All Video May Not Be The Answer For Some Publishers

  • July 29, 2016

All Video May Not Be The Answer For Some Publishers by Ittai Shiu

There has been a lot of buzz lately around video content in the publishing world. Some of the biggest publishers are either predicting or pushing for all video content in just a few years.

For example, Tronc, formerly known as Tribune, revealed plans for its all video future just a few weeks ago. Even Facebook expects its content to be mostly video, if not all, in the next five years.

The force behind this video content rush is clearly a desire for driving business and revenue. Video ads provide publishers with much more money than display and other forms of digital advertising that accompany text content. But at what cost does ad profitability take precedence over consumer experience? Is this all-video future something consumers want? And if publishers do go this route, what other business challenges may arise from a push to all video?

The customer is always right

All this conversation about strategy and profit sometimes loses sight of what should be of the utmost importance to both advertisers and publishers: the user experience.

recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that over 40% of those surveyed prefer reading the news rather than watching news videos.

Given these statistics, news publishers like Tronc might alienate a huge chunk of readers by obliging them to follow on this all-video path. If readers refuse to get on board, they’re not the ones at a loss. There are so many news outlets and publishers online providing well-reported textual content that those who strive toward all video might lose out.

New competition

Other publishers willing to maintain and share their textual-based news are not the only competitors for Tronc and others who are betting on an all video future.

When switching over to the new format, these publishers will be competing with other online and offline video content, especially, local TV news stations.

The brands behind Tronc including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times are all in the business of local news, and this market is certainly full of TV networks already garnering in millions of views. By striving toward all-video content, publishers could actually be hindered as readership and video impressions decline.

The juxtaposition of local TV news vs local news publishers raises the question of the type of video content publishers will pursue. For example, will hard news on topics like local politics, crime and education be delivered via a video format or will the videos be mainly developed for feature news like travel and hospitality?

Since people still seem to prefer reading news, videos in lieu of restaurant and hotel reviews, DIY and cooking segments might be more appealing.

The business side of video

Consumer experience aside, the business side of video is an important consideration for publishers.

Subscription-based models where consumers pay to access news videos is tricky as the paywalls have been known to deter users, and make it hard to compete with the abundance of on-air and online local TV news video content available.

There are also in-video advertising options. Publishers like Tronc could choose to get creative and start producing interactive ads popular on Facebook and Instagram. Studies have shown that interactive video ads garner more viewer engagement. Other options include pre-roll and other types of more standard video ads.

But might this proliferation of in-video ads cause consumers to adopt ad blockers on a larger scale?

Studies looking at motivating factors behind ad-blocking have found roughly 40-60% of respondents citing pre-roll ads as their reason for using ad blockers. Publishers relying on this model as their main business strategy may end up alienating consumers even more and setting in motion a difficult path to recovery.

Yet another option for video publishers are opt-in video ads, which users generally find more palatable. Viewers feel like they have some control over their experience with opt-in ads and don’t have the sense of being bombarded and encroached as they do with pre-roll.

Video is a fascinating medium that is transforming the way people communicate and consume content. However, publishers must critically examine user experience and the business strategy behind its adoption before making the leap to ensure they land on higher ground.