Media: All About Short-form videos

Yahoo!'s James Wildman on the growth and potential of online video.

In 1968, the pop-artist and film-maker Andy Warhol said: "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." We are not quite there yet, but the explosion of short-form (less than five-minute) videos online has revolutionised the immediacy, distribution and content of video transmissions. Along the way, it has created a few world-famous faces - some for a little longer than Warhol's predicted 15 minutes.

The numbers around short videos are astounding. In the UK, 25 million (68 per cent of people online) are now watching short clips every month, adding up to some four billion views a month. According to Comscore, the number of online video views has grown by 259 per cent in the past three years.

This has created a major opportunity for advertisers. Online video advertising grew by 80 per cent last year, and this particular platform is set to grow even further.

However, not all videos online need or should be ad-supported. To measure the state of the short-form video market and assess the opportunities for advertisers, Yahoo! has conducted extensive research, called Shortcast, to discover how online users engage with short-form video content, what users expect from it, and how advertisers can best deliver branding experiences online.

1Online short-form video, much like TV, is a genre-led industry. Sport, news, film clips, music and comedy are the main categories and therefore the areas advertisers should engage with.

The desktop computer is where most people watch online videos, typically at the beginning of the day. Viewing is split between news, sport and TV catch-up sites.

Laptops are most used to watch video later in the day (7-10pm) and the majority of people stumble upon videos during general browsing. Mobiles are typically used for consuming online video at the start of the day or later at night - usually while the consumer is in bed.

Emerging tablet behaviours appear to be more like high-end lifestyle magazine consumption, with a richer and engaging experience around audiovisual content, Early indicators are that dwell times for key genres linked to hobbies/niche subjects are much higher on tablets than on PCs or laptops.

Viewers are more likely to watch longer pieces of content online at home, when they have more time and are in a relaxed environment.

2The greatest opportunity for advertisers lies with short-form content that is both consumer and commercial-friendly (this means videos that match consumer demand by being innovative, well made and relevant, and having commercial qualities such as high production standards).

The level of advertising acceptance is key. Viewers are prepared to watch advertising ahead of a quality clip on a trusted, branded site. They expect it. Elsewhere, they will be less accepting.

A key number for advertisers is 22 seconds. That is the length of time consumers believe is optimal for an ad played before the video selected - much like a 30-second TV spot.

And what's even more exciting is that while push advertising should be about 22 seconds, there is a greater opportunity to engage with consumers with pull advertising lasting around two minutes - four times the average TV spot length. Consumers actively seek out compelling advertising online.

In fact, digital video advertising has many similarities to TV advertising. We see online as working with TV rather than against. TV advertising, after suffering during the recession, is once again growing. Brands, more than ever, have opportunities to connect and engage consumers through TV and online.

3Today, video is a common component of the browsing experience. But by 2015, three-quarters of people expect they will be able to view online video anywhere, anytime thanks to advances in technology.

Online video will develop many of the same benefits as TV - for example, 3D content. And with video, as with all online advertising, advertisers can go beyond what TV offers because it can target an audience - targeted video advertising is likely to be the reality before long.

It is clear that media owners see the opportunity with short-form video and are investing in content and platforms accordingly. This will increase the opportunity for advertisers to deliver their campaigns across a new, growing and highly engaging space.

James Wildman is the UK managing director at Yahoo!


- For advertisers considering short-form video content, it's worth noting the disparity in advertising environments between user-generated and professionally produced short-form video. YouTube is viewed by 80 per cent of those who consume short clips, but the majority of videos could be deemed unsuitable for in-stream advertising.

- However, it is possible to hit a similar reach of viewers who are arguably more engaged via commercial publishers such as ITV, The Guardian and Yahoo!, who have their own video portfolios. These, along with several of the other key sites, reach a combined 77 per cent of viewers - a comparable figure to YouTube's 80 per cent reach and one that presents a great commercial opportunity for media owners to invest in video and reap advertising revenue.

- Advertisers have the opportunity to benefit from the ever-changing technology landscape: 3D technology and tablets will allow for video experiences to be more engaging than ever before, and targeting (providing advertising that is personally relevant to consumers) is only set to get better in the future.

- Lastly, there is another advantage with video online that will benefit advertisers: with a variety of computers, tablets and mobile devices, unlike video in cinema and TV, video content is on-demand and always with you. Three-quarters of those we spoke to said they expected online videos to be with them wherever they are by 2015.