Is Video for Digital Publishers Worth the Hype?

video, publishers, virtual reality, vr, mobile, augmented reality, self-driving carsIf one were to define “digital publishing” loosely, it would be an amalgam of interactive, engaging content—delivered straight to the end user through online platforms. What sets it apart from traditional publishing is its format, which is designed for ease of consumption and extending unparalleled accessibility. Digital publishing has provided a global platform for companies to showcase rich content, including books, magazines, newspapers, learning material and even promotional offerings.

2015 heralded exciting times for the world of publishing: the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution (DPS) Beta program was launched; Vox Media acquired the Recode; and, Facebook decided to tap into its vast readership by launching its Instant Articles platform.

In 2016, the industry is set to scale new heights.

Storytelling Gets a Makeover: A Take on the Short-form Video

Today, the focus on architecting interactive storytelling experiences has intensified. Digital publishers have redoubled their efforts to provide users with rich media content, bolstered by the increasing use of images, and more importantly, video. What do these current consumption patterns reveal?
By 2017, researchers expect global consumer video activity to represent nearly 70 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, with online video services usage doubling during the same timeframe—reaching more than 80 percent of all users worldwide.

Today’s connected customers are habituated to visual stimuli, expect instant gratification, and are accustomed to consuming content via their mobile devices—these tendencies can be tapped into, and monetized powerfully through the short-form video. If properly leveraged, the format can provide variety to consumers, generate revenue and get the message across in spite of the rapidly dwindling attention span of the users.

Jumping on the Social Bandwagon

While social video apps have been around for a while, it’s only recently that advertisers have realized their true value. Fast emerging as the preferred mode of content dissemination for many publishers, major social networks are encouraging brands to create and curate authentic, relevant video content for marketing purposes. Advertisement-related spending on original digital video has increased by 114 percent since 2014, cementing video’s position as essential element of the publisher’s toolkit.

Consider National Geographic’s unveiling of their MoviNG Pictures series, encouraging photographers to share short videos to provide their 48.4 million Instagram followers with a taste of what goes on behind the lens. Their latest initiative, The Moment, will also mix various storytelling formats—images and videos, primarily—to grab attention across a variety of social platforms, such as Snapchat Discovery, Live Stories, Instagram, Facebook Live and Twitter. Time Inc., as well, has moved beyond the staid traditional magazine format, to offer premium digital video opportunities to businesses—helping brands tap into the magazine’s extensive customer base.

Companies that are creatively inclined are taking to Snapchat—with 10 billion video views per day—to post videos of exclusive content. They are also utilizing their exclusive Snapcode, to push their content across other platforms in order to build their follower base.

Boosting Viewership: The Best Practices

Digital publishers need to ensure that their videos are an integral component of their site experience. Viewers return to websites in search of new, interesting and relevant content. The second step for publishers is to develop an immersive storytelling experience through high-quality content: videos need to be produced, edited and scripted to engage the audience effectively. That said, video production is an expensive process if entirely undertaken in-house, as it requires a significant capital investment. Moreover, SEO performance relies greatly on volume—offering a number of videos can build relevance and drive web traffic. As a result, many publishers have taken to offering a mix of in-house and licensed content, depending predominantly on video curation and aggregation.

To build up their credibility as digital video providers—creating, managing and curating video content across platforms and devices—publishers need to focus on three key areas: ensuring a robust technology infrastructure, leveraging data analytics, and generating a sizable volume of videos.

Many publishers opt to outsource their tech infrastructure requirements. This includes support spanning all stages of creation, storage, editing, transcoding, distribution and rendering, among others. Analytics, an important component of the entire video publishing mechanism, offers insights into viewer preferences, helps monitor user behavior and habits, and enables greater revenue generation.

What Lies Ahead

For a medium that’s this hot, the opportunities are boundless. In the near future, digital video publishing is expected to foray into virtual reality (VR), taking experiential storytelling to the next level. Samsung’s Milk VR app for their Samsung Gear VR headset is a strong example of this technology, as it presents streaming and downloadable immersive video content, offers a variety of virtual experiences to the users, and looks at expanding its library to ensure repeated viewership.

In the coming years, publishers will continue to evolve, smarter platforms will emerge, and the consumer base will exponentially. In the midst of this epochal shift, video will surely emerge as a cornerstone in the industry’s digital transformation.

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