The Online Video Invasion

January 23rd, 2014

How mobile videos are taking over the Internet and continuing to expand.

It is the year 2013. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that online video is big, and only getting bigger. The average Internet user views more than 180 YouTube videos a month (totaling 17 percent of U.S. Internet traffic). Netflix, the Internet’s other streaming video favorite, consumes nearly a third (32 percent) of the bandwidth used in the United States. As impressive as it is that YouTube and Netflix make up half of our Internet usage, when you add in all the other players, you hit a staggering 90 percent of Internet traffic is viewing video content.

One of the immediate takeaways from a statistic like this is that people are not only watching a lot of videos, but those videos are likely lengthy, as well. This is actually quite true, with the average YouTube video weighing in between three and four minutes long. With no practical length restriction on YouTube, both publishers and viewers are used to freedom and flexibility. Interestingly, and as a stark differentiator, in 2013, two new hot video services have been introduced. Both impose hard – and quite short – time limits on the videos shared on their services. These two services are Vine and Instagram.

VINE

Vine is a mobile app that allows users to record and share six-second-long looping videos.  Accessible from all major mobile platforms, the Twitter-owned service became highly acclaimed
in early 2013. As of August 2013, the service had 40 million registered users.

Six seconds of video may not seem like much, but Vine’s rapidly expanding user-base is proving to be very creative. Stop motion animation is popular on the service and allows for a surprising amount of expressiveness. Even brands are exploring Vine, including Urban Outfitters, USA Today, GE and Walgreens. Rather than attempt to repackage existing content, they create new content that acts as a supplement to their primary information outlets and other social media properties.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram, the popular and Facebook-owned platform, known for its square and filter-treated photos, rolled out an update this summer that enabled its user-base to upload and share videos. The videos are capped to a maximum length of 15 seconds (perhaps not so coincidentally, 15 seconds is also the standard pre-roll length). Like photos taken via the app, a variety of visual filters can be applied to your video.

With an already-established user-base of 130 million, and potential tie-ins to Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, it makes sense that the incumbent would have the leg up on Vine – which they do. By June 2013, twice as many of the top 100 brands were engaging their users with Instagram video rather than Vine, including Ford, MTV, Disney and GE (it is engaging on both platforms).

The world of Internet video continues to grow. Facebook, for example, is also supposed to roll out a new ad format (a 15-second-long, auto-playing, muted video) for its newsfeed section, meaning we might see easy options for promoting Instagram content as ads, which could also further encourage brands to invest their time and resources into the Facebook ecosystem. But, with both Facebook and Twitter now having a stake in social video sharing, it will be interesting to see how users align themselves when the dust settles. Question is, will your company be there when it does?

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