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Video: 2015’s Most Important Content Marketing Asset?

More than ten years after YouTube was launched, video clearly isn’t going out of fashion on the internet. If anything, even the Google-owned cornerstone of the web will have to watch its back in the coming months, because it’s got competition – and content creators really need to take note, as video marketing is predicted to get much bigger.

Compiled at the end of 2014 by Google-certified partner Webmarketing123, the fourth annual State of Digital Marketing Survey consulted over 600 marketing professionals on what they thought was 2015’s “top objectives, toughest challenges and hottest trends”.

After pushing aside the phraseology you’d expect from a Bay Area-based company (e.g. “proving ROI emerged as a major pain point”), one fact was clearly stated as a key trend that could not be ignored: video dominates content marketing. It explained: “Three out of four marketers (B2B and B2C) use video in their marketing mix, and seven out of ten believe it’s the most effective content marketing tactic, trumping eBooks, case studies, infographics, webinars, blogs, and mobile apps.”

It continued: “Video is the most widely used and the most effective content marketing tactic according to both B2B and B2C marketers.” Over three-quarters of B2B marketers (76%) picked it as their number one go-to, trumping case studies (69%) and webinars (64%) and showing a marked detachment from the previous favourite, infographics (54%). As for B2C, it was 74% – but the joint-second-placed assets of blogs and mobile apps (44%) were much further behind.

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Is this really a surprise? Now we’re coming to the twilight weeks of another uneventful British summer and into the final third of 2015, not so much – but only because of the changes we’ve experienced through the year.

As expected, the rapid development and uptake of fibre-optic broadband and 4G has literally brought most digital media users up to speed with high-quality streaming, and new users (both young and old) get these as standard. You only have to look at this year’s entry-level packages provided by BT, Virgin and Sky to see that fibre-optic is no longer a privilege – it’s becoming a right, at least at a reasonable price.

What started as a seeming revolution in moving images – such as the resurrection of the .gif format, which only seemed to be supported by the likes of Geocities prior to its renaissance through the likes of Digg and Reddit from around 2010 – has now transformed into full-blown inclusion in the most unlikely of places. Even the more questionable content-sharing outlets such as 4chan have started incorporating the WebM format into pages, allowing for crisp-yet-super-compressed high-quality video to run free on even the most austere of websites.

Twitter is perhaps the key battleground – and benefactor – from the shift in tastes. Indeed, it is probably one of the main drivers, since it decided to no longer rely on YouTube embedding.

Oreo, which had already celebrated the .gif in a low-resolution June 2014 effort, is a brand that has been pushing the boundaries of corporate promotion on the platform since 2010. It’s been celebrated for its approach for years. Jumping straight from .gifs into video, Oreo became one of the earliest adopters of the technology after embracing Instagram’s video functionality.

From here, it’s now a main staple of countless Twitterholic companies, such as Paddy Power, which seems to post five to ten videos a day – at least.

On January 27th, actor Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the technology and trend, but was immediately met with resistance. Brendan Gahan, of the New York Observer, was one of them. “For myself, and countless others, the one thing that has made Twitter so appealing is its simplicity. Whether you have a lot of time or a little, Twitter is a fun escape.

“You can easily scroll and flip through a great deal of content quickly, and there’s no algorithm hiding content from your feed the way Facebook is. Adding video would more than likely make the platform more complex, and Twitter’s point of differentiation (convenience and simplicity) would melt away.”

And yet the platform hasn’t taken heed of this worry – it outright ignored it, in line with Webmarketing123’s predictions. People expected user growth to double because of the revelation. Indeed, it posted 61% year-on-year growth in revenue. …but user growth was “unsatisfactory”. Perhaps video isn’t as impactful as many believed.

Only time will tell – for a platform still in a relative infancy, it’s not about simply using it – it’s about how you harness it, and until this is tied into true return on investment, we may never know. Perhaps the aforementioned “major pain point” may be a more accurate means of describing this issue.

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