7 Predictions For Online Video In 2012

2011 has been a big year for online video.  YouTube boasts over 1 trillion playbacks this year, and has announced a new plan to launch a huge amount of professional video content; online video showed us major events around the world like the revolution in the Middle East, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, and Occupy Wall Street; and at over 48 hours of footage per hour, more video than ever is being uploaded to YouTube.

Seeing how New Years is just around the corner, now seemed like as good a time as any to jot down a few of my thoughts about what the next year has in store for the online video industry.  Check out my 7 predictions for online video in 2012 and feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below!

Online video will become a must for brands and businesses

Over the past couple of years, brands and businesses have learned that consumers expect them to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter and have begun to embrace these networks for everything from customer service to customer acquisition and more.  However, a lot of brands and businesses have yet to embrace YouTube.

In the coming year, I think that YouTube will become the third network in the ultimate social media “trifecta” as brands and businesses realize that video is a much more effective way to interest and engage consumers.  New statistics show that over the past ten years, the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes.  As customers and potential customers surf the web, they are looking for the easiest and quickest method of consuming information, and that method is video.  Statistics show that online video is 5.33 times more effective than text and as brands begin to understand this I think we’ll be seeing a lot more video on business homepages and a lot more businesses on YouTube.

We’ll see a shift from User Generated Content to Professional Content

For much of this year YouTube has been in talks with networks and professional content creators, setting the stage for the launch of a lot more professional content and original programming.  Throughout the coming year YouTube will be launching at least 90 new original channels featuring celebrities from Madonna to Tony Hawk, Deepak Chopra and Jay-Z, networks, professional creators and more.  With all this new content, we’re definitely going to see a shift in the professionalism of web video, especially on YouTube.

This year YouTube has also put a lot of effort into increasing the quality of content uploaded to their site by investing in a YouTube Creator Institute to teach aspiring creators to produce and market for YouTube, they’ve launched a Partner Grants Program to help partners improve the quality of their videos, and they acquired Next New Networks, who is now working together with YouTube not only to help partners, but also to discover new talent and help them succeed.  All of these point to their desire to increase the amount of professional (monetizable!) content on the site.

Up until recently YouTube thrived on User Generated Content.  In 2012 this is going to change.  I’m not saying that UGC is going to fade out—the regular Joe will always be uploading videos to  YouTube and the lucky ones will be “going viral”—but in the coming year we’re definitely going to see a heck of a lot more professional content rising to the top of the YouTube charts.

We’ll sit through more online video ads than ever before

More professional video content means more video ads and, while I wish it wasn’t so, I’ve got a feeling that we are going to be bombarded with online video advertising in 2012.

Online video ads are set to triple in 2011 and 15 percent of all online videos viewed in November were advertisements.  You may think that sounds like so much they couldn’t possibly add more, but we still have a long way to go until online video ads catch up to the amount of commercials we consume when we watch TV.

The only saving grace here is that it seems like online video sites give us time to become accustomed to the amount of online video ads before they add more, so maybe we won’t notice as more and more ads sneak up on us.  But come the end of 2012, I’ve got a feeling that a lot more than 15 percent of online videos we’re watching will be ads.

Online video will become more social

A fun interactive infographic from Unruly, the Viral Spiral, shows that as time goes by people are sharing more and more videos.  In 2011 the most-shared video ads were shared around 1.5 million times, while this year’s Volkswagen viral hit ‘The Force’ has been shared nearly 5 million times.  They predict that the first viral video ad to hit 10 million views will debut in 2012.

A large portion of this growth will be due to the recent YouTube redesign, which has not only incorporated a feed that lets viewers and pals see what you’ve been up to on YouTube itself (in terms of liking, commenting, uploading and more) but has also made sharing easier than ever, allowing users to connect with Google+ and Facebook to share content, and keep up with the latest activity from friends on social networks.

Producing quality content will be easier than ever

Awesome effects and professionally edited videos were once reserved for, well, professionals.  If you didn’t know anything about video editing or FX then you were relegated to uploading simple one-take videos that, let’s face it, just weren’t as interesting as the more professional-grade content.  Fancy effects were left to the Freddie Wongs of the world.  In 2012 (and even now at the end of 2011) all of that is changing.

Smartphone applications are making it so that anyone can produce quality videos, even if they don’t have a background in graphics, animation, or video editing.  At YouTube.com/create there is a growing collection of apps like Xtranormal and GoAnimate, that let you make animations; simplified video editing solutions like YouTube Video Editor and WeVideo; automatic video solutions like Magisto, which edits your video for you, and more.  Animoto just released an iPhone app for video slideshows, Flixlab makes social video creation easy and there are a plethora of other apps that make it simple to create anything from stop motion videos to animated stories.

Just last week I came across an amazing free iPhone app, Action Movie FX, that even lets you blow stuff up with no prior knowledge of effects.  Check out my Action Movie FX masterpiece, ‘Dogsplosion!’ below.  And please, try not to be jealous of my mad acting skillz.

People will start taking copyright seriously

All the discussion surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has got people thinking and talking about copyright in a whole new light.  Whether or not the bill is passed, I think it is going to have an enormous effect on the way that people view copyright in relation to online video.

Until recently, a large portion of online content creators didn’t view copyright violation as such a big deal.  If you uploaded a video with a copyright song in the background, the worst that might happen would be that YouTube silenced your video or removed it from your channel and maybe (just maybe) your account would be suspended.  If you uploaded an image you didn’t have the rights to you may have thought “oh well, if anyone says something I can always just take it down.”

With the threat of jail time on the horizon, I think people are going to start taking copyright a whole lot more seriously and as a result we may see a shift in the type of content being uploaded (especially in the music department).  I love covers and parodies but, unfortunately, I’ve got a feeling that thanks to SOPA these are going to be on the decline in 2012.

Online video won’t kill TV

Finally, I want to weigh in on an argument seems to grow stronger with every passing year—the argument that online video is going to take the place of TV.  Sorry folks, but I’m going to have to disagree.  I don’t think that online video will kill TV anytime soon.  Rather, it will make it stronger.

Video discovery and social TV engines are helping viewers discover new TV content and most of them aren’t watching that content online.  Many fans still want to watch new episodes and TV content the moment it comes out—when it airs on TV—and unless major networks begin streaming new shows at the same time as they broadcast them, I really don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future.  Diehard fans aren’t ready to cut the cord because they don’t want to wait for their favorite shows to be available online.

What are your predictions for online video in 2012?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credit: Sergey Mironov via Shutterstock

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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