I’ve been asked to make a few predictions about the future of video. As Yogi Berra might have said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
The first is: When you’re asked to make predictions, just say, “Thank you for making this day necessary.” And the second is: When you get around to making those predictions, remember, “If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.”
So, with that clearly understood, let’s look at a couple of the video marketing trends that we can expect to see in 2012.
“Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.”
According to comScore Video Metrix, 184 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in October 2011 for an average of 21.1 hours per viewer. A year earlier, comScore reported that 175 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in October 2010 for an average of 15.1 hours per viewer.
So, it’s safe to predict that up to 5.1 percent more Americans will be spending close to 39.7 percent more time watching online video content a year from now. That would be about 193 million Americans, who will be watching roughly 29.4 hours per viewer in October 2012. Hey, it will be an election year.
In addition, comScore reported that Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in October 2011 with 161 million unique viewers. Google Sites also demonstrated the highest engagement with 7.1 hours per viewer.
A year earlier, comScore reported that Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in October 2010 with 146.3 million unique viewers. Google Sites also had the highest average time spent per viewer at 4.5 hours back then.
So, I think it’s safe to predict that no other online video content property will be ranked No. 1 a year from now. But, will comScore still be referring to the top property as Google Sites?
YouTube.com already represents more than 99 percent of video viewing at Google Sites, while Google Videos represents less than 1 percent. And, “YouTube” is now featured in the new drop-down menu on Google, while “Videos” is now hidden under the “More” option.
So, I expect to see YouTube’s share of video viewing at Google Sites to rise up to 99.9 percent over the next year, while the share of Google Videos will wither away to 0.1 percent. As President Barack Obama would say, “This is not class warfare; it’s math.”
“It's déjà vu all over again"
Back in August 2009, Yossi Matias, Niv Efron, and Yair Shimshoni of Google Labs, Israel, posted a paper entitled On the Predictability of Search Trends. Their paper included the following observations:
- Over half of the most popular Google search queries are predictable in a 12 month ahead forecast.
- Nearly half of the most popular queries are not predictable.
Based on the findings in this paper, Google introduced a forecasting feature in Insights for Search. For example, add the search term, snow, and you’ll see that web search interest in the United States is forecast to spike in February 2012 and again in December 2012.
Now, monthly search term volumes in YouTube are often different than the number of local monthly searches on Google. But, in a post entitled, “How Soon Till Spring? ,” Kevin Allocca, YouTube Trends manager, observed, “According to YouTube data, searches for ‘snow’ videos generally peak in December, which could mean that while we like to take in the winter weather when it first arrives, we are not excited about looking at more if it after the holidays.”
So, what other search trends are we able to predict for the coming year? Well, Google Insights for Search forecasts that web search interest in April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Christmas will spike in the United States on those holidays in 2012.
This means video marketers can start planning now to create what the YouTube Creator Playbook, which compiles important tips, best practices, and strategies to build greater audiences on YouTube, calls “tent-pole programming.” In other words, they can plan to create and release content themed around tent-pole events like these holidays.
“It ain't over 'till it's over.”
Of course, there are a lot of things that I can’t predict. These include if or when YouTube will roll out any of the recipes and concoctions that its engineers and developers are working on in TestTube, its ideas incubator.
One that I’m hoping will make it soon is Insights for Audience, which helps you discover what different audiences like doing on YouTube.
Another thing that is hard to predict is which of the 100 new original channels that have already started to appear on YouTube will go on to be successful in 2012. Many in the mainstream media are betting that it will be the channels created by well-known personalities and content producers.
But I’ll bet that it will be the channels created by some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies as well as some of YouTube’s own existing partners. They don’t need to read the YouTube Creator Playbook. In many cases, they created the plays.
Nevertheless, 30 years ago, when cable television expanded our viewing possibilities from just a handful of channels to hundreds, few predicted that MTV, ESPN and CNN would go on to bring us some of the most defining media experiences of the last few decades.
So, whether Yogi Berra said it or not, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.