Our Addiction to Videos

Online videos have been around since as early as 19931. With the founding of Youtube in 2005, the medium has only grown at an exponential rate. With new content created at every moment, it is impossible to say how many videos exist online today. Will videos continue to thrive? Will digital innovations continue to hinge on video technology? We’d like to explore these question in this article and offer our perspective.

One thing is certain: online videos are here to stay. An oft-cited Cisco white paper even predicts that by 2020, video traffic will account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic2.

We don’t need statistics to know how emotionally affective videos can be. Try recalling an advertisement that you’ve seen in the past month. Chances are – if you’re a millennial – this advertisement would be in a video format, and you would’ve seen it on a social media website.

The human brain is hardwired to prefer visual and auditory information. And videos are the richest source of that – until now.

We explore these developments, and consider how they may affect us in the coming years.

360 Videos

360 videos can be panned in all directions. As this is a relatively new feature for many websites, part of the appeal surrounding this format has to do with novelty. Currently, 360 videos outperform traditional videos on several counts: they tend to generate higher completion rates, higher click-through rates, and lower cost per impression3.

Our current obsession with 360 videos has a rich historical basis. The concept behind 360 videos revolves around providing an all-around view of fictional surroundings, which, in short, describes the panorama. And panoramic paintings are nothing new: They have existed from as far back as the 12th Century Song Dynasty4.  A more recent example can be found in the 18th century panoramic installations at Leicester Square5.

360 videos are, in a sense, panoramic images that move. Currently, the format is supported on Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, and a handful of other websites. 360 videos can also be embedded in your web page through Google VR View, with potentially stunning visual results. Google’s Cultural Institute, for example, has launched a series of 360 videos that allow viewers to watch ballets, operas, and orchestras from the center of the stage6 – a perspective which opens up an entirely different viewing experience for audiences.

What this means for your business: 360 Videos are applicable to you if your business relies on the visual. And even if it doesn’t, you can still think of innovative ways to use it. Give a 360 video tour of your business space, demonstrate your product in an innovative way, record and stream a roundtable discussion, make a comedy sketch – The possibilities are endless!

Virtual Reality

A decade ago, most people might have associated virtual reality (VR) technology with games like The Sims, or Second Life. But ask tech-savvy youngsters nowadays, and their first response would probably be Oculus Rift, or Playstation VR, both of which are VR systems developed by Oculus (owned by Facebook) and Sony respectively.

VR, as we understand it now, shares certain similarities with 360 videos. For one, there is the freedom to “look about”, but without the hassle of clicking and panning. Eye-tracking technology allows mouse-free interaction with the virtual environment. Some VR systems also allow users to “grab” things by wearing wired gloves, or walk around their physical space to explore the virtual setting.

What most people are not aware of is the potentials that VR holds for improving our quality of online interaction. The ambitions of the social media mogul, Mark Zuckerberg, seems to lie predominantly in this direction: Zuckerberg envisions VR as a socializing tool that simulates physical closeness, despite the actual spaces that may separate people. Through VR’s capacity for interactivity, two people can meet in a virtual space and share a very much real and lived experience. It may even teach us a thing or two about empathy7. If Zuckerberg succeeds in integrating VR with his social media empire8, then the technology could prove to be revolutionary to the way we socialise.

In the meantime, there are numerous challenges standing in the way of realising these dreams. Just like 360 cameras, there is a large price range for VR systems. Oculus has already invested $250 million into VR development as of late 2016, and it has pledged an additional $250 million. The technological arms race is on yet again. But this time, it promises to bring tangible benefits to us.

What this means for your business: Predictions at this stage are largely speculative. But if Zuckerberg’s grand visions offer us any guidance, then VR can stand to revolutionisethe way businesses think about marketing.

Live Videos

Live streaming was introduced Facebook users in April 2016, accompanied by algorithm tweaks that prioritise live content over others11. Zuckerberg’s preference for live video content is well-founded: Live videos are versatile in application, and they are often well-liked by viewers. Currently, Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, and Twitter are some of the major platforms which support live streaming. The competition for users is stiff.

Live videos allow a two-way synchronicity that engages both parties in active participation. A certain video of a woman in a Chewbacca mask, laughing away heartily in her car, managed to garner more than 170 million views ever since it was streamed live on Facebook. While part of its popularity has to do with the viral factor, another reason this video stood out can be attributed to how candid it was. Perhaps the video description sums it up best – “it’s the simple joys in life”.

Live videos are easy to setup and stream. You don’t need a video editor, a producer, or even a scriptwriter. While some are wary of the unpredictability involved in live streaming, this unpredictability, on the flip side, allows for freedom of improvisation. This can be represent you or the company you represent, a personable image.

While using videos to build business credibility is nothing new, we’d wager to say that live videos can achieve the same aims – and more.

What this means for your business: Live videos tap on fundamental desires for human connection. Companies can use this to display the human side of their operations to customers.

The Bottom Line

Digital technology changes at a breakneck pace. But one thing is certain – videos are here to stay, and their significance will only increase by the day.

For businesses, video acts as an effective tool for creating value in the form of increasing brand awareness, generating conversions, and driving online sales12.

A good marketing strategy for businesses to take, right now, is to incentivize their customers to make video testimonials, user demonstrations, unboxing videos, etc. All these contribute to building a sense of community and heightening the perception of trustworthiness towards the company.

With regards to emerging technologies like VR, it is still too early to say what is in store for businesses at this point.

But for the time being, the drive to optimize this technology is strong, and it seems that the uptake of VR technology will only increase with time. It’s probably safe to say that when VR becomes sufficiently popular, businesses will have to jump onto the VR bandwagon too, or risk being left behind.

Chao Quan Choo

Chao Quan Choo

UI Designer at OFFEO