Video was a major force in digital marketing in 2016 as strong consumer demand met important innovations like vertical, interactive and live content, laying the groundwork for further adoption as well as new creative offerings and distribution strategies next year.
Not all video marketing news was positive, however, as Facebook was hit with a scandal in September when it revealed that it had been inflating its video ad metrics for the previous two years. More recently, new data showed that Snapchat users are watching video ads for less than three seconds on average.
Despite these setbacks, video's momentum continues to pick up speed with developments like the rise of live streaming video, which is bringing a real-time audience to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. Live streaming is delivering content that otherwise might only be found on linear TV like pro sports and presidential debates, and providing marketers with a new video content type to reach an audience.
“Video marketing is certainly here to stay and 2017 may be its most interesting year thus far," Amber Lee, Partner and CEO at Visual Country, told Marketing Dive.
Major developments in video marketing
One big development in video marketing was the idea that vertical video wasn’t verboten as Snapchat users happily watched vertical video on the social media app. Instagram Stories, its response to a feature with the same name on Snapchat, further boosted the idea of vertical video.
“If 2016 was the year in which vertical video sprouted, 2017 will be the year it blossoms,” said Lee.
One challenge Snapchat faces is its video ad platform is closed off to a select group of partners, keeping it out of reach for individuals and SMBs. But Lee expects that to change soon after the IPO of Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, which is expected to take place in early 2017.
If Snapchat opens up its video ad platform, further growth in vertical video is likely to follow, per Lee.
Other platforms are also ramping up video marketing opportunities.
"Pinterest also launched sponsored video in August 2016, and more recently unveiled the ‘Pin Collective,’ which connects businesses with the best content creators, as hand-selected by the Pinterest team," said Lee.
Video also transitioned from passive to interactive in 2016, a trend that is likely to reach new heights in 2017.
“While one-way videos still exist, marketers increasingly took advantage of new tools to embed surveys, polls and other calls to action within their videos," Tyler Lessard, CMO at Vidyard, told Marketing Dive. "In 2017, viewers will have even more options to make watching videos more of a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience.”
Another major development was the rise of native advertising with its video ad component. “Banner blindness” and ad blockers have forced brands and publishers to focus more heavily on ad quality and ads that are genuinely engaging rather than interruptive. This approach has resulted in significantly higher click-through rates when well executed, per Lee.
How video marketing advanced in 2016
Beyond the major format developments, video marketing made impressive overall strides this year as well.
More companies are adding video to their marketing mix, and doing so in-house rather than turning to third-party production companies, which can increase sophistication in video analytics and tactics that turn viewers into customers.
“Marketers expanded their use of personalized and interactive video," said Lessard. "These are arguably still in early adopter phase but both are important trends that are already paying dividends for the brands that use them."
Another advancement is how paid distribution on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter made video marketing more accessible for SMB brands, according to Lee. For larger brands, 2016 brought the lesson that short-form is a permanent part of the media landscape and not a fad, especially on mobile.
A Videology Group study cited by Lee found that found 15-second video spots were up 28% in Q3 2016 from the prior quarter, although 30-second spots remained the most popular. The increase in mobile video views correlates to the increase in short-form video, said Lee.
While video marketing made notable strides, the most tangible setback for the space was the metrics issue around social media ads and the subsequent fallout, including a class-action lawsuit filed against Facebook by affected marketers.
“This problem emphasizes the importance of accurate analytics that make sense for the media type and the premium that brands are paying," said Lessard. "Brands are no longer paying for impressions or views; they're paying for actual engagement.”
Where video marketing is heading in 2017
Next year, marketers are expected to move more video content to their own properties and deploy custom-branded video channels on their own websites, according to Lessard.
“This is becoming increasing important as customers expect video on their own branded properties, and brands need to take more control over the experience than YouTube offers,” he said. “We also expect to see more interactive and personalized video experiences as brands look for new ways to stand out and get the attention and engagement of target audiences.”
Video will become more apparent in the general retail experience, predicted Lee, with a new focus on video at the point-of-sale as brands look to optimize video shoots and produce multiple assets from each production. This will allow brands to create what Lee described as “true omnichannel experiences” while telling a consistent story across the growing list of channels, devices and locations.
Another development that could impact how video is created and distributed next year is the Department of Justice's investigation into allegations that ad agencies are rigging the bidding process for commercial production to favor their own teams, which could see marketers shifting more work to digital agencies or in-house.
Additionally, new over-the-top video offerings from Direct TV Now, Netflix, CBS and others are likely to further fragment the space, making it challenging for brands to know where to invest. At the same time, these services could drive further mobile viewing.
Social media will also continue to grow as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and others add new services.
“Things move so quickly, it’s easy to forget that, in 2013, there were few options for video in the social media world," said Lee. "A lot has changed since then and today it stands as a pillar of brand budgets and long-term planning processes.”