Brands Ignoring Short Form Video Will Have To Spend Big Playing Catch Up In 2015

No longer can brands brush these new age video platforms under the digital rug. As time passes, competition is rising fast and brands across the globe are missing their opportunity to engage their ever-growing mobile video audiences.

As the digital marketing battleground increasingly goes mobile, the micro video platforms have been leading the march for consumer attention. In the past 18 months we’ve seen a huge shift in the online video world. The global adoption of the smartphone has led to mobile-first consumption habits and new-found domination of mobile video apps like Vine and Snapchat. No longer is YouTube the go-to online destination for video-goers. These two short form heavyweights have impacted the video landscape for good.

If you thought you could sit back and have your video re-purposed for mobile, then it’s time to wake up. Times have changed! Native, platform-specific content must be complementary to users’ feeds, not intrusive.

In 2013, nearly 58% of the world’s population were mobile users. according to Cisco, which also predicted that there would be 5+ billion smartphones in use by 2018. To say the potential market is huge is a massive understatement.

The increase in mobile technology and faster internet speeds has helped make video today truly ­­­­­mobile and the introduction of short form platforms, requiring less time, data, battery power and attention, have made consumption effortless. No matter where you are, be it the bus, train or plane, you’ve got a device for micro content creation right there in your pocket. As a result, micro video engagement rates are rightly through the roof. In fact, in a an early Unruly study of Vine engagement they found that branded Vine content was shared 4X more than regular online video.

Vine leads the way for micro video and it’s here where there is huge potential for brands. Many brands have flocked to the platform over the past 18 months, but with popularity comes competition. With a tidal wave of short-form content engulfing the Open Web, it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd.

Enter the influencers. Just like the rise of the bedroom YouTube star, the new mobile platforms have become a haven for the next generation of video stars.

You don’t have to look far to find names like Jerome Jarre, Logan Paul or Brittany Furlan appearing in content feeds around the globe. There are probably 20+ major influencers on Vine alone, and they’re all getting snapped up by  brands looking to engage millennials. All saw the platform’s potential very early on, and have consequently attracted millions and millions of loyal followers, who seemingly love their content, whether it’s branded or not.

But, it’s not just Vine. There’s a growing trend of cross-pollination in short form video land, with platforms like Snapchat and the Bieber-backed Shots. Back in the YouTube-only days, it was knuckle down and grow an audience, then make your money by generating views of your content. Now the ‘view’ as an independent metric has become more a measure of media spend, rather than engagement. Brands and content creators are now looking for shares as a true measure of success of their videos. Shares are a far better measure of engagement. If you break it down, it’s quite easy to see why. When someone watches a video the view counter goes up. Only problem is there’s no indication as to whether the viewer actually liked it. However, for the video owner, the counter has ticked up, whereas when someone has consumed a piece of content and decided to share it with group of friends online, it’s far more accurate to say they’ve liked it, or been driven to disseminate its message.

Generally, brands aren’t getting huge cut-through organically on short form platforms. In the early days, sure, but now it’s much more difficult. Of course, there are exceptions like Red Bull and Go Pro, where the content almost makes itself. Their video content strategies also make them stand out from the crowd. Following suit from YouTube, brands are having to consider premium/paid content options to actually reach their audience.

As is common with all new social platforms, be it video or other, brands are often late(r) to the party. In efforts to play catch-up, they’ve historically relied on influencers as a gateway to achieve the success they’re accustomed too, and as an increasing percentage of budgets makes its way to mobile video, there’s no hesitation in taking this approach.

On YouTube, consumers expect to see ads, whether they like it or not they know it’s part and parcel of their free consumption.

With Vine, there’s no ads as such. Sponsored content relationships happen between brand and influencers. The results currently are much more favourable. Take this recent example from Hewlett Packard. The company partnered with a host of Vine stars for its HP Pavilion x360 campaign. Robby Ayala, a Vine influencer with 3 million followers, got more than 240,000 revines and 13,900 comments for his two pieces of content, fast approaching four times better than his non-branded work.

Native short form content, formulated by Vine influencers, mixed with a considered distribution strategy, are key for any of these looking to target mobile-first millennials. The usual YouTube post and pray approach just won’t cut it anymore. There’s way too much other content capturing attention.

YouTube was Dads with camcorders capturing content. Times have changed. Charlie biting his brother’s finger just won’t cut it anymore.