News publishers and marketers are jumping headlong into online video, based on multiple studies showing that video attracts more viewers than text and still graphics. Many in publishing and marketing expect that video will soon dominate the internet.
Sixty percent of marketers now use video in their marketing and 73% plan on increasing their use of video, according to the 2016 Social Media Industry report. Half of marketers polled plan to use live video streaming and 50% want to learn more about live video. Companies are also expanding the use of video streaming for employee communications, and PR is increasingly including video in press releases that are distributed to digital publishers, posted on corporate websites and shared on social media. Some pundits predict 2016 will be year of video for social media marketing.
However, a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism may disappoint publishers who have dedicated significant resources into video. The report also raises a cautionary flag for marketers.
Little Time Spend Viewing News Videos
Here’s what the report shows.
Large publishers more than doubled their video postings through social networks like Facebook and are experimenting with live services such as Periscope and Facebook Live. Most senior digital news leaders (79%) plan to invest more in online video this year, but most remain in an experimental phase.
However, just a small proportion of time spent on news sites is spent on video (an average of 2.5% across 30 websites), according to the report, the Future of Online News Video. Even large producers of video content, like BBC News, struggle to get beyond one in ten of users accessing video on a visit.
Favor Videos on Breaking News
Researchers, who interviewed about 30 news organizations in the U.S. and Europe, did find a marked increase in interest in online video news of large-scale breaking events. The percentage of users accessing BBC News following the Paris attacks in November 2015 more than doubled, from 10% on an average day to 22% immediately after the attacks.
A survey from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report showed that 78 percent of survey participants never or only occasionally accessed a news video. The survey showed limited growth in the use of news video and wide variations between countries.
“Online video news provides a powerful and popular way of covering compelling stories, but not all everyday news coverage is equally compelling,” said one of the report authors, Antonis Kalogeropoulos. “So far, the growth around online video news seems to be largely driven by technology, platforms, and publishers rather than by strong consumer demand.”
Barriers to Watching Video
Many people (41 percent) said they find reading text quicker and more convenient. In addition, many find pre-roll ads annoying; others are impatient with long load times. Some say videos don’t add value to text stories.
Off-site news video consumption is growing fast – with Facebook a key focus of activity. Hallmarks of successful off-site and social videos typically include brevity, the ability to play without sound, a focus on soft news and a strong emotional element.
Consumers value videos that add drama and immediacy, but only up to a point. In some circumstances, they still prefer the control and flexibility of text.
“Although we are likely to see considerable innovation in both formats and production over the next few years, it is hard to see video replacing text in terms of the range of stories, and the depth of comment and analysis traditionally generated by publishers,” says report Co-author Federica Cherubini.
Consumers find video of cute kittens enticing, enchanting and entertaining; video of news events, well, not so much. PR and marketing and videos that instruct, entertain or captivate emotionally seem to work best.
Bottom Line: Although many news publishers and marketers believe online video represents the future of the internet, many consumers disagree. New research reveals that people visiting news websites prefer text articles in many instances. The results may caution publishers as well as marketers and PR pros against creating videos for all circumstances.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.