With huge potential to boost engagement and brand visibility, video is set to continue and maintain its meteoric rise to become the most powerful brand marketing tool out there.
With new technologies and platforms pushing digital video into our lives in ever more intriguing and immersive ways, the potential of video as a marketing platform grows more diverse.
With consumers increasingly cynical to traditional forms of interruptive marketing and the worrying rise of ad-blocking software, the digital environment is forcing digital marketers to create content that audiences actively seek out and engage with, in order to establish brand credibility and then loyalty. The novelty and interactive nature of many emerging video technologies play perfectly into this trend.
In this article, I want to take a look at five areas that are radically reshaping digital video and how we, as consumers, interact with it.
Augmented Reality (AR)
With Snapchat and Pokémon Go (pictured right) bringing AR to the masses, large numbers of people are not only interacting with this technology but assimilating it into their daily lives. If this has taught us one thing it’s millennials’ enthusiasm to adopt emerging AR trends en masse.
Alongside sponsored filters and targeted advertising, the fact that 40% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through augmented reality, indicates the potential for introducing a tangible element to online shopping, which could be revolutionary for e-commerce. Facebook clearly believes the future of AR lies in mobile devices rather than glasses, but however this tech evolves, the marketing potential is vast.
“I like everyone else am enjoying Pokémon Go. The biggest thing that I think we can take away from this as we invest in augmented reality in addition to virtual reality is that the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform that a lot of these AR features first become mainstream, rather than a glasses form factor that people will wear on their face.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
We’re only witnessing the genesis of AR, and with Facebook’s acquisition of filter app Masquerade and the continuing mass popularity of Snapchat, expect huge growth in this tech in the years to come.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Offering a uniquely immersive experience, although VR technology has arguably been slower to take off than initial excitement would have suggested, it still presents several key marketing opportunities. This is because VR may prove to be an essential component in the creation of new and totally immersive digital social experiences. The more involved and cumbersome nature of the hardware may be preventing bigger takeup but we are seeing significant movement in VR innovation.
PlayStation VR’s ‘surprising’ sales figures reported in early 2017, accompany a growing back catalogue of accompanying titles. Samsung’s Gear VR headset allows users to take their seat in a virtual cinema, watching content with people across the globe in real-time.
Last but not least is Facebook (who kind of act as an effective bellwether in any emergent video tech). Shortly after they acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, Zuckerberg laid out his vision “to make the world more open and connected”. It didn’t take long for Facebook to begin integrating Oculus technology with 360-video, which users have been interacting with via their News Feeds since late 2015.
VR tech is still largely confined to the gaming world, but we can expect to see more immersive social experiences develop over time. Suffice to say, the potential to experience different places in even a semi-realistic way without physically travelling there has the potential to transform marketing in certain industry sectors, notably hospitality, tourism and real estate.
Live Video Streaming
In early 2015, Periscope racked up 1 million users in just 10 days, and continued to see tremendous growth, reaching 10 million users by August of the same year. Built around the idea of “discovering the world through someone else’s eyes”, the now Twitter-owned company is following in the footsteps of both YouTube’s partner program and Twitch, by allowing creators to monetise content.
Initially embraced by Periscope, the disappearing content model has also been adopted by both Snapchat and Instagram, suggesting exclusivity is central to live video. There are, however, also benefits to Facebook’s decision to display live videos indefinitely, or at least until the creator removes them. This allows viewers to watch at their leisure, or to re-watch particularly enjoyable or informative videos.
With viewers not always expecting polished content, brands are now being presented with the opportunity to communicate with audiences in a way that is raw unscripted, allowing them to come across as more human and more in tune with the real world.
Research by Google suggests that 360 video consistently earns increased engagement and click-through rates compared to traditional video footage of a similar nature. Providing audiences with a level of autonomy over what they’re seeing creates a unique sense of immediacy and control over how they experience video. An amazing example of this is Red Bull’s 360 video of the 2016 Rally cross event, which you can watch below:
Views on the future of 360 video vary massively though, depending on who you ask. Despite the enthusiasm for 360 video from the likes of Zuckerberg and a clear advantage over traditional ‘flat’ video in reach and engagement, there are some who see it as a fad and a stepping stone to a more established and advanced virtual reality market. Other evidence points towards a strong and healthy future for 360 video. However it evolves (or whatever it evolves into) I think for now the jury’s out on this one and 360 video can bask in its continuing success.
With more and more ultra high definition (UHD) video content becoming available through platforms like Netflix and YouTube we’re likely to see increased investment in producing 4K content from marketers.
The uptake with this technology from a marketing point of view, is less to do with novelty and more to do with consumer expectations. As HD becomes the convention in terms of expected content definition across a number of streaming apps and broadcast television, so too will the increasing ubiquity of 4K content begin to drive standards up.
The death of 3D television may well be contributing to this trend. Certainly the uptake in 4K TVs suggests a continuing if not meteoric rise in the demand for UHD content. Professionally shot brand films are often shot in 4K but with the increased expectations from viewers, you can expect to see more investment in this area from brands.
Another factor could be the growth of the television as an internet-ready device capable of streaming HD and UHD content from a huge variety of sources. It’s one thing seeing a standard def YouTube ad on your smartphone or laptop and another seeing that on a 52 inch screen, especially when you’ve just been viewing 4K content. As marketing on bigger screens increases then, so too will the pressure for businesses to film in 4K.
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