January 5, 2016 Last Updated 8:38 am

Three changes you’ll see in the content you watch online in 2016

Guest column: Greg Peters, Chairman and CEO of INFORM, says publishers and advertisers will need to focus on personalization, distribution and availability in the new year

Since the launch of YouTube a decade ago, video has quickly become the most impactful — and popular — ways to engage with an audience online, beginning to overtake text as the preferred content medium. A survey from IAB and GfK found that digital video consumption is up 13 percent since 2014 and is only expected to increase. There is a growing demand for video on mobile devices, as well, with eMarketer estimating that more than 105 million U.S. smartphone users watch video at least once per month.


While it is clear that digital video inventory is in-demand from consumers, 2016 will bring with it some changes to how content is personalized, distributed and consumed.  Below are three considerations for publishers, content creators and advertisers as they’re determining their video strategy for the new year.

Semantic Personalization & Content Recommendations Will Produce Better Engagement 

Publishers are in search for the most efficient way to feature video and text that maximizes engagement and monetization, while readers seek relevant, high-interest content. Semantic-based personalization satisfies both of these needs. First, it gives publishers greater access to the massive digital databases of word associations and topics that exist, which in turn, transforms the way they deliver content suggestions. Second, it tailors content to users’ interests the second they click onto a publisher’s site, removing the less personal, automatic “cold start” commonly found with digital video. Couple this with recommended content features, and in 2016 publishers will reap the pageview, time spent and loyalty benefits that come with featuring premier, personalized digital video.

Content Distribution Outside of Facebook Will Become Increasingly Popular

The amount of digital content available online has exploded. ACI reported that every minute, Google receives over 4 million search queries, Facebook users share over 2 million pieces of content, YouTube users upload over 72 hours of new video and Instagrammers post nearly 220,000 photos. This influx of content is creating big opportunities for publishers, but also big distribution challenges. Facebook, for example, has led the way in content distribution socially, but other large video verticals like News, Local or Sports, which garner as much (if not more) total user engagement suffer from lack of “discovery” on social channels. In 2016, publishers must ensure they’re making this type of content more accessible on channels outside of Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Housing video content on owned properties not only keeps audiences on a publisher’s website, but it allows the publisher to take a bigger share of ad revenue.

Long-Form Video Content Will Move to a Subscription-Based Model

This year, YouTube launched its advertisement-free video subscription service – YouTube Red. But long-form video content has been transitioning to a subscription-based model for some time, with the increased use of ad blockers and growing popularity of Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO. This trend will only continue in 2016 as more content creators launch their own paid, ad-free digital channels. However, many viewers expect free viewing options online, and are open to non-disruptive advertisements if it means access to content. For this reason, short-form video content providers will likely skip a paywall. Either way, it is critical for publishers and content creators to determine whether a subscription or “free”-based model works best with their current and prospective audience.

gregpeters-340As consumer demand for video continues to grow, the media and ad industries need to ensure their video content strategies keep pace– no easy feat thanks to the rapidly changing landscape for viewing digital content. With more time being spent across numerous devices and various screens, and more content readily available, it is critical for publishers, content creators and advertisers to focus on personalization, distribution and availability in the new year if they want to capture the attention of viewers.

Greg Peters is a founder, Chairman and CEO of INFORM, a company which works with publishers to improve digital advertising effectiveness and publishing operations

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