Online video is in its’ infancy and is about to become a much more important tool in the marketing mix tool kit for businesses.
If you haven’t read Part 1 to this article, read it first as it will give a good foundation for this piece.
It’s needless to say that camera equipment and editing software is getting cheaper and better. This trend will allow many more people to become expert videographers thus raising the bar on quality for the whole industry, which will continue to build consumer habits around consuming video more and more. The opportunity to drive business with video will increase dramatically. At the same time, competition will increase due the drop in barriers of entry. As a result, businesses will have to find new points of differentiation beyond merely producing professional quality video.
I don’t think you can truly understand the future of online video without understanding how the industry tools are changing so stay with me while I break it all down. If you don’t want the details and just want the takeaway insights, skip to the section called: “So What Does all This Mean?”
Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, iMovie
Final Cut Pro and Abobe Premier Pro are the two industry standards for video editing and each used to only be accessible by professionals because they were very expensive and had a steep learning curve. Apple has recently reduced their program to a few hundred dollars from a few thousand and made it extremely user friendly by comparison.
Adobe has built an ever-growing learning hub with instructional videos, training, certifications and a robust community enabling consumers to learn how to use their products making it easier for many more people to learn how to use these professional level tools. Both companies have a big interest in making their software programs functional enough for the pros, but easy enough for the novices.
If someone learns one of them, they’ll likely stick with it for life.
iMovie and the ubiquitous free windows versions of basic video editing software allow anyone with a computer to be able to create compelling video. This alone allows the average college student to become a multimedia producer and that gives them potential. The now famous social media entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Gary Vaynerchuck started his media empire with his video blog and edited it with iMovie. Now he consults for Disney.
We can see a parallel to this shift to make software more user-friendly with word processing. Initially, someone needed to almost be a programmer to be able to type out a paper and use the “basic” features. Now, it is something that everyone has on every computer and everyone knows how to use it at least on a basic level. In the near future, video editing will become as common and easy to use as word processing is today.
You can see some early and basic examples with programs such as Animoto that enables people to drag and drop a presentable video together and add music. Another is the iMovie app enabling iPhone users to do basic video editing on their phone.
Cameras Today Produce Directors Tomorrow
The difference between professional videographers and hobbyists used to be massive, but that gap is shrinking fast. All of the major camera manufacturers have started producing SLR (traditionally only for still photos) cameras that have very good video. Without going into the mechanical details (i.e. manual controls, large censor sizes, multiple lenses), the quality of video that can be shot with these SLRs is at a professional level, much better than any comparable handy-cam and much cheaper than the previous generation’s high quality video cameras.
As a result, the cost of cameras that can exceed the quality that the web can distribute it at is quite low.
Instagram for Video
Many professional photographers use sets of pre-made filters when editing so all of their photos can be edited more quickly, ensure high quality photos are consistently produced, and allows the photographer to have a consistent, branded style. The mobile photo editing app, Instagram took this concept and simplified it even more to allow users to do this in a few seconds on their phone.
Soon I expect that this will be applied to video. Adding occasional blurring, a sepia filter, or other warming tones easily can dramatically enhance the quality of a video without much effort. You’ll be able to shoot it, choose a theme or style like you can on Instagram and then publish it.
To take it to the next level, you’ll see the ability to have video editing programs start to be able to cut and splice video together automatically too. We see tools today such as Speechpad that can transcribe videos into text. This could allow a program to automatically cut out fluff that doesn’t have someone talking in it and input transitions in between clips. Another element could include the face-recognition technology that Apple has built into iMovie by highlighting one particular person in a whole set of video clips.
Another trend you’ll start to see is the same trend that website development has gone; templates galore. In the old days, you couldn’t put up a website without doing some hard-core programming, but that has changed with development of web templates.
You will still need programmers to build something custom, as you will still need video editors for custom videos. However, for many people, being able to drag and drop rough-cut clips into an order and let the program do the rest is really attractive. I built my digital marketing video blog with a website theme I bought for $30 from a site called Theme Forest. They sell themes for as little as $1 and there are tons of free themes online for all the major website/blog platforms such as WordPress.
All this allows me to put up a high quality HTML 5 website for a tiny fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the amount of time it would take to go to a developer to build me a custom site from the ground up. The vast majority of websites are now built on templates. Even developers able to build a site from scratch will now start with a template that is close to what they’re looking for and then add little customizations here and there to save a ton of time and effort.
Soon, the vast majority of videos will be produced with some sort of template structure, which will drive the cost down, the production turn-a-round time down, and increase the accessibility for small and unsophisticated companies to utilize video to communicate with their customers. Larger, more sophisticated companies will be able to save some money and produce a larger quantity of footage for the same amount of resources.
Video + Search = Opportunity
The speech recognition technology utilized by Speechpad will soon be used to better index videos for search.
Today, I often use Speechpad to translate what I’m saying on my video blog so I can place it below each video, allowing Google (and other search engines) to better know what that page is all about. Tomorrow, Google will be able to scan everything I’m saying for key words whether I add a transcript below or not.
So What Does all This Mean?
These changes in technology will lead to a whole generation of people that will grow up with the ability to produce video that is good enough and engaging enough to spread ideas effectively.
Malcolm Gladwell describes a concept that could be called “10,000 hours” in his book called Outliers. Simply put, he explains that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to become a true expert at it. One of his central points was that logging in extra hours is oftentimes more beneficial to success than possessing raw intelligence or innate ability.
He goes on to argue that Bill Gates succeeded because he was very smart, but he also succeeded because he spent many thousands of hours programming in an emerging field. He had become an expert programmer by the time he went to college because he was lucky enough to have had access to a computer and driven enough to live on it. Just as Bill Gates had access to that computer, millions of people now have access to equipment to shoot and edit video that will allow them to start logging their 10,000 hours; as hobbyists at first, but many will also get introduced, grow to love it and then become professionals.
These people will get jobs in every industry out there and factor in how online video could be a solution to their organization’s problems. After all, for groups needing to communicate to their constituents, customers, and stakeholders, video is by far one of the most engaging and effective mediums to use.
All of this innovation and talent will drive the production cost of video down, the quality up, motivate many more companies to utilize it, and begin to set consumer expectations to be communicated to through video more. In addition, product and device companies will give consumers more and better ways to consume this media which will in turn encourage them even more to expect it from brands.
As a result, companies not communicating through online video will begin to lose their share of voice. It will almost be like a company not having a Facebook page today. Consumers now expect companies to be on social channels. If they aren’t, they lose credibility and a valuable opportunity to speak to their customers.
The last important take away, is to put far more effort into strategizing what will differentiate you from your competitors and the rest of the noise in the online video world. The falling barriers of entry into this realm will cause an ever-growing flood of higher and higher quality video the way that the simplification and distribution of Microsoft Word has enabled traditional blogging to spread.
Producing quality content is still critical, but production quality is a shrinking differentiator with all of these developments. As I explain more in my video blog post about niche marketing versus mass marketing, I recommend finding a niche and becoming extraordinarily relevant to that niche.
Listen to me speak on 7 Social Media Trends on November 27th in San Diego.