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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Publishers that spent years investing in making dozens of viral social media videos every day are pivoting their production efforts to creating high-quality, episodic video series that can be sold or licensed across many different video channels.
The big picture: For many publishers, viral video — the holy grail of traffic just a few years ago — has now mostly become a marketing tool, due to changing consumption habits and tech platform dynamics. Now, series and shows are being created and leveraged for better revenue and audience development opportunities.
"Almost all of the video publishing ATTN: does now is a part of a series. We don't really do one-off publishing any more. We're big believers in serialized programming as a mechanism for intentional viewing and for building a bigger brand and audience."— Matthew Segal, Co-founder and CEO of Attn
Why it's happening: The shift began over a year ago, when tech companies began investing in over-the-top (OTT) video, like Facebook Watch, and when subscription video on-demand companies, like Netflix and Amazon, began investing in publisher content, according several publishing executives.
"In the last year, we've seen a shift sort of after the high-high of The Facebook Live 'watermelon explosion' era. And publishers across the board, I think, saw a decline in how many people were watching their videos. It was an indication that it wasn't a direction to keep pushing on."— Shani Hilton, VP of News and Programming at BuzzFeed News
Between the lines: Revenue opportunities, mostly advertising-based, around feed-based video content, also became difficult to rely on with traffic fluctuations. Publishers found that series-based content, which is usually sponsorship-based or are paid for through a licensing fee, have become a more consistent revenue stream.
Yes, but: Some publishers argue that you can't completely abandon short-form video, because it's helpful from both a marketing and data perspective.
"The two are extricably linked together. The series we are developing depends on data points around engagement from feed content. It's not an either-or scenario."— Athan Stephanopoulos, President of NowThis
Who's getting it right? Axios asked several publishers which of their peers seems to be breaking through with series content. Overwhelmingly, the answer was Vox as well as The New York Times. "They do what they’re known for well," said one executive. "'Explained,' Vox's new series on Netflix, is a good example. It's true to the core of their editorial focus."
🎧 Worthy of your time: Digiday's Brian Morrissey has one of the best interviews to-date about this shift with Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello. "The big problem with the 'pivot to video' is that very few people are spending any time or money focusing on and what is your individual strategy and what is that content and how does it differentiate and what is the value to end "f***ing consumer?" Listen.
More than half (57%) of American television households (roughly 120 million in total) now own internet-enabled TV's, according to the Consumer Technology Association's 20th Ownership and Market Potential study.
Consumers overwhelmingly watch connected-TV content on the big screen, and specifically, in the living room.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nickelodeon
While CMO's sipped champaign at Cannes last week, Gen Z geeked out on the latest viral video trends at VidCon, the world's largest online video conference. I asked three of the smartest people in the industry on video tech and culture about the biggest trends they saw on the ground this year.
The Atlantic's tech culture guru Taylor Lorenz on what creators are into:
Digiday's marketing reporter Kerry Flynn on marketing and brand takeaways:
Tubefliter's Founder and CEO Drew Baldwin on the conference overall:
Diversity takes center stage: VidCon, which was acquired by Viacom earlier this year, has been pushing to welcome a more diverse community of creators since its inception in 2010. According to VidCon, there was an increased focus on diversity this year: 40% of the creators this year were of color and 50% of the creators this year were women.
The topic of immigration reached a tipping point on June 19, 2018, when it rose to the fourth most viewed topic in Parse.ly, a traffic analstics firms', network of thousands of publishers.
"Compared to the average, twice as many people found immigration topics through Facebook, indicating that audiences are sharing their opinions publicly and encouraging their friends and family to read more."— Andrew Montalenti - Chief Technology Officer - Parsely, Inc.
Why it matters: The ability to understand and analyze this type of data will roll out today through a new Parse.ly product for publishers called Currents, which measures attention — real people spending real time reading articles published by the world’s biggest content publishers.
A quiet wager has taken hold among researchers who study artificial intelligence techniques about whether someone will create a so-called Deepfake video about a political candidate that receives more than 2 million views before getting debunked by the end of 2018, writes Jeremy Tsu for IEEE Spectrum, a magazine edited by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
What's next? Platforms are investing in technology to help expose Deepfakes and get ahead of misinformation in the form of doctored pictures and videos. Truepic, a startup that adds URL watermarks to pictures and videos shot through its technology, has raised $8M to expose Deepfakes and verify photos for Reddit, per TechCrunch.
Marketers are putting pressure on social media influencers to stop using fake accounts and followers to inflate their authority.
Throwback: The New York Times' "Follower Factory" expose details the millions of dollars spent in the fake follower industry.
Mobile paid search will drive Internet advertising revenue through 2022, according to a new Media and Entertainment Outlook from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Mobile display will also continue to grow by over 50% between 2018 and 2022.