New video platforms have an opportunity to build more than the ‘Netflix of X’ if we think deeper about content, connection and conversion.
The democratization of video tools and platforms has enabled creators to produce the never ending sea of content we see across the internet. Couple this with existing libraries, and you’ll see that there isn’t a lack of content. We just need better platforms to access it.
It’s Time to Usher in the Next Wave of Video Platforms
The first platforms have been ‘vessels’ for all this content, but let’s be honest, its become a hot mess. When we search, we get served content from the highest bidder and scroll feeds that have everything from people broadcasting themselves mixed in with content from ‘accredited’ sources.
There are over 500 hours of video uploaded on YouTube every minute and 95 million posts a day on Instagram. There is no way any of us can or needs to be able to keep up with this much content being produced. Most of this content is dead on arrival making the shelf life less than 24 hours on most platforms. So how are we building platforms to distribute the best content available?
As time has gone on, both creators and viewers have become exhausted from the constant churn and yearn to see and be seen above the noise of saturated platforms. Instead of building yet another shelf for video to sit, we have an opportunity to build a better way to connect people to what’s around them — by their interests and proximity.
Content, connection and conversion are the 3Cs every video platform will need to build a strategy around to succeed.
My North Star from working in media for 15 years has been:
“Content builds connection. Connection builds trust. Trust drives conversion.”
Content is what connects viewers to a brand and platform, which helps form the relationship needed to gain their trust. Trust opens up a relationship with viewers and an opportunity to serve them. The content strategy needs to be thoughtful and at the forefront when thinking about how your platform will provide value to viewers.
So let’s break this down and go over some of the elements that go into building a video platform. Some are newly coined terms that will surely become mainstream.
When we take a look at video content, it falls into these categories:
User generated content (UGC) — crowdsourced content anyone can post
Intellectual property (IP) — creative content with exclusive rights
Verified account content (VAC) — content from confirmed accounts
User generated content has been the source of how social platforms run, but as we value more trusted sources and better time spent, curation will be a priority. User generated content was the ‘go to’ strategy to gain content and network effects, but the aftermath of misinformation and hostile online environments has been damaging.
When we think about video, it can be more than a widget of entertainment. It can be a utility to drive connection and conversion. We see that in platforms like YouTube that serve ‘how to’ videos attached to products, and on Disney+ that uses the Star Wars franchise to sell tickets to its parks and toys. Also worth noting, more and more people are consuming video and will opt to watch rather than read.
Knowing this, there is an opportunity to position video across all categories of interests, information and industries to facilitate people’s queries, simply — and attach ways to connect further online and offline. Thinking about whether to serve UGC, IP or VAC video is where your platform can set the tone for the experience, trust and connection you’re building with viewers.
“What you tolerate [on your platform] is what you are.” — Caterina Fake
IP content can be the most expensive content to acquire and why only the big media and tech companies in the world can attempt to compete. Assuming most can’t compete for the best scripts and talent, a way to get around this is thinking about what access your platform can provide that others cannot, as well as what talent is being untapped that you can elevate.
Verified account content is a term we’ve coined thinking about how we can navigate a better, curated internet. We all have to admit, this can’t be how the internet will continue to exist as a ‘Wild West of Randomness’ serving unchecked sources from gamed algorithms. But I digress…
The Spotify model of having verified artist accounts with their quality controlled music libraries that people can search, discover new music and share our own playlists has proven to work. Couple that with the TV network model of programming channels, and you have a framework that will usher in VAC to become more prevalent across the internet. Especially after seeing the pitfalls of current platforms mishandling the flood of disinformation.
When it comes to deciding what kind of content to focus on, it’s important to have a good mix that draws on both universal and frequent behaviors of the viewer you’re targeting and feels authentic. This can be pulling on a viewer’s interests and habits to offering access and expertise in niche categories — using high end cameras or just a phone. The key is having a balance that provides value to your audience at unit economics that can bring in revenue now and in the long term.
Cultivating connection with viewers needs a 360° play that has a unique experience across devices and maximizes content.
We no longer think of media under the constraints of length, frequency or distribution, i.e. magazines, TV, podcasts, but framed more as experiences across devices. Each platform has to start with understanding the behaviors of each device, and then think about making the content scalable across all screens, in different formats, to reach viewers everywhere. I discuss how mobile is a ‘lean in’ experience and great for utility content, and how OTT/TV is a ‘lean back’ experience more suited for IP content in a previous article.
Each of these devices have different approaches to storytelling and ways to provide information. The fun part is coming up with differentiated content and determining the right frequency to publish. Again, there is only so much we can actually consume and retain, so thinking about 3–5 hours max of ‘live’ programming a day for news platforms, building libraries that tap into evergreen queries and scheduling ‘must see moments’ and releases is a way to provide viewers with content that can keep them coming back.
Accessibility is also important, so thinking about providing content in multiple languages and for the hearing impaired needs to be a part of every buildout. There are plugins to help and allows your content to reach people globally.
Each of these devices offers a different way to engage viewers and drive conversion using contextual search and curated discovery channels, which is where I see a big opportunity to come up with creative business models.
Using video to engage viewers opens up the opportunity to accelerate conversion, both online and offline.
Currently, most online video is passive. We watch it, and then another one auto plays after, or we keep scrolling. There’s a missed opportunity to ‘activate’ video beyond sitting on a shelf and provide more connection with an engaged viewer. It can lead to interesting ways to drive a new form of e-commerce. We see some social platforms attempting this, but viewers are not naturally inclined to do more than mindless swiping in feeds built for distraction. More intentional platforms are needed to spotlight businesses, products and services in the moment we’re actually ready to spend to increase conversion.
Business models for video platforms have either been subscription models, sustained by advertisements or a hybrid. We’re starting to see ‘QVC 2.0’ platforms try to sell products, but there’s an opportunity to turn video platforms into a marketplace for more than shopping. Which leads us to…
Algorithmic commerce (A-Comm) — online commerce driven by algorithms
Signal Liquidity — engagement data from video to power recommendations
Video content is the fastest way to engage viewers and capture multiple signals in a matter of seconds. This engagement data becomes the fuel to power recommendations with the help of AI & machine learning.
Commerce online is going to go well beyond contextual search and utilize signals from video to power algorithms for seamless recommendations. I’m not so sure about ‘zero-click’ as Prof G discusses in his podcast, but he’s definitely speaking to the inevitable with a-comm.
If we take a look at Netflix and TikTok, we can see how many engagement signals can potentially be captured to power recommendations for a viewer:
Using video to capture signals by viewer and enabling interaction allows you to have a more powerful recommendation engine. Interaction and recommendations from even 1 or 2 people you follow is more powerful than a list of written reviews from strangers, so it’s not even about the amount of people who say something is good. Again, it comes back to trust. When you couple the ability to see a video, the content on your platform can become a marketplace for connections that can convert both online and offline. Finding ways to add businesses, products, services, events and more ways to keep the connection going will help generate revenue and retention as well.
TL;DR — If I can leave you with this…
The development of new video platforms is crucial to the value of content and how we will discover and connect to the world around us. Video is the future of search and e-commerce, and this convergence will manifest itself in the form of video platforms focused on everyday utility.
The media industry hasn’t found a way to consolidate into a video platform that dominates video search and entertainment that activates a-commerce...yet. We’re stepping into a world that is more intentional, therefore platforms need to reflect this in the curation of content and how they connect with viewers. We need to move out of providing a buffet of subpar, unverified content and provide better experiences across all devices.
The formula for the third wave of video platforms will be finding a balance between:
Library of content + Frequency of behavior + Marketplace of connection
We’re going to need to upend current business models and build platforms that draw on frequent and universal behaviors to lead people to verified information. Figuring out how to acquire content efficiently and distribute it effectively will be key. But we can’t keep ignoring that current platforms are making content less valuable and that business models need to be reimagined.
My co-founder and I think about this everyday at BRIDGE Networks and what it will take to provide people with a ‘go to’ video platform to connect people to what’s around them — above the noise — locally and by interest that surprises and delights viewers to connect on our platform, anywhere in the world. Bottomline is the new wave of video platforms will need a thoughtful strategy focused on new approaches to content, connection and conversion to be valuable and sustainable in the future.
I welcome the opportunity to collaborate and discuss the future of how people will connect locally around the world, and ways we can be utilizing video to connect people to what’s around them to stimulate our local economies.
Thank you for reading! If you’re obsessed with media and excited for the future of video platforms like I am, here are more articles: