The nature of the Internet is interactive. Isn’t it about time video caught up to the rest of the web?
Of course, we’re all too familiar with technology that promises the next greatest thing online. Whether it’s the latest mobile app, website widget, or data analysis tool, all too often, reality falls short of expectations. Consider online video in its infancy. It provided a new frontier for advertisers to promote their products, engage existing viewers, and attract younger audiences. It promised to offset decreasing ad sales in print media by revitalizing the market through use of new technologies. As broadband became ubiquitous, supply could not keep up with demand.
However, revenue generated by video content often fell short of expectations and even production costs.
In the beginning, most found that they were not prepared to create content that their online audience wanted to watch. Videos were either too long (creating download problems), constrained to a desktop format, or, worse yet, contained lengthy video ads that viewers were forced to watch prior to the desired video.
Most of these challenges have been overcome, as content providers adapted to their audience’s expectations and provided videos that people wanted and were able to watch. Today, 60 percent of people prefer watching video over reading text. Video keeps visitors on your website longer and is regarded as more memorable than written content. According to Cisco, by 2019, online video traffic will account for between 80 and 90 percent of all global bandwidth (Source).
Media companies are by far the best potential providers of video content to their designated market areas (DMAs). They understand their local markets wants and needs and are intimately connected to advertisers. They have unparalleled, vast archives of content available immediately available for repurposing. The video spots available on media company websites should be queuing advertisers up, and accounting departments should be working overtime counting all the money, right?
Wrong. The reality was that online video created its own challenges. For example, a viewer is watching an online video about the latest political debate. As they watch, they become curious about a particular candidate. They stop the video, launch another tab in the browser and do a search for more information.
What just happened? The chance the viewer is going to return to the original site to watch the rest of the video is slim, as they have become distracted by other content. The website that provided the video has now lost a video viewer (rate of abandonment average is 40 to 50 percent) and will not watch more video or view more content. The website has become “slippery.”
Another challenge is with programmatic video ads. The viewer sees a local sports video they want to watch and clicks “play.” A video ad pops up for disposable diapers, and informs the viewer that it will play for 20 seconds before the content is displayed. The viewer closes the video player and exits the website.
Why did the viewer stop watching? The programmatic video ad was intrusive and unrelated to the content. Although there are many ad delivery platforms that promise targeted ads related to content, it’s difficult to find the right delivery method unless the advertiser is somehow interconnected with the desired video content. Many advertisers are moving to “native” advertising precisely for this reason, as it subtly promotes products while providing the viewer something of value.
Enter online video interactivity. A concept that has been around for a number of years, it was not ready for the demands of real-world production environments until recently. In its simplest form, interactivity allows users to interact with video content to obtain more information about objects inside the video. This allows them to discover more information about a specific subject or to purchase a product that is displayed, directing them to other webpages after the video is complete.
Interactive online video is like having a personal digital assistant taking notes about things that you find interesting while watching the video, without interrupting the content itself. Psychology meets technology. The rate of video abandonment decreases dramatically as users have less reason to go to other websites for information, and the video providers can redirect viewers to other pages within their own websites. The rate at which viewers make purchases increases by a factor of 10 to 20 as the products are now based on “pull” advertising as opposed to “push.” The relevancy of items for sale correlates with the content.
Interactive online video is not a trend. It’s a paradigm shift. Online audiences prefer to be informed, entertained, and make purchase decisions based on video content.Interactivity bridges the gap between passive video viewership and action. The market is at a critical juncture where the convergence of devices used to access information is becoming one and the same (desktop, smart phones, laptops, tablets and OTT). Now is the time for media companies to embrace online video and interactivity as part of their core strategy.
At Clixie Media, we work with large, medium, and small media companies around the globe to help them increase revenue and better engage their viewing audience. The challenges are surprisingly similar, regardless of the size or location of the media company. The solutions are relatively simple to implement. Online video took over the web in 2014 and 2015; 2016 is the year it becomes interactive.