• Panel of Digital Influencers and Innovators Articulates Video's Growing Impact

    I recently gathered an influential group of online video experts at the new Sherpa Studio in New York City to discuss the future of video delivery, mobile video platforms and live streaming technology trends as part of our Digital Innovators x Influencers (DMX) event series.
    The group of panelists included Ian O'Brien, Executive Director, Multimedia Services, JPMorgan Chase, Mike Covino, Director, Credit Suisse, Darren Hodgdon, COO, United Healthcare Community Plan (United Health Group), Adam Cricchio, Vice President of Creative and UX, WeightWatchers.com, as well as Antonette Alonso, Director Enterprise Video Services Infrastructure, North Shore-LIJ.
    The group drew interesting conclusions and highlighted new ways that video is impacting businesses and consumers.

    It’s interesting to see how far video has evolved in the past five years. Recently, comScore released data from the comScore Video Metrix service showing that 182.5 million Americans watched 39.3 billion online content videos in March 2013 alone.
    When looking at what drives consumption and what has changed viewing habits over the past five years, Mike Covino made reference to the multi-device, cross-screen consumer.  "Digital video is everywhere," said Covino. He says he often watches online video while he's watching TV and has 12 Apple devices at home with only four people in the house.
    There are more ways to disseminate online video and consumers' appetites are growing to match.  Panelists agreed that consumption has spiked over the past five years, so what's driving this trend?
    Weight Watchers' Adam Cricchio noted that mobile is the biggest driving force of our always-on society. He specified that mobile is changing the technology (of how video is delivered) and the bandwidth to deliver videos is also changing.  As technology continues to improve, we see a matching increase in online video consumption.
    Specifically, Cricchio notes that for Weight Watchers, 'video has brought about new opportunities for educating and teaching.'
    Content will always be king, and that's no different for video. The kind of video content produced can help drive consumption.
    Ian O'Brien from JPMorgan Chase addressed the shift in video content.  "The biggest shift in video has been related to personalization.  Just a few years ago, if videos were produced, it was the more scripted ESPN version.  That's what media companies were producing; now it's about a more personal experience."
    Panelists agreed that giving consumers a way to leverage and consume video in a more personal way helps to make the video feel more real, trustworthy and memorable.
    This thought has been echoed by recent research findings, including within a recent study from Crowdtap that noted UGC is the most trusted type of media and is more memorable.  Specifically, information gathered through user-generated content is trusted 50% more than information from other media - including newspapers and magazines. Millennials also find user-generated content 35% more memorable than other sources.
    I believe when you are producing live video it should be unscripted at times.  That makes it more powerful and helps you to better connect with your end users.
    Cricchio talked further about how to embrace peer-created video.  "We saw many customers posting their own stories on YouTube.  The company realized that those stories needed to be told by the brand."  This allowed the company to connect with consumers in a more authentic way.
    Antonette Alonso echoed the importance of telling stories with video and using it as an educational tool.  For brands and businesses alike, using video to educate consumers is one of the most widely used cases.  "For consumers, it's about content that is relevant and that they can understand (in different languages, etc.)," she noted.
    As video consumption begins to dominate consumers' online activities, Darren Hodgdon, COO, United Healthcare, notes that online video, "has become an economic necessity for our business." For example, if he needs to update his business audience, video allows the company to have a personal relationship with the viewer regardless of location.  "The immediacy of the medium allows us to do that."
    The prevalence of multiple platforms, operating systems and devices can be a benefit to those leveraging video to connect with their audiences, as well as a challenge.  Covino confirmed that the saturation of platforms and devices is a challenge, so brands should think about how they are curating their content.
    O'Brien noted one of the biggest challenges is getting users on the same platform, in addition to stability when leveraging multiple platforms.  "What is one thinks is a what you want to accomplish ends up becoming very complex, as you start integrating other systems."
    Most organizations will be adopting online video for their communications over the next five years, especially as businesses become more social.  Video is everywhere.  There are more unique situations where video is embedded than it was in the past.
    As Cricchio ended, "many companies take too long debating and should start putting things out there (when it comes to leveraging online video) and seeing what sticks."