Why Short-Form Video Is The Future Of Marketing

If you have used the Internet in the past three years, chances are you have watched an online video. Video is everywhere. Our friends post funny cat videos on our timeline. Our coworkers pass along inspirational messages about success. Our favorite brands showcase their products in inventive ways. Nearly every site you visit has a video displayed in some form. As a result, video has rocketed in viewership--and there's no sign of it slowing down.

Here are 5 reasons why online video will soon dominate your time spent on the web, and why if you're a marketer, you can use video to propel your business forward.

1. More and more users are consuming their video entertainment online

Study after study after study shows that more people are using the internet to consume video. In April 2012, ComScore reported that the average viewer watched nearly 22 hours of video in a single month. Most likely, those 22 hours were broken into many short-form videos, each being watched for just a few minutes at a time. The market is moving more toward catering to the Facebook generation's attention span--quick videos that are aimed to inspire, provoke, or excite. Likewise, the viewing experience on tablets devices such as the iPad make short-form content even more enjoyable. Apps, especially in the travel realm, are using HD video to engage audiences. Desktop and laptop viewers and tablet audiences continue to consume more and more short-form video--and marketers are seeing a big opportunity arise.

2. Marketers are using video to engage social media audiences

If you truly want to measure a trend's staying power and rising popularity, there's one metric that almost never fails. Can you make money from it? If the answer is yes, and there is a lot of opportunity to do so, then you can bet that it will stick around for some time. With online video that is definitely the case. Brand marketers have found great ways to engage audiences and create brand loyalists through online video, especially through their Facebook brand pages. Look no further than a brand like Red Bull to see how this can be done perfectly. With more than 27 million Facebook fans, Red Bull, an energy drink company with an extreme sports edge, must be doing something more than just updating their status about their newest flavor. Like so many others, I subscribe to Red Bull's updates because it often features some of the world's best athletes doing unthinkable things. I don't even drink Red Bull, but you can bet I share their videos every time I see someone in a wingsuit flying through Yellow Mountain in China. That's just awesome.

I predict the next 5-10 years will be huge for video marketing online. Brands are moving further away from direct advertising, whose metrics that are hard to calculate, and into original video content--content that is created not to sell but to engage. They tell a story and they create brand loyalty. The days of direct consumer advertising is dwindling, and the advent of marketing through storytelling has arrived. This will propel online video even more into the world of serious profits.

3. Barriers to entry are low

With the barriers to entry continually being broken down with advances in technology, filmmakers now have the ability to create content--all in beautiful HD--for a much lower price tag than ever before. DSLRs, with the Canon 5D, 7D, and 60D leading the charge, have evolved into amazing filmmaking machines. Videographers now have the ability to create amazing looking shots for a fraction of the cost of even half a decade ago. Throw in a nice mic, a high-quality sound recorder, a tripod, and a bit of editing pizzaz and you can make some very compelling videos. While shooting and editing a professional-grade video still takes a good amount of skill and experience, and perhaps this alone will help keep the market from being too saturated, it is now easier than ever to teach yourself to create the next viral hit.

With that being said, there are still a few more barriers to entry. To create truly high-quality content, you must be a storyteller. You must be able to pull together a large selection of shots and content and pare it down into a manageable short-form video that will engage an audience. Again, these techniques can be learned and taught--so save a few thousand dollars, snag some equipment, watch and learn, and make the next awesome video.

4. Quality is expanding quickly

To expand on the previous point, the advent of high-quality equipment at a reasonable price means that more potential storytellers are getting their shot at creating videos. Before, the sheer price and other barriers to entry meant that there was a very small portion of the population who could even be in the field. Now, with it being much easier to afford to even make videos, there is more opportunity for younger talent to enter the market. As a result, quality is expanding quickly. While we still have a host of poorly shot cat and travel videos on YouTube, communities like Vimeo pump out amazing amounts of beautiful content every day. A quick look at the Vimeo homepage will allow you to view some of the most compelling and original video work online.

Vimeo and Youtube are also amazing teaching grounds, with tons of professional how-to and DIY videos. Likewise, sites like No Film School are giving independent filmmakers access to some of the best tips and tricks on the web, making at-home learning easier than ever. The result is a huge influx of high-quality video, which can only mean more viewers, more shares, and more enjoyment for all.

5. There are plenty of avenues for dissemination

Everyone knows YouTube and it continues to dominate the market. But unless you're a professional musician or are looking to score the new huge viral video showcasing your friends firing off bottle rockets from a made-at-home cannon, there are plenty of other places to showcase your videos. As mentioned above, Vimeo is the finest collection of artistic videographers on the web. Without outwardly deleting poor-quality content, Vimeo's homepage and search results make it easy to find awesome content and avoid the endless amounts of useless crap that often plague the YouTube experience. Along the same lines, Pinterest's new video feature gives curators great opportunities to pin videos to their boards. Even more so than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has created a sharing experience so simple and effective, it makes the potential or virility even higher. Niche markets have emerged for nearly every subject you can think of, so whether your online video is about cats with lightsabers (I'd watch it) or running The Mount Everest Marathon, chances are there are blogs and sites who want to share it. All it takes is a bit of research and outreach.

Kerrin is the co-founder of the new travel documentary site Humanity.TV. He is a self-taught filmmaker and photographer with a passion for adventure. Follow him on Twitter and like Humanity.TV on Facebook for inspiring travel videos and photos.

[Image: Flickr user IvernoDreaming]

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23 Comments

  • Loraine Antrim

    The age old adage "actions speak louder than words" holds the key to why video is and will continue to dominate. We are drawn more to seeing than reading or hearing. Loraine Antrim

  • Amber King

    Although I agree that this is a great idea Kerrin however there are some prospects that cannot be reached by videos. I believe it is good to partner videos with social media and other marketing strategies.

  • Qudos Animations

    Some really good points are raised in this article and in the comments below. Interesting that this post came from a documentary maker!

    You only need to look at big brands on YouTube to see how important online video is. A large chunk of marketing budgets should definitely be spent on video to keep up with this growing trend!

  • Brad

    You said that direct advertising is on the way out and that you could not measure the results. But direct response advertising is actually one of the only forms where you can measure the results against your spend.

    Maybe you mean brand advertising with messages without a call to action.

    I do agree with the other parts of the article though

  • Billigerous

    This article will definitely appeal to the old ad guys who are desperate to get back the glory days when the 30 second spot was king, but now they have now time limit! Epic spots abound! No time limit! Old ad fart utopia! "I finally like this InterWeb thing!"

    Video consumption continues to rise, yes. Storytelling is still key, yes. Cost of entry at an all time low, yes. The future of Marketing is a medium that is only a minute fraction of the whole story, and is really a hopeful rehash of a has been medium? Ahh... no.

    The message is not the medium.

  • Scott

    No Billigerous, the message is not the medium. The message is the what to say and the video is just one example of the how to say it. The notion that this article only appeals to "old ad guys desperate to get back to the glory days when the 30 second spot was king" is only part of the story. Agencies are full of young guys wasting a ton of client money on internet videos, social media campaigns, websites, apps, gorilla techniques and a host of other tactics that generate next to no ROI for their clients because they are ill conceived and ignored. The fact is, advertising, old and young, is desperate to find something that they can hang their suddenly accountable hats on and they're all desperate, not just the old hacks. So thanks for being the ONE person I've seen on this site that actually realizes this and has the stones to say it. Every time I look through this and other sites I see the "next big thing" that turns out to be a flop nine months later. Advertising won't find that next big thing until they jettison the faux experts from their ranks and hire actual credentialed consumer experts to understand the best ways to approach and engage people. But that's not happening. Not at agencies and definitely not in the publications.

    Great response Billigerous. Refreshing to read.

  • Vincent

    Completely agree Scott. This article is embarrassing to read and the type of nonsense espoused by people who are either (at best) clueless or (at worst) willing to rip off clients, the type for whom ROI only ever means Republic of Ireland.

    Short-form video has a tiny role to play and is wonderful when it works (which it rarely does although the industry clings desperately to a handful of one-off successful case studies e.g. Old Spice), but to describe it as the 'future of marketing' is completely and utterly ridiculous.

    If you're marketing Rice Krispies, yes you should have a video on YouTube showing people how to make Rice Krispie cakes. But will that YouTube video ever, ever, come anywhere close to achieving what your national 30 second spot will do for you overnight? Not a chance in hell.

  • 16Nov16

    Absolutely spot on - why didn't he just put together a 30-sec. video instead of yet another voluminous article

  • David

    Brilliant insight ! Just wondering how we could leverage the content of home shopping into short form video marketing and also the marketing models behind this idea mentioned. Do we have a specialized company that could be the platform ?

  • CharlesStreetLot

    David- please email me at CharlesStreetLot@gmail.com...I am working on exactly the same issue.

  • Steve Lubetkin

    The only thing I would add is that you should NOT be afraid to make longer, documentary style videos for the web. It doesn't just have to be two minutes or less. People who have already self-selected your content are interested in what you produce and will be receptive to hearing more in detail from you.

    Steve "" Lubetkin
    Managing Partner, Lubetkin Global Communications
    www.lubetkin.net

  • badscience

    Short-form video is not only the future of marketing, it's the past.  Some of the most compelling storytelling in the past 50 years emanated from Madison Ave in the form of the 30 second spot.   

    You are spot on about the power of video for marketers; the appetite for online video is ravenous and growing.   The challenge for brands is how to satisfy that demand efficiently (e.g. how to scale the production of engaging content.)

    For instance, look at the online work Toyota did for their Autobiography campaign where they encouraged (& incentivized on a low level) Toyota owners to tell a story about their Toyota using text, photos and/or video. Tens of thousands of owners did so and created a wealth of positive content and buzz around the brand.

    (Another parallel example using images is the Canon Imagination campaign on YouTube (youtube.com/imagination) where thousands of consumer photos we submitted, viewed and shared in a bid to help Ron Howard create a short film.) 

    I think what you are dancing around is the ability of brands to inspire the creation of video content through example, contests or other ways and to curate that UGC to produce high levels consumer engagement (contributing, viewing, &, most importantly, sharing).  The online savvy brands like Red Bull get it and are leading the way as marketers continue to shift $$$ and attention to the online video.

  • START CUT

    Although the points have been rehashed elsewhere, the article is very well written and I commend you for that. The point about multiple points of dissemination is critical specifically because YouTube has so much video loaded onto it its harde to get exposure unless you promote very well. At, startcut.com, we allow you to take your nd load it onto 20 networks free, whether that be in your channel or another channel.

  • @iamjonhorton

    Visual storytellers have to come from experience. With so many businesses thinking that "video" can be done by an entry level or even an intern, you have to examine the cost vs. price model.
    Anyone can be a producer. Knowing how to craft the right words, pictures and music makes one a storyteller.
    We are out here, if the term overqualified can become a thing not used so much. Storytellers live to tell stories better, and even better the next time.
    #rethinkimpossible

  • Brentherron100

    Apps such as Tout, Viddy and SocialCam also deserve a mention in this space.  Tout especially (seeing as you can embed video players, "widgets" onto your own/site and blog and automatically upload your content onto them). Nice piece!

  • TechFrog  Jim Alden

    Still trying to figure out how this article has anything to do with the classic film Cinema Paradiso which the picture is from. That movie is a full length motion picture and simply has nothing to do with this article. 

  • Beelzebubby

     Uhmm???? cos he looks like he watching a video and is emotionally absorbed by the story he's watching.