Video is the future of the internet, and it’s reshaping even the most popular social platforms that launched without a video focus.
In fact, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP for EMEA, has predicted that the world’s largest social network would “probably” be “all video” in the next five years.
Consumers love video and advertisers can’t get enough video ad inventory. As a result, publishers and media companies are increasingly doing whatever they can to embrace video.
Historically, video production has been a costly undertaking. After all, creating compelling, high-quality video is far more involved than creating compelling, high-quality written content or photography.
To address the consumer and advertiser demand for video while at the same time avoiding breaking the bank, publishers have turned to technology that is capable of churning out video content in a highly-automated fashion.
Wochit and Wibbitz
As detailed by the New York Times, two companies, Wochit and Wibbitz, have come to take an early lead in the automated video production space.
A wide range of publishers are making these companies’ tools a big part of their online video strategies. One of those publishers is Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, which has newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel in its portfolio.
Tronc chairman Michael W. Ferro Jr. told the New York Times’ John Herrman that his company is currently producing a “couple hundred” videos each day, but sees that number increasingly substantially. “We think we need to be doing 2,000 videos a day,” he said.
Such volume is probably impossible without automated video, and as automated video becomes a bigger and bigger source of video on the web, here’s what publishers and advertisers should keep in mind.
How it works
Automated video platforms like Wochit and Wibbitz analyze input text content (eg. for a news story) and identify images and video clips that are related, typically from stock and video photography services.
Through partnerships, Wochit and Wibbitz offer human voice narration, but fully-automated computer-generated voice-overs can also be used.
Wochit and Wibbitz can also automatically caption the videos they assemble, important for creating videos that are suited for social channels that have silent autoplay.
For publishers that don’t trust Wochit and Wibbitz to produce production-ready videos in a totally automated fashion, publishers have the flexibility to make their own edits and add their own content to videos before publishing.
While adoption of automated video is growing significantly – major publishers that are clients of Wochit and Wibbitz include Hearst, Gannett, Time, CBS Interactive, Bonnier and The Huffington Post – automated video is not without its limitations. While consumers love video, they still have expectations around quality and it’s hard to meet those expectations in a fully-automated fashion.
According to USA Today’s Chris Pirrone…
The data came back very quickly that text-to-video alone, if you don’t touch it, consumers can quickly recognize it is not a high-quality product.
Even Wochit and Wibbitz agree: their tools are best used in conjunction with a human touch.
But even with that human touch, publishers and advertisers need to recognize that the most compelling kinds of videos, which are emotional and tell powerful stories, are probably not going to come from an automated video platform any time soon.
So video automation tools, while a potential contributor to the online video ecosystem, aren’t a panacea and shouldn’t be relied on too heavily.
Supply and demand
A bigger consideration for publishers and advertisers is the fact that automated video is going to change the supply and demand dynamics in the online video market.
Since the beginning of the year, Wochit’s clients have doubled the number of videos they’re producing using the company’s technology. That figure now stands at 30,000 videos a month.
While consumers love video, attention is finite and the growing number of videos will make it harder for publishers to stand out. At worst, video in some content categories could be completely commoditized to the point that it isn’t a point of differentiation with consumers and prices for ads drops significantly.
At the same time, if the rise of automated video comes at the expense of truly original video, demand for original video content, including longer-form content, could increase as it becomes less common, benefiting publishers that continue to invest in its production and making it more expensive for advertisers looking to market their wares through non-commoditized video content.
The limitations of automated video, combined with the possible supply and demand effects, mean that adoption of automated video on a larger scale presents risks for both publishers and advertisers.
For publishers, too much reliance on automated video could backfire, reducing the quality of the video content portfolios. Eventually, that could threaten a publishers’ brands and leave them with audiences and ad inventory that are less valuable.
For this reason, publishers should be strategic about how much of the video content mix they create using automated video tools. Specifically, they should consider focusing their use of automated video on channels for which this kind of content might be better suited, such as social platforms, where silent autoplay means short, captioned video content is more acceptable.
For advertisers, the risk is that the ad inventory created by automated video won’t be as high in value, and might even become of limited value if publishers oversaturate the market.
For this reason, advertisers should recognize that video ad inventory is not all the same and make sure that they’re not paying a premium for inventory that is not premium.