Video content is exploding right now, and everyone wants to get in on the game.
Amazon is launching its own take on YouTube. Spotify wants to become another MTV. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are beefing up their video features. And don’t forget Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app that ushered in the era of vertical video.
The video arms race has made it more challenging for brands to determine the best place to showcase their video stories. Gone are the days when YouTube reigned supreme. These days, marketers have many more options on distributing video and reaching their audience. They also have more choices when it comes to format. Live or prerecorded? Vertical or horizontal? Short-form or long-form?
To help untangle the conundrum, it’s helpful to understand why video has become such a hot content type in the first place.
Thanks in part to mobile devices, video views are on the rise, and video accounts for an ever-increasing amount of our time online. In addition to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, users are racking up video views on social media apps like Facebook and Snapchat. On the marketing front, video is an effective tool—more so than other mediums.
Why? In short, video grabs users’ attention. As a result, everyone from social media platforms to publishers to brands themselves are shoring up their video capabilities in order to keep up with the competition.
Spotify, known as a music streaming service, is expanding its reach with a new slate of original video series. The company has deals to produce a dozen original series with big names in the entertainment industry, including actor Tim Robbins and Def Jam records co-founder Russell Simmons. The company already features video from publishing partners like Disney, BBC, Slate, and Comedy Central.
Spotify is betting that music-themed, original content will be the “second act” users need to keep coming back to the service. “The idea is to make sure users know they come here for something other than playlists,” Spotify content partnership chief Tom Calderone told Bloomberg.
Video offerings will range from a few minutes to 15 minutes and will be available to both free and paid users, Bloomberg reports. Simmons will produce “Rush Hour,” premised on bringing two hip-hop acts together to create a crowd-worthy music collaboration. Robbins is producing a mockumentary series about a competition to find the next dance music phenomenon. If the ploy works and the content gains traction, Spotify could find itself peeling off users from rival services Apple Music and YouTube. Ultimately, the company could collaborate with artists themselves on video projects. Once artists are on board, branded content seems like a natural progression.
Meanwhile, Amazon has launched Amazon Video Direct, a new service that appears to be a direct challenge to YouTube. Amazon’s version will let users post videos to its website and earn money from advertising and royalties, similar to YouTube. Like Netflix, Amazon already has its own slew of original video series, and it is also publishing content from publishers like Conde Nast, Bloomberg reports.
Social media icons Facebook and YouTube are also under pressure to keep up with the video Joneses. Both networks have expanded their live video features, and Facebook is paying publishers to use the live feature. Facebook Live video could end up becoming a “portal for virtually any kind of video content, live or archived,” Fortune reports, making it another platform with a similar function to YouTube. Instagram publishers like National Geographic are adding original video series, too. And Snapchat, while a fairly closed platform (content can’t be shared), is still driving video views that rival Facebook’s, as Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report notes.
With the proliferation of video across platforms continuing at a rapid pace, where should brands focus their efforts?
Instead of trying to hit all video channels with equal force, marketers’ best bet is focusing on the fundamentals: audience and fit.
Brands need to place video where it will hit the right target audience, using the content format optimized for that platform. For example, brands wanting to target younger users might explore Snapchat—but their video better be vertical. Facebook is the platform of choice for a wide swath of users—but video content better be uploaded natively (or better yet, live) to earn a higher ranking on users’ news feeds. Entertainment-related brands might closely watch how Spotify’s video offerings are evolving and related branded opportunities.
For now, Amazon Video Direct remains a work in progress, with a cumbersome uploading process that suggests a long road ahead before it can compete with the likes of YouTube, USA Today reports. But if the service works out the kinks, it may soon be able to capitalize on a global audience of users (and a wealth of shopping data).
Of course, the platform doesn’t matter if the content isn’t engaging to begin with. Managing video distribution is just one piece of the puzzle; brands need to create great content first, otherwise the platform won’t matter. In the video arms race, the best content always wins.
Want to learn more about creating great video content? Learn how Skyword’s network of videographers can elevate your brand storytelling.