Erick Brownstein, partner and chief strategy officer at Shareability, shares his top predictions for the coming year
Today, we reach into our pockets and find devices with hardware and software that have finally achieved ‘full mobile video’. Users are consuming and creating more content than ever before. Expanding audiences and features are constantly prompting new formats. Brands and publishers navigate whether to make bold moves in the content space or risk being left in the dust.
In 2017, as every player races to become the mobile-first television experience for a new generation, we’ll see the moving and shaking come from:
The rise of live video
With the launch of livestreaming on Instagram and Live’s rapid expansion on Facebook, supported by an unprecedented traditional media buy, the live video ecosystem will grow, spinning off new micro-formats. These new kinds of shows will often include interstitials, commercials, and pre-produced content. A live experience will often be completely pre-produced and simply programmed live. For an example, see the premiere of Buzzfeed Movie Night with a Monty Python and the Holy Grail screening on Facebook Live. Welcome to the new TV. We're going to watch it happen in real time.
Mobile SVOD & AVOD come of age
TV-connected SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) is a game for power-players, right now. You’re going to need pretty great content, like live-streaming sports, or stellar features to get users to spend much time outside Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
Mobile viewership, on the other hand, is dominated by social video and there’s room for services to capture this audience. I just signed back up for Fullscreen’s app because I found out that, as an AT&T mobile customer, I can sign on for a full year of the service for free with (this is a big one for me) the ability to stream over my AT&T cellular connection without using my plan data. I mentioned this deal at a panel recently and heard quiet gasps at the very concept of all that sweet, sweet free data usage. Data still matters and content always will.
We’re going to see providers jockeying for position her. Make sure you don’t write off ad-supported content (AVOD), as we continue to see evidence that viewers are okay with watching some ads if it means they can watch what they want, when they want.
Facebook & Instagram eat the internet
The past year has seen one example after another of Facebook and Instagram's continuing aggressive campaign to co-opt core functionalities of other apps into their own dominant ecosystem. Their shared ad platform, with its robust targeting capabilities and Facebook’s mostly black-box audience data, makes this a powerful space for marketers.
Facebook's new Video hub mirrors interface features from Snapchat and Instagram, where younger users spend more of their time. Featuring micro-video and memes means Facebook and Instagram can replace Vine as a hub of clever, short-form looping video clips. That kind of content has become something like Saturday-morning cartoons meets the funny-pages for a new generation. Facebook will be watching performance closely and coming to understand who wants to watch video memes versus New York Times mini-docs, and they will optimise accordingly.
Brands create truly good content (or lose by default)
Too many brands will try to be all over too many platforms simultaneously with uninteresting, ‘inoffensive’ advertisement-heavy content. Look for more savvy brands to show high standards for their content in terms of creativity and entertainment value. More will invest in episodic, narrative, and one-off hero video projects, creating slates of original social formats to distribute to the right audiences on the right platforms. These can feed into their linear TV and media strategies and drive long-term, deeper relationships with influencers, celebrities, and content partners.
As every demographic lives increasingly mobile native lives, it takes a new kind of thinking to keep up. This is new ground that is being broken by digital creators, leading media brands, and normal everyday users and it takes a both right brain and left brained approach: the analytical to optimise, and the wildly creative to innovative. In 2017, there will certainly be plenty of canvas for us to paint on.
Erick Brownstein is partner and chief strategy officer at Shareability