By Mary Kay Evans, Chief Marketing Officer
Online video may have finally reached a tipping point. The statistics are staggering. For young people, online viewing has already outstripped traditional television viewing, with 61% of 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. reporting that they predominantly watch video online. Meanwhile, Cisco estimates that by 2021, more than 5 million years of video will cross global IP networks each month.
With great power comes great monetization. Digital ad spending among major brands has increased by 53% over the past two years. Advertisers and telecoms alike continue to search for the holy grail of disruptive technology that will create highly clickable, personalized video to turn those millions of years of content into billions of dollars in ad revenue.
While the race is still on, this year has seen notable trends come down the pipeline—notably, the integration of shopping into the viewing experience. From shoppable video to augmented reality (AR) eCommerce, today's online video landscape is blurring the boundaries between traditional categories to become more sticky – and more profitable – than ever.
While several companies have run shoppable video campaigns in the past, 2018 is the year that this innovative practice has come into its own. Shoppable video allows watchers to purchase objects featured in videos through clickable "hotspots" that direct users toward the item's page or add objects directly to a virtual shopping cart.
The unveiling of eCommerce tools on increasingly video-oriented social networking apps has made shoppable video easier to use, more interactive, and more social than ever before. With 85% of consumers expressing that they'd prefer more video advertising, shoppable videos promise higher conversion rates and increased customer satisfaction compared to traditional video advertisements.
Shoppable video is being incorporated into OTT platforms, too. Features like Hulu's shoppable previews allow at-home viewers to purchase movie tickets with their remotes, a practical tool that converts enthusiasm over movie trailers ("We're going to see that!") into instant sales. As the technology keeps developing, we look forward to seeing more interactive ads and shoppability integrated into viewers' favorite feature films and series on OTT platforms.
AR shopping apps have been around for a while, particularly for big furniture brands trying to help customers solve the age-old question of how, exactly, that lime-green couch will look in their living rooms. But in 2018, AR eCommerce is coming into its own in a big way. With several major social-networking sites recently launching AR ads, we have yet another reason to bet that video tools will become the new brick-and-mortar shopping experience.
Though newspaper headlines would have you believe that brick-and-mortar retail is dying, almost a third of customers today still prefer to shop in physical stores. Why? In part, because they get to touch and try out the merchandise before buying. Even if an eCommerce storefront provides very detailed information about a particular shirt or pair of pants, it is difficult to know exactly how it will fit until it arrives in the mail.
AR eCommerce promises to solve that problem by providing a way to virtually "try on" purchases, allowing users to impose an image of the garment over their bodies on live video or impose the color of an advertised dye onto their hair. AR commerce seamlessly blends video and eCommerce experiences and makes online shopping more interactive by leveraging a tool that many social media users are already using for fun. Add to this the rise of voice-command and in-app eCommerce, and you've got a truly integrated video/eCommerce experience.
AR has yet to be widely adapted for OTT streaming, but the possibilities are immense. Sports broadcasters are looking toward AR and "mixed reality" to provide interactive sports viewing experiences. Meanwhile, the launch of longer-form content capabilities in popular social platforms signals that AR technology, social viewing experiences, and eCommerce are growing closer together. This means that broadcasters already in on the OTT content game can leverage their know-how to integrate AR into longer-form viewing experiences.
With disruption the only constant, today's online landscape requires that we think outside the boundaries of traditional media. We've predicted previously that entertainment, advertising, and social content will soon combine to create seamless, and highly monetizable, new online experiences. This year's trends point toward a future dominated by such all-in-one platforms, where users can watch video, shop and chat with friends all in one place. OTT providers, take note: it's time to prepare for the highly integrated future of media.
See how we're delivering the future of media for video lovers around the world. Schedule a meeting with us at IBC.