Over the past few years, the internet has evolved from a text-based medium to the new TV. Cisco estimates that video accounts for 69 percent of all internet traffic in 2017. When the next-generation wireless network, 5G, hits in 2019 and 2020, we can expect that number to grow as more consumers are able to enjoy high-bandwidth video on their mobile devices.
With that growth comes complexity, though. Today's marketers have to grapple with variables like video length, placement strategies, and ever-present threats from tech giants that traffic in video.
Looking ahead, marketers will face quite a bit of change in 2018 as the market evolves. Here are seven trends that will impact social video in 2018:
1. Six-second ads will gain more currency. Though advertisers have experimented with short-form ads for some time, Google gave its blessing to the format in January when it challenged advertisers to tell their stories in six seconds flat. Since then, Fox also began running six-second ads during NFL games. Talk all you want about decreasing attention spans, the real draw of six-second ads is that they are good for nudging consumers deep in the funnel towards making a purchase. A quick reminder ad can be all you need to get that consumer to take action. That's why I expect to see a lot more of these ads next year.
2. More advertising on Netflix. Yes, there are ads on Netflix. The company began running promos for its shows this summer. In addition, Accenture has spoken about how it would like to use its digital product placement technology to infiltrate Netflix shows. (A Coke can be superimposed into Orange Is The New Black, for instance.) We'll see a steady increase in advertising on Netflix in 2018 in part because Netflix is now creating shows at such volume (it planned to release 1,000 hours of new shows in 2017) that it will be hard to make viewers aware of such content without promoting it on the network. With around 52 million subscribers and possibly 100 million by 2020, it will be harder and harder to resist the lure of advertising in 2018. I predict at some point there will be two versions of Netflix: premium ad free and a cheaper iteration with ads.
3. More midroll. While Google got behind six-second ads, Facebook put its weight behind midroll — ads that run in the middle of a video à la TV. What took them so long? While preroll ads might prompt a viewer to flee, with midroll, you are reaching a viewer who is already engaged in the content. The interruptive nature of advertising can be mitigated via effective targeting. If you're in the market for a new washing machine, then you really won't mind seeing an ad for one. In addition to backing from Facebook, the reason we'll see more mid-roll advertising in 2018 is because of consumers' increasing resistance to ad messages. As more consumers turn to ad blockers and reject preroll, brands will see midroll as a vehicle to reach consumers who are already engaged in content and are more likely to sit through an ad message.
4. Continued consolidation of third-party verification of metrics. With so much ad fraud, marketers are right to be skeptical and ask for third-party verification. In the last year, I've seen more consolidation in this area as most have used Google's DoubleClick, Moat (which is now part of Oracle), or Integral Ad Science. Overall, marketers will continue to be skeptical of their digital advertising partners. That's a good thing, since such skepticism will weed out the charlatans and fraudsters and allow the ethical companies to prosper. The consolidation of third-party verifiers means that verification will improve and the industry can start winning back marketers' trust.
5. Amazon will throw its weight around. Amazon has the best consumer data in the business, but advertising has always been a sideline because its main business — retail — has been so good. That's changing. The company is looking to hire some 2,000 execs in its new New York Office, and most of those jobs will be in advertising. In addition, brands like Geico and Hyundai, who don't sell their goods on Amazon, have recently come around to advertising during Amazon's telecasts of Thursday Night Football. In October, the company also began inviting merchants to create product videos to run on Amazon.com to compete with YouTube this holiday season. The idea is to keep consumers from straying elsewhere to get product info. Expect Amazon to continue to tighten its grip next in 2018.
6. More personalization. Personalization is an ad industry mantra that's more spoken about than executed upon. Video in particular has been tough to personalize since it isn't customizable the way a banner is. But as addressability and video technology continue to improve, expect to see more efforts at personalizing content in 2018. That could mean more relevant videos or even videos addressed personally to you, like this ad for Alien Covenant on the UK's Channel 4 that addressed consumers by name.
7. The introduction of 5G. The next-generation wireless network will make its debut to the world during the and we'll see sporadic 5G implementations throughout the year. The industry will need to prepare for a sea change, though, as higher-speed wireless' long-term effects become evident. 5G will be a catalyst for everything from mobile VR to cord cutting to even greater consumption of mobile video. Smart marketers will spend 2018 laying the groundwork for 5G by boosting their VR efforts and taking advantage of the continued erosion of linear TV.
What else? It's impossible to predict how much advances in AI will affect the marketing world and whether 2018 will be a breakthrough year for other game-changing technologies, like IoT. The only constants will be the continued evolution of technology overall and its effects on how consumers experience brands.
James G. Brooks is CEO and Founder of GlassView.