Sight, Sound And Motion: The Rise Of Digital Video

Sight, Sound And Motion: The Rise Of Digital Video

Baldwin Cunningham ,


I tell the story of marketing & brand innovation with a startup lens

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Video in advertising is nothing new. In the 20th century, television commercials were the most essential tool for brands to connect commerce to pop culture.

At the same time, there is no denying the rapid ascent of digital video in capturing users and advertisers attention. Since launching support for in-feed video in 2014, Facebook has grown to serve more than 8B video views per day. Recently released numbers from Snapchat show the app serving 7B views with under a tenth of the Facebook population. Video made up 64% of consumer internet traffic in 2014, and by 2015, it also made up 55% of mobile internet traffic, with analysts expecting this to rise to 79% by 2018.

These numbers understandably have advertisers in a frenzy. In 2016, eMarketer expects spending of digital video advertising to grow 28.5%. In the clip below, recorded by us at Cannes Lions, former BuzzFeed president and DailyMail North America CEO Jon Steinberg discusses the rise of video and it’s place in the advertising world:

At Partnered, we help brands & agencies across multiple industries adapt their strategies to new technology. If 2015 was a year where brands shifted their attention to innovation and digital agendas, 2016 will be a year when many of those experiments scale – when “pilots” become normalized parts of media spend.


Video is certainly an area where that will play out. That said, “video” in this context actually refers to a number of different things.

Influencer Video

Just like the generations’ before them, today’s young people grew up surrounded by video content. Unlike those previous generations, however, most of that content wasn’t created by professional studios but by talent amateurs (at least they started as amateurs) who understood the unique opportunities and constraints of YouTube as a medium: intimacy, immediacy, simplicity of production, and serialization.
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Brands noticed a little when a 2014 Variety study showed that the 5 most popular celebrities among teens were all YouTubers rather than traditional movie stars. They noticed a lot when they discovered that those stars often had more reach and distribution than entire cable TV channels.

Today, multi-channel networks like Fullscreen and Maker Studios have fully absorbed much of that talent into the mainstream media apparatus, making it easy for advertisers to integrate YouTube stars into their campaigns at scale.

For brands who want to take a more direct, hands-on, and long-tail approach, there are platforms like Famebit. Famebit has more than 25,000 creators with a collective reach of over a billion. Brands can use the company’s software to source and manage multiple creative partners, many of which have large but extremely niche audiences.

Adidas, for example, contracted Jottler Football, a YouTuber that focuses on amazing free kicks and technical soccer tricks, to show off their new smartball. The video below was shot by one person in 3 hours for what is likely a fraction of what it would have cost to shoot a traditional commercial of similar quality.

Crowdsourced video creation for brands isn’t limited to FameBit. Since 2006, MoFilm has helped top independent global filmmakers create amazing content in partnership with big advertisers. The company was recently acquired by You & Mr. Jones, a new firm from the former CEO of Havas, David Jones designed to better connect the brand & technology world.



The hottest new breakout medium at last year’s South By Southwest was mobile livestreaming. While had already showed how big desktop based streaming could be, Meerkat and Periscope exploded on to the scene with the promise of mobile based livestreaming.

A little under a year later, some of the launch hype has dissipated, but mobile livestreaming has quietly become more and more mainstream.

Periscope’s 10m+ users have streamed more than 100m broadcasts to date, and parent company Twitter recently announced that Periscope streams will now autoplay on the social network. Starting with celebrities and verified accounts like brands last year, Facebook has been slowly rolling out livestreaming to its users, even releasing a dedicated app “Mentions” for iOS and Android.

What’s more, CES this year was filled with hardware specifically designed for livestreaming video. One of the most interesting was undefined Livestream’s Movi camera, which allows livestreamers to set presets for 9 different virtual angles that they can switch between live as they’re filming, effectively allowing them to edit on the fly.

What ultimately makes livestreaming so different from other types of video mediums is that the audience gets to be involved in “what happens next.” Viewers and commenters can actually help shape the trajectory of the broadcast, enabling new creative opportunities for streamers and the brands working with them.

Virtual Reality & 360-Degree Video

The other category of video rapidly capturing advertisers attention is virtual reality and 360-degree video. 2016 seems poised to be a breakout year for VR two reasons:

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First, there will finally be a spectrum of accessible, quality consumer devices. On the low end of the price spectrum is Samsung’s Gear VR, the first mainstream VR viewer to retail for under $100. On the other end is the Oculus Rift, which after three years of waiting is finally coming early this year for $599.[/entity]

The second reason is that there is starting to be a critical mass of VR video producers. Agencies are reworking their capacities to be able to create VR content, publishers are trying to build a name for themselves by having native VR capacities, and the first examples of branded VR content are hitting the pages of AdWeek, AdAge etc.

Emotional Measurement

It’s not just new mediums where digital video is innovating, but new approaches to measurement. Part of the reason advertisers love video is that it can provoke more emotions than other mediums. Companies like video amplication platform Virool are offering advertisers facial mapping tools that can actually track viewers’ emotional response to videos in real time. Virool’s emotional measurement technology is being powered by Realeyes, who just announced a major deal with MediaCom.

Video has clearly broken out of the silo of “innovation” budgets into mainstream consideration for marketers. The reason goes back to what Steinberg says above — that “creativity is enduring.” Since the days of black and white screens and TV dinners, moving pictures have been one of the best mediums for creativity and the digital age is simply augmenting that.

For more on how emerging technology is transforming marketing & commerce, or to connect with today’s most dynamic startups, visit Partnered online.

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