Millward Brown / Dynamic Logic Digital Predictions For 2012 #4 Online Video Invades the Living Room

Here’s more from the Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic (Disclosure: Both agencies are part of WPP, as is my employer, Y&R12 for 2012: Top 12 Digital Predictions for 2012 report with #4 on their list, Online Video Invades the Living Room.

The report focuses on the “reverse-migrate” trend that will see video normally viewed online, shifting towards the more traditional viewing location: the living room (with living room being a stand-in for traditional television). There are many technologies and platforms in the mix here, as noted in the report, Slingbox, Roku, Boxee, Apple TV and Google TV are all trying to figure this out. Amazon is also in the mix based on their sheer size and obvious ambition.

Will Google Rule The Online Video / TV industry?

If I were placing a bet, it would be on Google. They have an established content platform with YouTube, and coupled with the strength of their search engine, Google is sure to play a role in whatever develops over the next year. I would also not be surprised if a previously unknown company found a niche and became a real player here, like TiVo did more than a decade ago.

These sort of dramatic changes usually create problems for the establishment, and the mainstreaming of online video will probably be another body blow to the broadcast networks. Whatever content I choose, whenever I want to watch it, from my 50″ big screen TV? Where exactly does that leave CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC? I think these folks are already dead, they just haven’t stopped breathing. Purely from a profitability standpoint, I can’t see NBC – the broadcast network – existing in five years time.

When you look at all the properties that Comcast, via its ownership of NBCUniversal has: CNBC, MSNBC, the upcoming NBC Sports Channel, G4, USA, Syfy, Bravo… You realize that NBC has little left beyond a morning show, sports (which would move to the new sports channel) and the occasional primetime programming hit.  Why keep funding that?

To people like like my 12 and 8-year old sons, there is no longer and difference between broadcast & cable, between watching programming on a phone, a tablet, a desktop monitor or a big screen TV. In fact, they probably watch video content on three to five different type of devices every day. How does the notion of a network “brand” fit into this new universe?  The notion of CBS being the “TIffany Network” seems not just quaint, but antiquated.

Like much else, I think we’ll see personalization taken to the next level in video programming. Like you music playlist, soon your TV playlist will be a reflection of your self that you’ll be able to share with others (more on this idea in a future post).

For online video time isn’t a barrier, quality is

You hear a lot about the attention spans of consumers especially as it relates to online consumption habits. “Consumers won’t watch videos longer than 2 minutes, 37 seconds.” Or some such. “Twitter is so popular because it taps in to our short attention spans.”

I think these notions are patently false and are approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Consumers aren’t watching your long videos, not because they are long, but because they aren’t any good. Here’s a short film(note I don’t call it a commercial) for Johnnie Walker, made by BBH. Six minutes and 28 seconds of exceptional quality:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

That’s terrifically compelling filmmaking in support of a brand. Read the full story over at BBH Labs. This is such a departure from the “let’s make a viral video!”-mentality that drives things like the Cadbury Dancing Eyebrows, which, six months from now will have little to know relavance for that brand. But this Johnnie Walker video could be played 100 years from now, and it will still be a true representation of the brand.

As a soccer (football) fan, I often hear the complaint that soccer is boring. No, not inherently. Sure, there are boring games (we call those MLS matches), but a well played 1-0 or even 0-0 game can be extremely compelling. Similarly, was there anything boring about last week’s 15 inning Red Sox v. Yankees marathon? No, that was edge of your seat stuff.

Is making a two minute piece easier than making an eight minute one? Perhaps, but I’m not certain. I think quality takes as long as quality takes, and you can’t put pre-defined limits on what’s going to work. S0, rather than focus on length, focus on quality and the next time someone tells you that online videos have to be a certain length, tell them to Keep Walking.


Disclosure – I’ve worked on Johnnie Walker in the past, supporting their F1 and cricket sponsorships, and my agency, Taylor, has been a partner with Diageo for around 20 years. We had nothing to do with this film however.

Battle at Kruger – The best piece of shared media ever

I’m not crazy about the term viral video. It’s over-used and misused. I’ve talked a lot recently about why I like the term ‘Shared Media,’ but whatever you call it, the trend of massively viewed online video is real. We’ve seen all sorts of video become popular this way – from comic dancing to drumming gorillas; from Drama Queens (NSFW) to geographically-challenged beauty queens.  But for my money, The Battle at Kruger is the best piece of shared video ever.  Not familar with The Battle at Kruger? Take a couple of minutes and watch this:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Yes, amazing video, but why do I think it’s the best? It has so many elements of classic storytelling:

It’s immersive 

You feel like you’re in the car with the rest of the witnesses, part of their conversations. Very few videos give you that ‘you are there’ feeling.

It has classic narrative plot structure

You meet the protagonist, the antagonist is then introduced, followed by a surprise third party. The drama continues to build until it looks like our hero will perish, only for a dramatic turn of events at the last moment.

It’s unpredictable

Crocodiles? A water buffalo fightback? No way you saw those things coming. By the end I was ready for Ninja Giraffes.  Unpredictability really is one of the key factors, and often an overlooked one, when brands create online video content. Content that makes viewers say, “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!” is the type that gets shared.

It’s Unique

Make a funny song video and somebody else can make one too.  Got an adorable kid throwing a wiffle ball at his daddy’s groin? Get in line.  But Battle at Kruger is a virtually unrepeatable, unbeatable piece of footage. Can you imagine a more remarkable piece of “found” footage?

It’s Authentic

Alright, here’s what really separates Battle at Kruger from the rest of the popular videos for me. No staged comedy bits, no CGI trickery, no scripted dialoague. The reactions of the witnesses are real, and the actions of the animals are life & death-real.  No professional voice-over, no slick editing. Kids bouncing their eyebrows, keyboard playing cats, even Susan Boyle’s performance has a staged element to it.

So before you commit to spending thousands of dollars on your ‘viral video,’ keep in mind the elements that will appeal to viewers and connect with them emotionally.