If “content is king,” then video is the king of content. As if television and movies weren’t enough, almost 200M Americans (roughly 60% of the population) also watch online videos, and the average number of videos watched per person hovers somewhere north of a staggering 300 per month. As demand for video content has been increasing so fast in the last four years, advertisers have been scrambling to keep up. To give you an idea, online video ad spending in 2011 was $2B. In 2012, just a year later, it had grown to just shy of $3B. In 2013, that number grew again, this time reaching $4.1B. By 2016, online ad spending is expected to reach $8B. A study by Cisco predicts that by 2017, video will constitute 69% of all global consumer internet traffic.
At face value, the reason for this growth in ad spending is simple: attention. But what drives attention in the first place? For starters, humans love videos. We prefer it to copy. Why read when you can watch?
Case in point, according to Forrester Research, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. In fact, video seems to be our preferred form of online media. But two other factors are contributing to the explosion of demand for online video: technology and social sharing.
The technology piece is an amalgam of platforms, channels, editing software, publishing applications, devices, data networks and broadband capacity, which, combined, form a perfect distribution and communications funnel between video publishers and video consumers. Over the last decade, this technology piece gave rise to new digital communities and social channels which we now know as the social web. As users of social media channels tend to share information, news and media content with their social and professional networks, the reach of online videos finds itself naturally amplified by social sharing.
The psychosocial mechanisms driving social sharing are a little too complex to outline here, but suffice it to say that human beings are naturally wired to investigate media items (information) that seem interesting, then compelled to share what we learned or observed (especially if it has value) with some of our peers. Yes, the same instinct that once drove us to alert the tribe whenever danger was near now drives us to share online videos.
This filter-funnel effect is amplified by the ease with which content can be shared. At the click of a button, a video can be pushed out to one, a hundred or tens of thousands of people, through any number of social channels, blogs, news articles and even email.
Cat videos aside, the bulk of business-related videos focus on a full menu of functions: product sales, consumer or employee education, product profiles, how-to videos, customer support, PR, storytelling, ads, consumer reviews and testimonials – online video can be adapted to pretty much any use and any industry. For instance, hospital systems now use online video for employee on-boarding and patient education. Also, video is increasingly finding a strong foothold in the B2B world. Even internally, organizations now use a combination of video publishing and social sharing tools to help better reach employees with key messaging, training and pertinent information.
Note that one in six videos is watched from a device like a tablet or phone rather than a computer. That ratio a year ago was one in twelve. At my company Ustream, over 60% of our views are mobile.
Interestingly, mobile and tablet users (shoppers) are 3x as likely to view a video as laptop or desktop users. In other words, as devices evolve, so does our online video consumption (something to bear in mind when considering your audience and the manner in which your videos will likely be accessed).
And now, a few useful numbers that might help cement online video’s strategic value:
Visitors who view videos on retail sites remain on average two minutes longer and are 64% more likely to make a purchase. Source: Comscore
Chances of getting a page one listing on Google increase 53x if the site contains video content. Source: Forrester research
Videos in universal search results have a 41% higher click-through rate than plain-text results. Source: e-Consultancy
Video is a great tool for your business communications
Chances are that your organization’s content strategy already includes video. Great. It is likely, however, that your organization could be using video a lot more, especially across a broad enough range of uses both consumer-facing and internal. Already, organizations with a higher volume of video publishing seem to be outperforming organizations for which video is still an occasional rather than a primary mode of online communication.
Something to think about as we begin to think beyond 2014 and look for ways of becoming more competitive next year.