In January 2007, a man named Ron Davis uploaded a video to YouTube of his bulldog Tillman skateboarding around a Santa Monica park. It was a viral sensation, attracting tens of millions of views, and from then forward it was consistently cited by media pundits as a harbinger of things to come, an example of the kind of content future generations would consume (Keyboard Cat was also an oft-cited product of this trend). Traditional media companies that had spent decades producing high-quality, expensive video would be laid to waste by amateurs uploading vertical videos from their cell phones. Back then, reality TV, known for being far cheaper to produce than scripted shows, was at the height of its popularity, and one couldn’t blame aspiring filmmakers for thinking their profession would be driven to extinction by the inexorable rise of cheap content. Flash forward eight years, and the demand for premium video couldn’t be higher. We live in what many cultural critics call the “golden age of television,” and while reality TV certainly hasn’t gone away, it’s done nothing to temper the demand for scripted, serialized shows. Tech platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, in their efforts to disrupt the traditional cable industry, have launched their own Emmy-winning programming, and this glut of fantastic television has spawned an entire cottage industry of web writers who recap and dissect each week’s episode. This month we learned that Apple, which is making a concerted effort to gain a footing in the TV space, has entered discussions about commissioning its own original programming. This demand for exceptional video extends beyond television and onto the internet. Digital media upstarts like Vice and Buzzfeed have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists, with much of that money being directed towards their video studios. YouTube, once considered the Grim Reaper incarnate to the traditional media world, is investing hundreds of million of dollars on its homegrown stars to help them bring their video offerings to the next level. Why professional videos still matter There are a couple reasons premium video has stayed important. First, the widespread adoption of mobile and tablet devices, as well as the widespread availability of high-speed broadband, has produced more opportunity to watch video (especially since it’s easier to consume than text that’s rendered tiny on a phone screen). Second, the increase in video supply, not only with the rise of video platforms like YouTube but also in the launch of ever more cable channels, has created more competition, thereby forcing content creators to up their game in order to break through the noise. Increasing demand from marketers There are no signs that this demand will diminish anytime soon –a report from Cisco projects that, by 2017, video traffic will account for 69 percent of all internet use. And so it shouldn’t be a surprise that marketers, having noticed this appetite for high quality content, are rising to meet that demand. About 64 percent of brand marketers surveyed recently by Nielsen said video will dominate their future strategies, and it’s easy to understand why. According to Axonn Research, 70 percent of consumers view brands in a more positive light when presented by branded video content they enjoy. Up to 90 percent of online shoppers say video is helpful for making buying decisions, and 40 percent of B2B marketing professionals say their video marketing was successful. Viewing these figures, there’s little wonder that online video is seeing a 43 percent year over year increase in budget spend. Let’s be clear: user-generated video isn’t going away. We’ll still see viral caught-on-camera footage bubble up into the mainstream. But in terms of the kind of video that consumers seek out and subscribe to, they’re still going to prefer a polished product, one that uses top-of-the-line editing and cinematography to tell engaging stories. If you’re someone who excels at this type of content, the amateurs didn’t eat your lunch; they made it more valuable. Matt Cooper is the CEO of Visually, a content creation platform that enables businesses to engage audiences through premium visual content — created fast and cost-effectively by highly vetted creative professionals. Matt is passionate about the latest content marketing trends and best practices for video, infographics, eBooks and more. Follow him on Twitter @matt_cooper.
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