Where is video going? 5 areas for marketers to focus on

Since last year, digital video ad spend has swollen 42 percent to 7.46 bn, a number that is expected to nearly double by 2019. With all that projected growth, it’s difficult to predict where video will go, though new research has made it easier to digest.

On Wednesday, AOL released its annual State of the Video Industry Report, which surveyed 295 agencies, brands and publishers in the U.S. On the same day, U.K. marketing design search engine Crayon released similar research. Looking at the two together, what are some of the highlights in video’s future?

Here are five areas of focus.

1. Mobile

Recent research from Millward Brown Digital, which analyzed viewing behaviors of 13,500 consumers in 42 countries, found that the average 16- to 45-year-old watches 204 minutes of video each day. About half of that is on TV, one-third on mobile devices and the rest, desktop.

As a result, mobile video spend is seeing the highest increase, compared with desktop and TV. From 2014 to 2015, it’s gone up 75 percent from $1.5 bn to $2.7 bn. AOL’s survey respondents reported spending 8 percent more on mobile video from last year and increasing their mobile budgets 18 percent.

video-spend-comparison

It’s only natural that mobile and video are growing together. Much of marketers’ confusion around video reflects that of mobile: it’s becoming so big so fast that the industry just hasn’t caught up yet.

“We need to walk a little bit before we run,” says Mike Law, managing director of video investment at Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi. “I don’t think we fully understand how consumers are using their mobile devices because the possibilities are endless. We shouldn’t just flip the switch and pour money into it because we don’t truly know how to use it yet.”

To that end, Law recommends starting small and doing a lot of testing.

“Make sure something works and then grow it,” he adds. “Don’t get yourself overinvested in something because then it becomes a bit like credit card debt, where you’re trying to dig yourself out of that hole.”

2. Homepage videos

The homepage may seem like an obvious place for a brand to place a video, but it’s pretty rare, according to Crayon’s State of Video 2015 report.

Looking at the 50,000 websites with the most traffic per Alexa, Crayon found that only 16 percent have video on their homepages. Among the 500 most-visited sites, that number goes down to 14 percent.

Homepage videos can potentially be annoying; Crayon found that about half of the 50,000 top sites use polarizing autoplay and looping features. But if done correctly, Chris Savage, chief executive of Wistia, sees it a hugely beneficial practice.

“The homepage is the most obvious place to showcase your brand and introduce prospects to who you are as a company,” says Savage, adding that it gives brands a chance to “present their human side” to consumers straightaway.

airbnb-homepage-video

As big names like Apple and Airbnb employ this tactic, Savage sees it as something that will continue to grow significantly the coming years. He thinks this is particularly the case because sophisticated video is so much more accessible today than it was in the past.

“The barriers to create amazing videos are shrinking constantly – I can shoot 4K video on my phone,” says Savage. “And this is happening at a time when companies are working hard to connect with consumers in a more human and personal way.”

3. Branded content

Branded video content now accounts for 33 percent of brands’ digital video budgets. Half the brands surveyed plan to increase that number in the next year by an average of 10 percent, as well.

Because content is basically available everywhere at all times, consumer attention is hard to come by and hard to keep. Therefore, it’s crucial for brands to maintain the highest possible quality in their video content.

“Consumers are not going to give brands a free pass and say, ‘Oh, they’re a brand, so they can produce OK content because they just want to sell me stuff,'” says Law.

Some of the brands he names as nailing their video content include Adidas, GM, Macy’s and Red Bull. Case in point, the latter’s Stratos video that’s still lauded after three years.

4. Programmatic

AOL found that 91 percent of buyers purchase digital video programmatically, up from 53 percent in 2012. That focus on programmatic will continue to grow, particularly on the agency side.

But while more agencies (67 percent) than brands (49 percent) plan to invest more heavily in programmatic video buying, that’s not to say brands aren’t equally invested. Of the brands surveyed, 27 percent have brought their programmatic buying in-house and another 41 percent plan to within the year.

“Every marketer is headed toward in-house buying because of the first-party data,” says Kristi Argyilan, senior vice president of marketing at Target. “We have our own exchange and private marketplace and in that marketplace, we have every channel represented.”

programmatic-video-plans

Beyond the first-party data, data ownership gives brands total control. That allows for improved targeting, in addition to being more cost-effective.

However, there are still challenges with programmatic, such as an inability to access premium inventory at scale, lack of personnel and difficulty integrating it into buying systems.

To combat those concerns, those selling the inventory increasingly plan to establish better standards. In addition, half of the publishers surveyed plan to add in-house support teams and/or manual processes for inventory quality control.

5. Moving away from YouTube

Sole proprietorships and enterprise companies were found to be the most likely to stick with free YouTube channels. Companies with 11-1,000 employees tend to be more experimental with their video hosting.

“We are increasingly seeing more companies move away from just using free social video platforms. The trend seems to be in the direction of still using a third-party, though, rather than self-hosting, since the tools and analytics provide significant added value at a relatively low cost,” says Savage.

inhouse-video-hosting

However, more and more companies are turning toward in-house video hosting. Of the top 50,000 websites, 21 percent are using an in-house solution, as opposed to a third-party vendor.

Just as with paid vendors, sole proprietors are the least likely use this method. Its use is highest among companies with 51-500 employees, as well as those employing between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

What to do

More and more marketers are increasingly investing in video as a way to reach consumers. Planning on being one of them? Here are some tips:

  • Look before you leap. Like mobile, video is a relatively young marketing channel. Do a lot of testing to learn it as well as possible before you invest too much money.
  • To increase videos’ potential as ROI generators, try placing them near a conversion points.
  • Remember that you don’t need to be a professional. You can now shoot a high-quality video on your phone so consumers have no patience for something that looks like footage from 7-eleven’s security camera.
  • On the same note, keep quality in mind where content is concerned. Online video is so omnipresent that if yours doesn’t provide some value immediately, people will quickly look elsewhere.
  • Take it in-house – but only if you have the capacity. Programmatic video buying and video-hosting are two things that marketers are increasingly doing on their own, though taking that on without being 100 percent sure of what you’re doing can have disasterous consequences.

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