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Why short-form video should be your next marketing focus

Why short-form video should be your next marketing focus Irfon Watkins

Wherever consumer attention goes, so must businesses' investment in captivating that attention. This may be obvious, but it's worth underlining now, as digital consumer habits rapidly evolve. Brands that successfully adapt will do so by radically rethinking their methodology for both developing and targeting ads. And that's where brands find themselves with short-form video right now.

As far as users are concerned, video is no longer just a fun extra feature to stumble upon as they browse the web. Video, and particularly short-form video, is the thing that is bringing them to the web in the first place -- repeatedly.

A lot of people active in the online video space are familiar with Cisco's forecast that 79 percent of all online consumer traffic will be video by 2018, and that's starting from a position where video was already accountable for 66 percent of online consumer traffic in 2013. Much of that growth has been around short-form video.

We see this in a number of ways:

Views on mobile devices account for nearly 40 percent of the time users spend on YouTube. According to eMarketer, consumers now spend about 50 percent more time watching video on mobile devices than they do on computers -- that's 33 minutes per day on mobile, 22 on desktops or laptops. Consumers' adaptation to and reliance on mobile certainly drives consumption of short-form video, as mobile is more conducive to the smaller format.

Diversity in short-form video sites is emerging. In addition to the more established content distribution players in short-form video -- YouTube and Vimeo on desktop; Facebook, Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat on mobile -- there are also many emerging media companies whose models depend on a widespread audience hunger for the format. Vessel is taking on YouTube as a high-quality short-form "celebrity" platform, while companies like AnyClip, Perform, and NDN are busting into the comScore top 10 for video thanks to their unique video distribution models.

Willingness of brand advertisers to use short-form video is up. This willingness is fueling profits for digital properties that specialize in delivering it at scale across multiple devices. Industry experts estimate YouTube alone generated $3.7 billion in ad revenue in 2013, and about $4 billion in 2014. The total revenue in 2015 for short-form video, across all providers, has been forecasted at $5 billion and $13 billion by 2019. The reasons for this explosive growth come from both the publisher side and the advertiser side. Savvy publishers understand advertising is simply the best way to monetize this content. Long-form video providers can rely on subscriptions for revenue, but that's clearly not an option for short-form providers.

The most popular short-form videos -- like viral or music videos -- can garner many more views in total than longer-form content because they are much more convenient to watch repeatedly -- and across multiple devices. Brands' investment in short-form pays off. According to an IAB-sanctioned report, 78 percent of the ad views for "digital pure-play" publishers (that is, content providers that don't act like programmers) comes from short-form videos, and overall, 73 percent of viewers will watch an ad in a short-form video all the way through.

However, with every great opportunity there will always be a few hurdles to clear, and short-form video is no different.

Short-form video presents a number of strategic challenges for brands. For instance, content distributors, whether platforms or individual publisher sites, need to mitigate the risk of having to provide costly make-goods in the event campaigns delivered on inventory that doesn't meet brand criteria around viewability and brand safety. The onus is on publishers and content distributors to take charge of their inventory and ensure that the opportunity is safe and targeted for brands, in order to grow their own revenue and to deliver advertiser ROI.

Targeted short-form video advertising lies at an ideal juncture for brand advertisers -- an engaged and increasing audience, in a scalable environment where advertisers have only begun to really get smart. But as content providers who are seeing real revenue know already, the value lies in understanding audience behavior, audience interest, and the contextual environment in which the video is found. Understanding these elements will open the floodgates of business opportunity around short-form video and help brands deliver their ads at scale to consumers in the right mindset for their messages.

Irfon Watkins is CEO at Coull.

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Irfon career began when he left his homeland of Wales for London to join punk group The Groovy Pineapples. Unfortunately, the band soon split up due to artistic differences. While wondering what to do next, one of Irfon’s bandmates bet him he...

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