Navigating the Digital Video Landscape

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Digital video by the numbers:

  • 400% increase in mobile video views from 2012 to 2014
  • 50% of video views will occur on mobile devices in 2016
  • 50% of U.S. Facebook users watch at least one video per day
  • 6 out of 10 people prefer online video to live TV
  • 8.5 million Millennials use mobile, streaming or gaming devices every minute
  • 1 billion YouTube users (To put that in context, that’s 1/3 of all internet users.)
  • 6 billion Snapchat views per day

Digital video is taking over.

Everyone has a smartphone or tablet, even grandma. YouTube reaches more Millennials and Gen Xers than any broadcast or cable network. Primetime is losing a significant chunk of its Millennial audience, and even those watching aren’t solely focused on the TV. 84.6% of U.S. internet users peruse the internet on their smart devices while they watch TV, according to eMarketer.

The sheer volume of digital video services is expanding rapidly. Premium channels like HBO and Showtime, which were previously only available with bundled cable subscriptions, are now offering standalone subscriptions. Consumers are “cutting the cord” in droves, ditching Comcast and Fios to stream Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO from their smartphones and smart TVs. Who can blame them? We’ve all heard horror stories of dealing with Comcast customer service, and constantly increasing prices for even basic cable make the switch seem like a no-brainer. With the prevalence of digital content, cord-cutting is quickly becoming the practical, even preferred option.

And Millennials aren’t the only ones making the switch. According to a Nielsen study, Boomers are also spending more time on streaming devices, smartphones and gaming consoles. They may not be glued to their devices like Millennials, but the increase in time spent streaming is comparable. Boomers are more digitally savvy than many give them credit for, and you would be remiss to ignore them.

The digital landscape is a constantly moving target.

We already know mobile-optimized content is crucial to this “what I want when I want it and fast” audience. What is changing is how people are consuming digital content, and it’s all about convenience. While well-executed comedy videos often attract high engagement and occasionally virality, they disappear into oblivion just as quickly; however, videos that focus on teaching a skill, whether that’s a fun calligraphy tutorial or how to use your product, can not only be useful to your audience, but they can be repurposed and even provide cost savings in customer service.

Take BuzzFeed for example. BuzzFeed has always excelled at providing highly specific content that connects with niche audiences, and they’re knocking it out of the park with foodie channels Tasty and Proper Tasty. The Tasty pages showcase brief, “snack-sized” cooking videos that are almost therapeutic to watch. Tasty capitalizes on Facebook’s autoplay feature, which starts the video as soon it appears on the viewer’s screen, and you don’t even need sound to get the whole step-by-step cooking tutorial. Proper Tasty, Tasty’s British counterpart, quickly picked up 3.7 million followers and 190 million video views in one month, making it BuzzFeed’s fastest-growing Facebook page.

What does this mean?

Online video will continue to increase in importance. As the market inevitably becomes oversaturated with content, engagement, as well as view completion, will decrease. Shift your dollars to where your audience is. Tailor your content to your audience instead of casting a wide net. Choose the correct channels to deliver your message. For example, viewers watching via a smart TV are more likely to watch longer videos than those watching on social media, so sharing a 5-minute tutorial video on Facebook likely won’t receive high engagement; however, that same video on YouTube might get thousands of views.

The one-size-fits-all approach is dead. Don’t get lost in the clutter.