modem screeches). Would internet eventually kill the video star?
Such a scenario hardly proved to be the case. As web design and development advanced at breakneck pace, the internet would soon become the most dynamic and limitless platform for video. In 2005, the launch of YouTube set the stage for the user-generated video content to be published and available to anyone with an internet connection. This new model, combined with the emergence of social media, video-camera enabled smartphones, and low-priced prosumer video recording equipment, suddenly made video inexpensive to produce and incredibly easy to distribute. It raised the bar in amateur video creation and consumption. Networks, cable channels, and film studios rushed to get their premium content in front of web users and find a way to monetize it. Now many people are “cutting the cable” and switching from traditional television providers (networks, cable, and satellite) to streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Instant Video using internet-only devices such as Roku, Apple TV and later-generation gaming consoles. Some nostalgic Gen-Xers and Millennial hipsters join the Boomers’ dismay as they collect increasingly scarce cassette tapes of classic movies as video –now flourishing online– has once again relegated fond memories and products of yesteryear into the archives of cultural history.
Thanks to the internet, audiences are larger and more accessible than ever before. Consider these findings: 78% of people watch videos online every week; 55% of people watch videos online every day.(1) Not only are people watching video this frequently, but 65% of people watch more than 3/4 of a video each time.(2) This level of audience engagement with video is certainly owed to the ubiquity the internet, especially with the proliferation of mobile devices surfing it. 50% of all mobile traffic can be attributed to online video consumption.(3) To say this is an impressive statistic is an understatement, especially when you consider the diminished experience of watching video on a small mobile device such as a smartphone. But people are eating it up.
It doesn’t surprise me at all. People love to watch videos of themselves, of people they know, of things they are interested in, for entertainment and learning. Growing up during the evolution of video, I was fascinated by it and followed it all closely. As a kid, I loved to write and was convinced I’d be an accomplished novelist someday. But I had an equal affinity for creating home videos, and for every short story I would compose, I had a new idea for a video I would create. My father bought a Panasonic VHS camcorder in the late 1980s and I would use it to record crude short films mostly starring myself (casting was a breeze). Some material was scripted, while some was improvised. I loved it and it eventually inspired me to become an independent filmmaker and multimedia professional.
But my fascination was not unique. Video enables all of us to capture a moment, scripted or fake, of time – or at least a slice of it which we can see and hear – and immortalize it, to save it for future viewing. Sure, quality can vary and it can be polished and edited down, but there is still something fantastically raw about it that resonates with us all. It’s a photograph in motion. It’s amazing! We also love to share video we record, too, and see how it affects other people. Online video is the most impactful, sharable media available. Users can easily grab a link or an embed code from a video player on one website and share it with friends and users on another website, blog or social media network. Facebook and Twitter now give top priority to native video uploads in their feeds above other content types. It has unprecedented reach and value for those that are skilled and creative enough to harness it.
With such a hungry and accessible audience, video now has massive potential for revenue generation despite having been around for over 40 years as a publicly available media format. The cost of producing high-quality video has dropped significantly, which is why video can now be leveraged by organizations that traditionally have been unable to support it. B2B media, for example, is still transitioning to the digital content landscape and many B2B websites suffer from a lack of functionality and design. However, new usage statistics strongly suggest that now is the time to take advantage of online video for B2B content marketing. 75% of business executives watch work-related videos on a weekly basis.(4) What’s more, 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues on a weekly basis, with 59% of them agreeing that if both text and video are available on the same web page, they prefer to watch the video (there is a video at the bottom of this post if you’re one of them).(4) Visitors who watch videos spend an extra two minutes or more of dwell time, giving other content additional exposure to the otherwise fleeting duration of stay from most users.(5) Current online video players now offer dynamic array of integrated marketing options, from pre-roll advertising, banner or text mid-roll advertising, external linking and more ways to connecting viewers to additional content. These built-in features often go wherever a video is shared and posted, helping to drive more exposure organically. Marketers are finally beginning to understand video’s measurable potential now: 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.(6)
The value of online video to organizations is no longer just about the accumulating a high view count and statistical impressions, however. It’s about maximizing the ability to elicit a strong response to your brand and connecting the viewer to more of what you offer. It’s about truly resonating with an audience and encouraging them to act on your message. And yes, in marketing and business terms, it means making more money.