5 predictions for online video in 2015: How today’s emerging trends will grow into marketing must-haves

by Erika Trautman |

This article was originally published on Forbes.com on 12/8/14.

The online video industry moves quickly. As the year comes to an end, we’re already contemplating what’s in store for online video in 2015. For marketers and publishers alike, the new year creates a tremendous opportunity to shake off the shackles of everyday execution, start thinking big for 2015, and determine how to deliver a new level of sophistication, user engagement, and results.

From mobile video to marketing automation to digital-first programming, here’s how we see today’s emerging trends growing into marketing must-haves in 2015.

1. Mobile will matter more than ever

Today, over 20 percent of video views are happening on mobile devices, and that trend is growing quickly. According to a recent eMarketer study, more than 77 percent of all tablet users will watch video programming on their devices at least monthly, and that penetration rate will grow to 87 percent by 2018, totaling 149 million tablet video viewers. To put that into context, more than 70 percent of all digital video viewers will be watching on a tablet in 2018.

Rewind three years, and know that 2015 is going to be a great year to put fantastic mobile-centric, and mobile-inclusive innovative Web ideas in front of your brands, as well as run targeted mobile ads, and collect and analyze user interactions from all types of mobile devices.

2. Marketing automation will make videos smarter

Fifty-eight percent of top-performing companies (defined as those where marketing contributes more than half of the sales pipeline) have adopted marketing automation, and a greater amount of agencies will become fluent in the marketing automation world in the coming year as the adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2015, according to SiriusDecisions.

But businesses will take marketing automation a step further this year by integrating their marketing automation systems (MAS) with their video content. The metrics and results that agencies will present to brands from their MAS-integrated videos will forever change the depth of analytics and customer information that brands expect from their videos. Gathering and sorting lead and engagement data to qualify leads, drive sales, and to understand the difference between mass viewers and target audience viewers is finally possible (and easy to collect) via marketing automation-integrated video.

3. Less focus on mass marketing, more on targeted marketing

We all know the Internet has serious scale, and you can buy impressions in just about any amount, but agencies will start really thinking through the difference in value between a mass market and a target market strategy in 2015.

Agencies will recognize that the likelihood of conversion from a mass market distribution strategy is remote. As brands shift their focus to moving shoppers through a purchase journey where they have a closer relationship with the viewer, they’ll realize guiding customers towards a distribution strategy that is more targeted and more personalized will more likely lead to conversions.

4. It’s all about original and premium digital video programming

Web video and, by association, Web ads, used to be fairly low quality – we all know the challenges YouTube faced selling ads in front of questionable UGC back in the day – but original digital content is growing up fast. And, as evidenced by the coverage of this year’s NewFronts, 2014 marked an inflection point, where digital-first, premium video content hit its stride. Great content creators like Conde Nast Entertainment, AOL, and Vice Media (to name a few) are producing spectacular digital-only shows designed to target an exclusively digital audience with high-quality content, and this trend will continue to grow in 2015.

These new digital programs also provide opportunities for agencies to deliver premium ad content meant for the Web to an audience most comfortable on the Web. The sites themselves will become more sophisticated, which means the premium or native ads they support will elevate brands to reach important audiences.

Content marketing and programming are no different. Agencies will make the choice in 2015 to allocate budget in a new way. Three out of four brand marketers and advertising agency executives said they expect original digital video programming to be as important as TV programming within the next three to five years.

Each year, more and more people are ditching cable and are opting for online services like Netflix and Hulu. Naturally, a greater number of companies are moving funds away from TV ads, TV production budgets, and TV ad buys – all of which provide little to no insight into the viewer. That money will instead go to the amazing digital content being produced on a platform where marketers can measure everything as well as hit critical demographics like Millennials.

5. From the “Great Unwatched” to the Conversion Driver

The U.S. is watching more videos online than ever before (38.2 billion videos in Q2 2014 alone – an increase of 43 percent over last year). However, the percentage of viewers who actually watch an entire video to its completion is low, and poor engagement and low conversion is a common – and expensive – problem. As video budgets continue to grow, so will the scrutiny from executives to ensure they are getting their money’s worth. And with the way traditional linear video is going, execs won’t be happy in 2015.

That said, with its two-way engagement and completion rates of 90 percent and above, interactive video is poised to become the single most powerful tool companies have to communicate with customers and demonstrate true ROI to the higher-ups. We think 2015 will be the year that video marketers realize the power of interactive video and incorporate it in their marketing strategies for the year.

“Consider what it really means that consumers and brands can have an interactive, multidirectional, even personalized relationship with programming content that allows them to figuratively reach through the screen to extract information and entertainment of value to them,” AdWeek’s Randall Rothenberg said at this year’s NewFronts.

And there you have it – our five predictions for online video in 2015. With audience habits shifting, expectations growing, and technology evolving, there’s no doubt that we’ll see brands, agencies, and publishers alike exploring new ways to make their online video strategy standout.

This online video trends 2015 article was originally published on Forbes.com on 12/8/14.

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