At a recent Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX) event regarding online video distribution and discovery, I was struck by the wide range of companies that were represented in the audience. There were technology companies, manufacturers, merchants, and nonprofits, and their interest was all aligned around using media to further their businesses.
After the panel discussion, it occurred to me that the meteoric rise of YouTube and the online consumer’s embrace of video show that virtually every company has woken up and realized that it needs to be a media company.
What I mean by this is that in a market where video is increasingly inexpensive to produce and highly efficient at communicating a message, a company able to embrace the medium and make it a core competence can establish a distinct marketing advantage.
This paradigm shift is driven by three primary factors:
1) Online video consumption: The U.S. market for online video is currently 238 million unique users, according to Comscore, and is projected to be 168 million by 2011. YouTube alone has more than 40 million unique visitors.
2) Online video production: Google now offers video ads for its AdSense campaigns, and Google has recently reported that video AdSense ads receive a higher click-through rate than traditional text ads. At the same time, an entire market is sprouting around democratizing the use of video by the small merchant, with companies such as SpotRunner and TurnHere creating platforms for “instant” video ads, including the ability to purchase media slots across cable networks and internet inventory.
3) Online video distribution: Google’s integration of YouTube videos into its main search results is also creating the need to consider YouTube “optimization” as a marketing capability. By next year, YouTube is likely to deliver more than 40 percent of all video streams online, almost 10-times the next-largest competitor. In addition, sites like Vator.tv and Techcrunch.com now accept video pitches and marketing pieces, and they create social networks around various topics to enable a marketplace for video promotion. Yellow Pages sites like superpages.com are now allowing video advertising as part of their package of services for local merchants. In addition, new solutions for video search engine optimization are making it possible to drive the same kind of organic discovery and traffic from search engines as is currently practiced in the text world.
These new realities force us to re-think our approach to getting our messages out. Paid search advertising taught us that the line between advertising and information was entirely dependent on the context of the user and that highly relevant information to a user’s query could generate significant interest, whether paid-for or not. Video extends this even further. A marketing message now needs to be thought of as an opportunity to inform a user about a specific topic rather than just shill for a product.
In an offline world where we have relatively little choice over what ads we have to view, the need to inform is less imperative. In an online world, there is infinite competition for users’ attention, and the need to ensure that your media is discoverable where your users are likely to be looking for it -- and delivers a timely and informative message when they find it -- becomes crucial.
In a world where every company is a media company, the medium and the message become equally important.
— Tom Wilde, CEO, EveryZing