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Digital, data and dollars at Vidcon
Monday, July 3, 2017
An estimated 30,000 online video creators, fans and industry players recently gathered for another successful Vidcon, the annual online video conference, in Anaheim, California.
Advances in digital video consumption, data usage and monetization were among the key insights that emerged from the event:
Audiences now spend a LOT of time online and on mobile
Results from a recent Ogilvy and The Young Turks Network study presented at Vidcon found that 68% of respondents (all age 18+) say their average online viewing sessions are now over 30 minutes. Gone are the days of snacking on brief online video clips only; audiences are now gobbling up full series of connected clips and long-form content. This aligns with the recent Ooyala Q1 2017 Global Video Index report, which found that long-form content (over 20 minutes) dominates viewing on all screens now.
Meanwhile, YouTube announced at the show that it now attracts 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users. These users spend, on average, more than an hour per day watching YouTube content on mobile devices. This is also not surprising; the Ooyala report found that mobile plays made up nearly 57% of all Q1 video plays, up more than 18% year-over-year.
=> Content companies looking to find, engage and monetize audiences are sure to find them watching—and staying—on mobile and online platforms.
Data now is critical at all points
Buzzfeed presented a session on its success with social video, noting that it has created a massive data-driven feedback loop throughout its content cycle: testing, iterating and learning what its audiences want and then giving it to them. The company has made actionable data available to all employees, and has also built a number of data tools to assist teams throughout video content production and delivery.
The NFL discussed how it has used data to determine the right content mix for its audiences, learn from each specific platform to which it distributes content, and overcome roadblocks to success. For example, it delved into its international data to determine the popularity of Super Bowl halftime performance videos it published online internationally, and then moved to secure the rights to replicate that success in the U.S. As the Ooyala report noted, data insights are critical in helping companies understand both the similarities and differences of global OTT video consumption.
=> Data is vital at all points in the video lifecycle, not just at the point of publishing.  
Monetization now is not one-size fits all
Facebook shared that monetization on its platform is evolving, with mid-roll ad and branded content opportunities growing. It’s a good time to think about mid-rolls, as the Ooyala Q1 Video Index report highlighted that broadcaster mid-roll completion rates for PCs, tablets and smartphones were all above 90% in Q1, making it clear that viewers will watch these ads in exchange for premium content. As Facebook noted, creators that make an announcement when a mid-roll ad break is coming, along with a “stay tuned” message, can help maintain audience engagement through the breaks.
That same study by Ogilvy and The Young Turks Network also found that among respondents whose average viewing sessions are over 30 minutes, 78% will pay more attention to ads if they are relevant to the show they’re watching and 59% will do so if they feature talent from the show. Aligning audience ad preferences with content is becoming ever more important for companies in the video space.
=> The ability to embrace new ad formats and experiences attuned to audience interests and content promises to be a crucial video survival skill going forward.
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Paula Minardi

Paula is the Head of Content Strategy at Ooyala, where she crafts insights on digital video, production and ad tech trends. She’s held previous positions at Viacom and EMI, with focus areas including video content development, distribution and marketing.

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