There is a saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Nothing could be truer since it turns out that the human brain actually processes visuals 60,000 times faster than a text message. A video, however, which is a collection of thousands of images, not only gets processed faster but also has the ability to make an instant emotional impact, something that images and text can’t do nearly as efficiently. Over the last decade, we have seen the Facebook timeline evolve from being a collection of text-based statuses to a mixed-media stream with a massive emphasis on video.
Facebook and YouTube both have close to 200 million users in India alone. By 2020, the global market for video users is expected to reach 2.4 billion and by the end of 2017, more than 70% of all internet traffic will be video. Consumers on an average are already watching over 200+ videos a month. They are 39% more likely to share content and 36% more likely to comment on content delivered via video.
In a recently conducted survey, Facebook users found video to be over five times more engaging than images. In order to understand what the next 100 million people will do or what the existing billions of users will do, we need to understand what the current digital distribution mediums do that traditional mediums like television and print cannot do. Below is a summary of these features:
Ability to consume content on-demand: Consumers want to consume content through the day, where and when they like. This trend will continue and we will see consumption on social media platforms and OTT platforms eclipse television/cable and satellite in a few years.
Ability to express: People don’t view content platforms differently from communication platforms. Today, users are not only consumers but also content creators, curators and distributors. People share videos to express themselves and often rely on content created by new-age digital entertainment companies and other digital creators. This two-way dialogue means that traditional content creation and distribution, which is often one-way in its nature, will become a small part of the larger content ecosystem.
Ease of discovery: Conventional thinking suggests that consumption of vernacular and local language content will become an emerging consumption pattern. However, a far more exciting trend will also emerge — the globalisation of content. Digital platforms allow for content discovery across countries and it will not be surprising if people from one country begin enjoying content created in another country in another language. Global hits in the short-form format prove this, which display high virality and quickly spread across multiple countries. The early signs also exist in the long-form. For instance, emergence of local originals like Narcos — a Spanish series about a Colombian drug lord, created and distributed by a US company, consumed en masse in urban India.
Distribution becomes cheap: Today, any consumer sitting in her bedroom can create a video that may resonate with audiences. Furthermore, with the emergence of video filters, the same creator can create multiple interesting characters, which help entertain consumers. The lack of distribution walls like those that exist in television, ensure that superstars can be created overnight. This also means that although it is easier than ever to create content, it is harder than ever to create a hit.
Change in formats: With the emergence of 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality, we will see large digital distribution platforms embracing new formats. These technologies will allow consumers to experience various content buckets in new ways (whether it is travel, gaming or simply experiencing a new product). Even in the last couple of years, we have seen the emergence of new formats, the latest one is the ephemeral video via messaging. While Snapchat was the pioneer here, Facebook has now rolled out these features called Stories across all its platforms.
Similarly, we saw the emergence of live video — something that will continue to grow. We will see such feature innovation on these platforms and new-age content creators will use them effectively to create new forms of content. For example, it is not difficult to conceive niche sports getting reasonable size live broadcasts and a community following through this method. A good example of this is Twitch, a gaming-focussed vertical-based platform, which has scaled effectively in the past few years.
Content-enabled Commerce: We are likely to see the marriage of commerce and content as digital platforms allow companies and consumers to transact seamlessly through their platforms. This has already been seen in China where live video has seen massive viewership and monetisation, both via virtual and physical goods.
We have entered an exciting era for content. Whenever there is a tectonic shift in the underlying distribution medium, there is a huge shift in consumer behaviour and we often see the emergence of innovators that provide value to consumers. We are in the first innings of this change in digital content and there will surely be a lot of value creation for existing and new consumers in the years to come.
The author Anirudh Pandita is founder, Pocket Aces