The Year of Online Video: What We Saw and What’s Next for Brands

“This year has been very much about video.”

So says Eleni Marouli, senior analyst with global research firm IHS Technology, and there’s no arguing her point. Even as spending on other mediums slows, digital advertising continues to see double-digit growth, largely due to online video. According to media network Carat’s recent U.S. ad spend forecast, online video, along with mobile, is currently in high demand.

Part of the credit goes to opportunity. Live-streaming video exploded in 2015 with the introduction of Meerkat and Twitter-owned Periscope, and brands like GE and Smart USA used them to highlight important events. Also this year, AOL introduced  a host of new premium video ad formats, and Facebook began challenging YouTube by attracting videos from top brands. Meanwhile, YouTube’s engineers have been busy making its videos more appealing to vertical viewers, and Google has simplified video advertising by integrating YouTube TrueView ads with the AdWords dashboard.

Even more recently, Instagram launched 30-second video ads, and made its video advertising available to marketers in more than 30 countries. Prior to this month, brands using the platform were limited to just 15 seconds of video content. Now, they can use Instagram to extend the reach of their 30-second TV spots.

“Advertising is about creativity, but it’s also about scale,” Marouli says. “You can’t have different creative for every single platform.” As a result of the updated format, she expects spending on Instagram to rise. “There’s been a lot in the media about ad blocking, and we’re seeing increasing concern about ads not being seen. Instagram is a brand-friendly photo- and video-sharing platform.” She adds, “It could become the king of brand content.”

Video, in general, has dominated both media buying and content marketing for quite some time. We’re seeing more and more brands embrace video across platforms and channels. With a cross-channel strategy, companies can reach consumers wherever they are with a consistent message that stands to increase awareness, recall, and sales.

Take Cheerios. To promote its decision to make its products gluten-free, the brand created a two-minute-long explanatory video for YouTube. It then drove traffic to its YouTube channel with a 60-second TV spot that aired during last week’s Emmy Awards.

Absolut Vodka has been investing in both YouTube and Instagram video to promote its Absolut Spark bottle. A few months ago, the brand posted a three-minute short film about the bottle on YouTube, which was developed by creative services agency Sid Lee and directed by Grammy-winning Melina Matsoukas.

The film is part of the brand’s ongoing “Absolut Nights” campaign and has generated more than 4.7 million views since its April 2015 release. Its Instagram video ads have garnered close to 50,000 likes.


“Video production is quite expensive, usually attempted by the big brands,” Marouli says, “but there’s space now for all brands to use Instagram in the creation process. It gives them more control over their voice and the message they’re sending to consumers.”

With so many major developments in our wake, what’s next? Even more video and a laser-focus on cross-platform strategy to go with it.

It’s expected that by 2017, 74 percent of all Internet traffic will come from video. Consumption of video on smartphones and tablets will increase by nearly 44 percent this year and close to 35 percent in 2016. Look for marketers to boost their investment in mobile video as they pump more content onto Facebook and Instagram, particularly to complement brand videos and films delivered through YouTube.

It’s been a big year for online video – and it’s not over yet.


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