Social media should have seen this coming.
The world has been enthralled with the moving picture ever since it was first presented by Thomas Edison in 1889 (ironically it can be viewed on YouTube). It stands to reason that the appetite for video on social media would be too much for just one, albeit huge, platform to handle.
While not the first platform dedicated to video sharing (a long-forgotten and no defunct shareyourworld.com launched in 1997), YouTube became nearly the only video counterpart to its fellow giants, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and still continues to post impressive numbers.
- YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable TV network
- 81 percent of millennials use YouTube; the same percentage as internet users age 14-17
- 43 percent of baby boomers use YouTube, second only to cable television
With the Google mothership to assist, it’s been dubbed the “Grandfather of Video Sharing” and rests comfortably alongside the “Big 3” of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for users, and has held that place for all of its 10 years of existence.
Room at the Top, or Cause for Worry?
However, it’s only been in recent years that the interest in video, beyond the short-form that YouTube has championed, has caused competitors to arise. Facebook has most recently gone head-to-head against YouTube’s mainstays of embeddable videos and the short-form format.
In 2014, the autoplay feature added to Facebook catapulted the number of video views from 1 billion per day in its first three months, to a reported 8 billion in November 2015, generating 760 years of watch time each day. While this may be the closest thing to competition YouTube has seen, it should be noted that a view is counted if the video plays for three seconds or more on the user’s newsfeed, and doesn’t necessarily mean they have actually watched it or even unmuted the sound.
Also, one year after Facebook’s interface was retooled to make video easier than ever to watch and share, the percentage of all videos posted to Facebook uploaded directly to the network grew from 25 to 70 percent, leaving out the YouTube connection.
However, Google has remained confident and downright gracious of the increased vigor for video viewership.
"Facebook is a three second view and you're charged," Eileen Naughton, managing director for Google U.K. and Ireland, told CNBC in June 2015. "So we are very comfortable, we send a lot of videos over to Facebook, Facebook users share YouTube videos, we get a lot of traffic back and forth and that's a good thing."
Jamie Byrne, Director of Content Commercialization for YouTube, even struck a “more, the merrier” chord by saying competition is a part of the growth of the video sector to ensure its longevity. In an interview with Variety, he explained, “We need a robust video market,” he says. “That means lots of creators, lots of advertisers … and it also means there will be other distribution options for creators.”
There may be something to this statement, as Nick Cicero, who works with brands and startups improving their digital marketing and social media strategy, describes the difference between the two being like the coexistence of Spotify and Pandora. Each provides music, but the difference comes with user intent and discovery.
“YouTube is like Spotify: While there are channels and pre-selected playlists, the beauty of the service is in being able to do your own thing and choose the exact videos you want to see,” he explains in an article for Marketing Land.
It may be that YouTube is happy with its format, honing in on the strengths that made it the video sharing giant it continues to be. Ad revenues for YouTube soared 40 percent in the past year, indicating that it can still attract marketing dollars even amidst the more crowded, video sharing landscape.
However, the Wall Street Journal pointed out while YouTube posted revenue of about $4 billion in 2014, up from $3 billion a year earlier, and accounted for about 6 percent of Google’s overall sales last year, it didn’t contribute to earnings.
Investors and industry analysts are getting skeptical as well. Fearing the video giant won’t be able to sustain its growth or retain viewers if it doesn’t adapt, one executive told Variety, “YouTube has positioned itself to potentially blow the biggest halftime lead in the history of sports.”
Shorter, Longer and Live: The New Video Landscape
Generally, if something can be done on the Internet, the immediate next question is, “How else can it be done?” These are some of the newer developments to which YouTube referred in its comments on more creators being welcomed:
- Short-form video gave way to the even-shorter Vine videos, which drew in 200 million monthly active users as of August 2015 stats, and reaches 14 percent of the total U.S. digital population; 12 million of these videos are uploaded to Twitter daily; Snapchat has also seen 6 billion daily views of video on its mobile-only site.
- Free and paid sites to watch TV, movies – nearly every network on television has shows available to watch, often as soon as 24 hours after air date. Netflix, which is a close second to YouTube in its share of US millennials who use streaming services, Hulu and Amazon dominate the streaming video market; unlike their TV counterparts, however, there is a fee to download and view, and not all movies or TV series are available in their online stores.
- Original content – a mainstay of YouTube in the short form, the streaming sites now have direct-to-digital series that are gaining in popularity with viewers, A-list actors and critics alike. “Binge-watch” is now a verb, and became Collins’ dictionary word of the year for 2015
- Live streaming video services like Facebook Live and Twitter-owned Periscope has (pardon the pun) broken the surface in 2015, and allows anyone to live stream to the internet via your phone, essentially giving you your own broadcasting station.
Advertisers Take Notice
Marketing and advertising has also taken notice of the value in placing ads on these sites and just prior to a video view. Anyone in business is being sternly warned that if video is not part of their marketing toolkit, they won’t be in business for long. Some compelling statistics from Video Brewery:
- 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website they visited in the past 30 days
- 22 percent of those visited the website named in the ad
- The average user spends 16 minutes, 49 seconds every month watching video ads
- 90 percent of online shoppers at a major retailer’s site say they find video helpful in making shopping and buying decisions
So it may be that YouTube had the right idea in welcoming everyone to the party, because demand will only rise with the use of video for advertising. Just what share of the overall video pie it will have remains to be seen, but it’s a safe bet we’ll stay tuned.
Where do you think video will go in 2016 and beyond? Let us know in the comments.
Terrance Kern is the owner of The Texas SEO Company and works with the No Risk SEO Team. He has over 8 years experience in analyzing data, competition and optimizing campaigns for conversions. His Team are Google Allstars and have been nationally recognized by the US search Awards both in 2014 & 2015 for "Best SEO Campaign" and "Best PPC Campaign."