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Is "Made for Digital" the Future of Video?

  |  May 29, 2014   |  Comments

The rise of original digital video is creating an incredible array of marketing opportunities that go beyond traditional campaigns to better resonate with consumers.

Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a study on consumer usage of original digital video content. According to the report, about one in five American adults watch original digital video each month, up 15 percent from last year. In the words of the IAB, the "increasing popularity of Original Digital Video makes a case for greater inclusion of the medium in advertising campaigns."

Original digital video appeals to consumers in a number of ways. Compared with traditional TV, it's viewed as "innovative" and "edgy," the IAB says. Consumers also like the on-demand quality of the medium. They can watch when they want to watch, without having to wait a week for a new episode. While most original digital video is still viewed in the home, the increased role of mobile in consumers' lives boosts its perceived value as well. Mobile usage has nearly doubled in the past year, as has the number of consumers who watch original digital video when traveling.

As one might expect, the way in which original digital video is used differs from TV. The IAB found that, for most respondents, viewing was unplanned. More than 50 percent participated in social media related to the content while they were viewing (compared with 38 percent for primetime TV). Additionally, most viewers watch original digital video alone and in shorter durations than TV. As is the case with many forms of digital media, whether Vines or NBC News' "30 Seconds to Know" or NowThisNews on Instagram, shorter content is a good fit for busy consumers who can't commit to a full-length show or film. And forget the family room; the conversations surrounding this medium happen online.

In short, original digital video is "on track to be as important as TV." 

This presents an interesting conundrum for brands. Previously, they found themselves up against a combination of traditional media and the Web. In the quest to obtain eyeballs, they were competing with other online activities like social media. But even before they could put up their dukes they had to get consumers away from TV.

Now that consumers are eschewing TV for digital content, brands needn't worry as much about having an audience to draw from. Instead, they find themselves up against digital behemoths like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Microsoft. In order to secure a share of the original digital content viewership, marketers must produce videos that offer something these services don't.

Many a brand has found its original content niche. GoPro has become known for its videos of extreme sports and athleticism, along with its active user base of customers. With the help of its consumer-generated "Video of the Day," the brand has collected more than 1.9 million subscribers on YouTube.

Prada's star-studded indie films, which include Roman Polanski's A Therapy and Wes Anderson's CASTELLO CAVALCANTI, have cumulatively generated millions of online views. That the fashion label was able to attract such a high caliber of director and actor speaks to its importance as a brand. In other words, if Prada's good enough for Helena Bonham Carter, it's good enough for the affluent and highly discerning consumer it seeks.


Chipotle gained fame in 2013 for its online film The Scarecrow and again this year for the Hulu TV series Farmed and Dangerous. Historically, it has used video to entertain customers while relaying a message about the brand's philosophy, but more recently the brand extended the original content concept to its packaging. This month Chipotle launched Cultivating Thought, an author series that puts excerpts of essays from prominent thought-leaders and personalities on Chipotle cups and bags. The effort is "meant to entertain customers while exposing them to some of the most creative and influential people of our time." It's supported by a microsite that hosts the stories, coupled with an introductory online video.


For brands, the rise of original digital video is creating an incredible array of marketing opportunities that go beyond traditional campaigns to better resonate with consumers. The future of video - and of branding - lies in original content. And there's plenty of room for everyone to say their piece.


Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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