By 2020, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second (Cisco Visual Networking Index, 2015-2020). That’s a tsunami wave of video content that we are already splashing around in. We stream Netflix, Snapchat in real-time, and experiment with Facebook Live. Feeds are filled with viral videos, bite-size recaps of major events, and more. Video is everywhere, but online video is more than just an “exciting” trend. It’s a titan in the digital space, and it will only become more popular. According to Cisco, globally, IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70% in 2015.

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With all that video streaming on devices and platforms, there are more opportunities than ever to reach your audience. So, are you in the game? Does your content strategy consider video? If it doesn’t, you might be in trouble. Here’s why online video is here to stay.

Online Video On the Rise

If there were ever a time for video to shine, it’s today. Compared to the early days of YouTube, literally everything is better: the resolution, the streaming services (no more choppy streams), and the distribution platforms. You can watch on Apple TV, look up a video on YouTube, and Snapchat from your phone simultaneously. Mobile has had a particularly notable effect on online video, providing easy access from anywhere.

Consider YouTube’s reach alone. It has more than a billion users—that’s almost a third of all people on the Internet, according to the company. Not only does YouTube have a massive amount of users, the advent of mobile has increased engagement tremendously. On mobile, the average YouTube viewing session is now more than 40 minutes. Let that sink in: a 40-minute session.

Facebook, the other billion-user platform (1.65 billion monthly active users, to be exact) has also seen an explosion in video that rivals YouTube. According to Q4 2015 earnings, the social network logs 100 million hours of daily video watch time.

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If you’re wondering what your consumers are doing, they’re probably watching a video right now. These staggering numbers are mind-boggling, and they convey a clear message: Video provides a tremendous opportunity to engage. If your brand hasn’t been exploring video—or, worse, has been ignoring it completely—may I recommend pressing play?

Consumers Connected to Online Video

There’s a reason we tend to go down the rabbit hole of video on the Internet. It’s easily accessible, our brains love visual content, and there is more content to consume than ever. When done well, online video captures an audience’s attention with a great narrative and enticing visuals. (Seriously, those 30-second recipes are totally hypnotic.)

When it comes to brand interactions, it’s no different. Consumers want to communicate with brands on the platforms they frequent, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, and at any time. Major brands have taken notice. Hence, we’ve seen the rise of Red Bull TV, which live-streams content, and Pepsi’s new Creators League, a content arm that will produce everything from online video content to full-on movies.

I’m sure you yourself can attest to the power of video, as you’ve probably been lured in by an autoplay video in your Facebook feed. Note, too, that video has become such a popular medium, we are seeing changes to how it’s presented online. Surely you’ve noticed the videos that don’t even require sound, relying only on subtitles and music to deliver the story. Those videos are a great example of savvy content creators delivering content where consumers are at—even if that’s in a cubicle where an unexpected video sound might out you for being on social media at work.

And don’t forget that online video is a round-the-clock machine. Your business might be closed on weekends, but your consumers are still connected.

According to Yume research, “more people watch short-form video clips on their mobile devices on weekends than on weekdays.” Additionally, “while slightly higher among high-income users, there is no significant difference in paid video usage across income classes.” In short: Everyone is watching, always.

How Consumers Relate to Brands’ Online Videos

When it comes to brand videos, not only do consumers crave it, sometimes they prefer it. Levels Beyond conducted a survey of 1,000 people in the U.S. The results offer some food for thought for your content strategy.

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Who’s watching brand videos? It’s no surprise that Millennials are the majority. That said, Baby Boomers also engage with video.

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Considering that Millennials drive video consumption, it’s vital to reach them via their preferred channels (think Vine, Snapchat, Instagram) and with the right type of online video content. Just hitting record on a camera does not mean your brand video will be enticing. Consumers want content that speaks to them and provides value in some way. Generally, they want video that falls into one of three categories (ideally all): engaging, informative, and entertaining.

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Some video types fare better than others. Do not underestimate the value of video, particularly when it comes to your owned properties. Note: 40% of consumers said they would rather watch video over reading the same information from a brand; 59% watch a brand video when they visit a website. The survey also showed that certain content is particularly popular in video format, such as tutorials. (This is a reason explainer videos are particularly helpful.) And in general, consumers prefer comedic or instructional brand videos over interviews, testimonials, or product advertising.

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Of course, producing brand videos is one thing; distributing them is another. Again, the survey highlights the value of embracing video on social platforms.

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It’s obvious that consumers crave this type of brand content, but why are some brands hesitant to invest? Of course, it all comes down to ROI. Online video is a heavier investment, but studies show it provides significant value.

The Value of Online Video

Even if it is not the core component or your most trafficked piece of content, video is still a worthy component of a content strategy. Consider this:

In 2014 Facebook studied the efficacy of incorporating video into an advertiser’s online campaign. To do so, they tested various combinations of both static and video ads, showing the test group the ads in three different sequencing combinations:

  • A video ad, then a static ad
  • A static ad, then a video ad
  • A static ad, then a second static ad

When compared against the control group, there were notable results:

  • A video ad, then a static ad increased conversions 31%.
  • A static ad, then a video ad sent more visitors to the advertiser’s site than the control group.
  • A static ad, then a second static ad increased traffic to the advertiser’s site 75%.
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While traffic is good, conversions are great. I think you’d agree. But, you say, what about shrinking attention spans? Oversaturation in the marketplace? These are valid. But even if your audience doesn’t sit through your entire video, having that touchpoint—if only for a few seconds—leaves an impression.

EVEN A SECOND OF ONLINE VIDEO HELPS YOUR BRAND

In 2015, Facebook commissioned a Nielsen study to find out just how much effect video had on three core metrics: ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration. They compared a control group to test groups, determined by the duration of the video watched. The results of that study—clickbait aside—really are shocking.

“Results show that from the moment a video ad was viewed (even before one second), lift happened across ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration. That means even people who never watched the video, but did see the impression, were still impacted by the ad. And, as expected, lift increased the longer people watch the ad,” Facebook says.

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Even more impressive is that, after estimating total campaign value according to duration of the video watched, we see a significant portion of campaign value generated. Even if a consumer watches a video for under 10 seconds, the video still helps increase brand awareness and purchase intent.

According to the Levels Beyond survey, 73% of marketers judge video success by views, but it may be time to rethink those metrics. Sure, every brand wants a viral hit (see how we produced Microsoft’s viral Child of the ‘90s spot), but video is more than a one-shot game. Shares, comments, likes, and even—as we see—a 3-second impression can contribute to a campaign’s overall value.

So, where do you start? How do you get the most value and create the right video for your goals? These are the exciting questions we’d be happy to help you answer.

Have your brand experimented with online video? Comment and tell us about how it worked for you.