Why the Pivot to Video Will Prevail

Opinion: It’s no different than the shift from print to radio, and then from radio to TV

45 percent of people watch more than one hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week RoBeDeRo/iStock

There’s been some negative buzz in recent months around publishers’ shift to distributed content—and particularly, video ad spending on Facebook. Numerous articles, citing anonymous sources and utilizing mysterious methodology, point to monetization woes, shrinking returns and writer layoffs.

But is that the full story? Is it a problem with the platforms? Are Google and Facebook dominating too much of the ecosystem? Is it the fault of traditional journalists who can’t keep pace in the new world order of video? Or is it that a few relatively new players have been able to scale to billions of views so rapidly that it breeds distrust?

I contend that Facebook and other major platforms like Google are, in fact, ideal content-discovery mechanisms that publishers should be exploring seriously and leveraging heavily despite this wave of press pessimism. Here are three reasons why this is true:

Give the people what they want

The reality is that most people prefer consuming information via video than traditional methods. A recent study found that 45 percent of people watch more than one hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week. Meanwhile, 43 percent of consumers indicate that they want to see more video content from marketers, and a whopping 64 percent make purchases after watching branded social video content.

Video is simply a better, more engaging storytelling medium for most people today. Publishers are pivoting to video because their audience has already done so—whether because Facebook forced it or the audience chose it is really irrelevant.

If we look back in time, it’s no different than the shift from print to radio, and then from radio to TV. I have to think that NBC must have faced similar accusations and mistrust when it began producing TV content decades ago. Yet it prevailed and fundamentally changed the way people consume media.

Facebook’s leading role in today’s mobile reality

Today, U.S. consumers spend five hours per day on their mobile devices. Of that time, 19 percent is spent on Facebook and its related properties—more time than any other app or website.

Platforms are perfectly positioned to deliver distributed content in today’s mobile reality. As the browser becomes less and less relevant, platforms like Facebook can scale and deliver the speed and aggregation consumers demand more effectively than individual publishers ever could.

This is why the pivot to video is inevitable. Publishers are simply adapting their strategies to changing user behavior.

Content matters even more with video

Content has always been king in advertising, but with video, it has become even more important. It needs to be compelling, targeted and relevant, able to spark curiosity while adding value.

A recent article quoting a publisher indicated that for every million views on Facebook’s News Feed, only 100,000 would get to the ad break threshold at 20 seconds. This seems extremely low based on Vix’s results with the platform, and it indicates that the content is not compelling enough to keep the viewer engaged and watching.

As we’ve seen at Vix, with the right content in place, publishers can expect to see between 40 percent and 50 percent of views reach 30 seconds or more on Facebook or similar platforms—well beyond the 20-second ad break.

Still, it’s important to test the waters before diving all in. Experiment with your distributed content and cost structures—fine-tune your strategy as you go and stay flexible. Don’t let pessimism cloud your view of what’s possible.

Video is the new normal—prepare to get on board or fall behind. Time will soon tell that content creators with a digital-first approach will learn to scale and thrive in this new environment.

Rafael Urbina is CEO of branded content creator Vix.