Marketing gurus and internet celebrities have prophesized the year of video since 2006, and reality has finally caught up.
If you don’t believe me, just look around. Vertical video—shot expressly to translate well to a mobile screen—now has its own film festival. Eighty-two percent of Twitter users watch video content on the platform. More than 5 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day.
Video is officially exploding, and the world around it has raced to keep up. Look online today and you’ll see Facebook feeds with endless streams of videos. In business, you’ll find that creative agencies have added services solely dedicated to the creation of gifs. Last year, we saw legacy media fire reporters and hire video editors en masse. Regardless of the challenges and miscommunications along the way, there’s no doubt that the new video boom has fundamentally changed the media and marketing landscape.
And video is here to stay. In fact, it hasn’t yet reached its saturation point. The average global viewer watches 67 minutes of video content a day, up 11 minutes from the previous year. Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlighted short-form videos as a key driver of internet usage growth in China. The population consumed 600 million hours per day watching short-form videos on mobile in April 2019, more than in any other category. It’s up to us to capture that value and unlock all that video truly has to offer.
Pivot to video
As we all remember, as media companies desperately tried to cater to the Facebook algorithm in 2018, many made the disastrous decision to “pivot to video.”
In doing so, they laid off reporters and editors by the dozen. Thrillist’s parent company let more than 20 writers go so that the company could instead “dream in video.” Mic dismissed people from its news and editorial departments to refocus on “new mixed-media formats in social video.” And there were many, many more.
However, even in light of these staffing changes, companies were actually ill-equipped to take advantage of the video boom. At the time of the big pivot, there was a fundamental lack of infrastructure around video search.
Anyone in media knows that SEO is the name of the game when it comes to high-volume traffic. Before deciding to bet big on video, media companies spent years honing their search strategy and optimizing their articles for clicks and searchability. All of this work was based on text search, a functionality fundamentally limited by the video format. Aside from descriptions, keywords and metatext, there just isn’t enough information, which means that platforms hoping to capitalize on video were starting from a disadvantaged position from the very get-go.
Mecca for marketers
Instead of investing in a comparable video search infrastructure before changing their whole content strategy (which would have essentially meant building SEO 2.0), media companies relied heavily on social media for content promotion.
But for most b-to-b and DTC marketers, the transition was not as jarring. Marketers, who are used to telling a story succinctly and with an eye on sustained engagement, were able to take advantage of this new channel, leveraging new tactics to drive attention. Tweets with video saw 10 times more engagement. Creators discovered that their audiences would spend three times more time watching a Facebook Live video than an uploaded one.
Because of these new strategies and insights, marketers were able to ride the video wave in 2018. But in 2019, the video landscape will change once again as video search finally comes online.
Improving video SEO
Over the past few years, video pieces have started to appear closer and closer to the top of organic search results on both desktop and mobile pages. When Google announced that it would start using AI to identify snippets of video related to search queries that would appear at the top of search engine results pages, more companies jumped on board.
Rudimentary image and video search utilities have existed for years, but today’s tech epoch is marked by huge advancements in capabilities. Thanks to a convergence of storage capacity, computing power and AI, video search is improving in leaps and bounds. Through the use of AI, it is now possible to transcribe audio tracks at scale. Every day, we are seeing advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and voice-, face- and object-recognition technologies, increasing accuracy and making closed captioning more accessible in the process.
Thanks to these breakthroughs, video has never been more discoverable.
A new video landscape
Video has been part and parcel of marketing programs for decades now. But with startups and research labs discovering powerful new ways of searching, annotating and mining video footage, it’s an increasingly larger piece of the pie. After all, video is core for audience retention and engagement on every social media platform and marketing channel out there.
Marketers need to take advantage of this new reality by fine-tuning their specific video strategies. Video is going live—and I mean that literally. Live streaming services are growing exponentially in popularity on Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media channels. It’s also becoming one-on-one. Given the ease of shooting videos with smartphones, marketers are discovering the value of lead nurturing and customer communications by sending personalized video messages instead of calling or sending email.
When marketers do their job well, audiences like to just sit back and watch. Video has fulfilled its prophecy. Search engines are bringing users to your content. If you’ve ever dreamed of direct, instant access to your audience, this is the answer to your prayers. You better listen.