Video Marketing Trends: Insights And Predictions From 15 Experts

Better storytelling and longer videos among keys to success for brands next year.

By Greg Jarboe


We recently discovered that 300 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute and mobile makes up almost 50 percent of YouTube's global watch time. Meanwhile, Facebook has rolled out sponsored video ads for brands within the News Feed with a $1 million-a-day price tag, Yahoo recently acquired BrightRoll for approximately $640 million in cash, and AOL has just acquired Vidible. Senior marketers should already be gearing up for next year’s campaigns, but what will be the top video marketing trends that will provide new opportunities? Here are insights and predictions from 15 of the top video marketing experts.

Jonathan Allen, Founder of L&T Co.

What do I think will be the biggest trend (or top trends) we can expect to see in video/YouTube marketing? In short, creating a video strategy that is designed to be hosted on a domain, rather than creating it specifically for other networks that you must then rely on for exposure.

With content that you believe could go viral, resist the temptation to immediately release your video to the largest audience. The best videos aren’t always found first on YouTube, as low view counts can discourage sharing. Instead, publish to smaller, more limited audiences via niche networks that don’t necessarily display view counts, letting the work speak far more for itself.

I’m referring to a video hosts like Vimeo and Wistia. You can even indulge the important few by exclusively releasing the video to a cadre of friends through Facebook or a private viewing for industry influencers on LinkedIn.

If people are delighted to find it, they’ll be delighted to share it. Moreover, when it’s harder to find a quality video, it creates more incentive to share it. That’s how you “get it out there.”

And if your video still doesn’t take off at first, rest easy: the period during which your video remains “undiscovered” is the ideal opportunity to reach out to all kinds of different blogs, irrespective of how well-known they are. Test out a variety of angles and ways to talk about the video when you contact them, even on public forums like Reddit and Twitter. That relatively few people have seen your video provides a huge incentive for influential blogs and communities to scoop up the story and share it exclusively with their audiences.

In my experience, a video can remain in an “undiscovered state” for months before suddenly going viral and racking up a million views. But you might stop me there and ask, “How do you know the view count if you’ve not been publishing to YouTube?”

This brings me to the final part of my tip. In the period between being a zero and being a hero, publish to YouTube right at the tipping point—when the video starts generating responses online and shows the potential to go viral. You’ll create extra momentum and assure yourself that the low view count of a new upload won’t stay low for long.

Rob Ciampa, CMO at Pixability, @robciampa

The battle between YouTube and Facebook will be the main focus. In this war though, everyone will win. It’s not going to be a choice of one video platform over the other; instead, successful brand marketers will put a combination of the two to work.

At the practical level, we will enter the age of transparency. As a result of the corruption and ad fraud, we’ll see advertisers shift toward more mainstream video ad platforms, opting to partner only with trusted adtech sources. Video analytics will play a much more important role, and we’ll see demand for more robust reporting.

We also anticipate more video ad interactivity, including smarter, dynamic annotations and customized, geo-based annotations. We’ll see an overall increase in ad spend on YouTube, and more sophisticated mobile video advertising. We also expect to see better organized and more effectively managed channels, including a balance between advertising and content. We’re past the age of throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.

Crystal Dahlen, Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google

Each year, we take a look at the top ads that resonate with people on YouTube. This year, we found that:

  • On average, ads are nearly 50 percent longer this year, but people watched them 50 percent more.
    • People watched more than 1 billion minutes of just the top 10 ads this year – 54 percent more than last year.
    • The top 10 ads were 47 percent longer this year – averaging 3 minutes in length.
  • When we launched the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, the top 10 ads earned 200 million views. This year, the top 10 ads more than doubled that view count, earning 425 million views.

Common themes of the top ads:

  • From 30 Seconds to 3 Minutes: Ads on YouTube have gone from traditional 30 second ad spots to much longer videos that tell a story. In fact, the top 10 ads this year averaged 3 minutes in length – more than five times the duration of a typical ad spot. The Nike Football “Winner Stays” video, which earned the number one spot with nearly 100 million views, clocks in at 4:12.
  • Sports events have gone YouTube: This was a big year for live sports with the Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Cup. We found that brands are increasingly using YouTube to reach fans before and after the games. And for good reason – the top 10 Super Bowl and World Cup ads this year earned a remarkable 14 million hours of watch time, with 75 percent of those hours consumed before or after the events themselves.
  • Creator collaborations have exploded: We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the number of brands collaborating with YouTube creators to develop original content on YouTube. Since there were so many to recognized, this year we broke out the top collaboration videos.

To celebrate this year’s top ads around the world, we teamed up with Kurt Hugo Schneider to remix them into an original video to the tunes of YouTube creators Scott Bradlee from ScottBradleeLovesya, Taylor Davis, Mike Relm, and Michael Thurber. You can watch “ YouTube Ads Rewind: A Global Look Back”:

Rob Davis, Executive Director of Content Marketing at OgilvyOne

will be a year of reckoning for video strategies across a wide swath of brands, as a maturing marketplace increases business expectations for customer engagement, content effectiveness and clear ROI. This drive for performance will result in three specific trends to watch.

1. The Return Of Storytelling

Conventional wisdom has been telling us that customers have short attention spans and the only way to reach them is through short “snackable” content. Our industry seems to have accepted as fact that low video viewing rates are the result of this consumer trait.

Rarely have I heard anyone suggest that maybe customers don’t engage because so many videos are… well… not very good. It is easier to blame the audience than to force the kind introspection that results from an honest assessment of how a brand communicates.

Yet, here we are deep in the holiday season and the hot brand video is not a Vine. It is not micro. It is a two minute long, emotional story of a UPS driver and his 4 year-old friend (full disclosure, UPS is an Ogilvy client).

2. Understanding The Value Of Building And Maintaining An Audience

Brands are waking up to the fact that the most successful video producers are those cultivating their own audiences. The top YouTube creators have invested in building a lasting bond between storyteller and viewer, a bond cemented simply by clicking “subscribe.”

As brands become more comfortable with their new role as direct communicators, they will also take ownership of developing and maintaining a direct video-based relationship with their customers. Subscribers become ambassadors that the brand can reach simply by publishing new content. Only a handful of companies are focused on this now, but it as a customer engagement trend that I expect many brands to follow.

3. Full Funnel Video Marketing

will be the year of full-funnel video marketing. We are already seeing signs of this trend, as brands that have played in the top of funnel “viral” space become more adept at using video for conversion and loyalty.

At larger brands, we will continue to see upper funnel mass market content, while those with mature video strategies will simultaneously align content production and distribution to CRM and marketing automation systems. For small and mid-market brands, I expect to a see a greater focus on lower funnel video content where metrics around conversion are more important than views, likes or shares.

Our industry is done with the race to the bottom to make the shortest or cheapest (or shortest and cheapest) videos possible. is the year of customer engagement and renewed video strategies. It will be interesting to watch these trends develop and see which brands rise to the top by this time next year.

John Follis, President / Creative Director of Big Idea Video

For, one trend I see is the continued explosion of animated, explainer-type videos.

A couple of years ago, the term “explainer video” didn’t even exist., I think most businesses and organizations will have one.

Brendan Gahan, Founder of EpicSignal, @brendangahan

is going to be a wakeup call for many brands. Those who have forced themselves to abandon old habits, adopted digital video aggressively and learned to adjust their approaches to fit the platform best are going to win.

Today the majority of brands are still trying to find their footing on YouTube and beyond. The needs and expectations of video on one platform vary drastically from the next. It’s not one-size fits all.

With the launch of Google Preferred this past year we saw that there is still an overwhelming desire for brands to buy media the same way they bought TV 50 years ago - buying media months in advance with few opportunities to optimize. Advertisers have taken a system that worked in the early days and applied it today where the same rules no longer apply.

Brands are continuing to follow old TV habits on the production side as well. Production is becoming commoditized and it’s no longer necessary to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create something great - although many brands still continue to spend as if that’s the case. While brands are spending millions, the top YouTube creators are generating millions of views and subscribers using only their webcams and cell phones.

This kind of change is happening everywhere with the advent of new technology - this creates opportunity in the space between the possibilities which new technology provides and the incumbents unable or unwilling to adapt.

The same way Uber disrupted the taxi industry by capitalizing on new technologies to connect passengers directly to drivers – so too is the new ad ecosystem disrupting old advertising habits by efficiently connecting advertisers to consumers, without all the bloat and overhead costs of a bygone era. The efficiencies technology has made available to brands in the media and production spaces weren’t possible until recently - much in the same way the technology for ordering a cab over a mobile phone wasn’t possible until just a few years ago.

However, the same way taxis missed the opportunities which Uber has capitalized on, many incumbent brands are missing out on possibilities available to them today.

The brands that are going to win are those that embrace this ecosystem and explore new ways of buying and creating content. This means collaborating with influencers, optimizing media buys, and creating content that audiences are asking for.

Cortney Henseler, Director of Consumer Insights at AOL

When consumers are distracted, advertising pays the price. Distracted video viewing dramatically impacts advertising effectiveness from ad recall to persuasion.

On average, when people are distracted by a device, their ad recall went down by 43 percentage points. When a viewer is distracted by another person, their recall went down by 52 percentage points.

Measurement, however, has not adapted to take this fragmented attention into account. Reach and frequency alone are no longer sufficient for video planning and measurement.

Greg Jarboe, President and Co-Founder of SEO-PR

Last year, most online video marketers spent a lot of time focused on the battle for short-form video consumption. Mobile apps like Vine and Video on Instagram forced us to rethink a lot of assumptions even if we continued creating mid-form content for YouTube or Vimeo.

Next year, many of us will want to spend a lot of time focused on the battle for long-form consumption. “Premium” video content offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video will probably force us to rethink more assumptions even if we continue creating mid-form content for YouTube and Facebook.

In fact, if you want to see one of the opening clashes in this global campaign, then you’ll need to watch Marco Polo on Netflix, which premiered on Dec. 12, 2104. It’s worth noting that the first official trailer for the new Netflix original series appears on YouTube. It shows you a glimpse of the little-known beginnings of the legendary explorer, whose life of adventure began as a ward of the powerful 13th century Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.

Laney Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing, Clearleap

In we’re going to see a much greater push in online video marketing and more proportional spending. Not so long ago advertisers were spending 45 percent of their advertising on TV when people were only watching it 38 percent of the time.

Next year, I think we’ll see more of a shift toward bridging this digital divide and aligning advertising with consumer habits. Some brands have already started. Take Ruffles, for example – they went from spending about 29 percent of their advertising budget on digital to nearly 100 percent.

Carla Marshall, Managing Editor of ReelSEO

Brands are starting to realize that, beyond paid and owned media, there is a third way to reach their target audience. And that’s via earned media.

Currently, the ratio of fan-generated video content vs branded content on YouTube stands at roughly 9:1 across most of the major verticals like beauty, gaming, and how-to and style. In the beauty category alone, major brands have only generated 3 percent of the 14.9 billion beauty-related video views on YouTube, with the other 97 percent of views going to independent creators. With 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, I can only see that percentage growing.

There are a huge number of creators that are native to the YouTube platform, and have developed their content along with the needs of their audience. These Influencers are the ones driving views, and the unboxing videos, haul videos, walk-throughs, and reviews they create are the ones that are getting the attention, the views, and the engagement. I see a lot more brands taking advantage of this, and teaming up on collaborations with YouTubers to leverage the audience these creators have built up.

Devra Prywes, VP of Marketing & Insight for Unruly

Moment Marketing will take off.

What is moment marketing? It’s not about reacting in the moment (e.g. not creating another Oreo/Super Bowl event) – but rather identifying the moments that are meaningful to your customers and planning in advance to add value at that particular point in time.

Marketers will use real-time data and real-world signals to set rules that programmatically boost ads (or specific creatives) against real-life events that affect consumer behavior. Here’s a few to consider:

  • Weather: Increase the presence of your Caribbean resort video advertising when the temperature drops 10 degrees overnight in New York and your island has a temp over 80 degrees;
  • Sports/events: Boost when the athlete your brand sponsors makes a game-changing move in a televised sporting event
  • TV: Intensify the reach and frequency of your video ads for a set period of time after your TV ad airs, ambush customers when your competitor’s ads are on TV, or even schedule your digital spots against the ad breaks in specific TV shows (at a fraction of the cost of the TV buy).
  • Shopping/location: Message consumers on their smartphone in a specific location in or near a point of purchase using beacons/geo-fencing.

Dan Ripoll, Co-Founder & CEO, ContentBLVD

Brands will cede more control to YouTube talent.

The power of YouTube is its authenticity. Fans feel directly connected to their favorite YouTube stars, making YouTube an incredible influencer marketing medium.

As brand integrations like product placements, product reviews and sponsored videos become more popular on YouTube, brands are learning that to collaborate effectively, they can’t dictate the terms of the agreement.

Most marketing collaborations have been demand-driven: brands tell media partners what kinds of placements they want to buy, either through RFPs, or media buyers, or good old email outreach. But a broker model, where buyers are out saying what they want to pay for has never worked as well as a seller’s marketplace where the people with something to sell run the show. Think of eBay, Amazon, or your local grocery store; the inventory they have available dictates what you get to buy.

Why does this apply to YouTube? Because YouTubers with popular channels are in demand and getting pitched by brands all the time.

As demand grows, supply becomes more valuable, and YouTubers know it. They also know their audience and what kind of integrations will play best. They have their own creative vision to protect. It’s what got them their valuable audience in the first place!

The brands who let YouTubers sit in the driver’s seat will be the ones who reap the rewards of connecting with their audience in fun and authentic ways.

Manny Rivas, Online Advertising Director at aimClear

Expect brands’ reach into YouTube communities to widen, not only through native advertising, but through collaboration campaigns with YouTube influencers via Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) and other budding services built around demand.

Devices used to access video will continue to diversify, making a truly device agnostic viewer. This confluence also has implications for expanded ad inventory as well as contextual targeting options.

Third-party (ad, reporting/analysis, competitive) tools will in all likelihood continue to surface designed to meet needs and demands of MCN’s, brands, agencies, media companies/publishers and emerging creators.

Tim Schmoyer, Founder of Video Creators

In I expect to see a greater shift toward storytelling among YouTube video marketers. Product endorsements and brand integrations have been successful for many brands, but marketers are learning that YouTube audiences build emotional, human connections with creators through the stories they’re telling.

This will play out in two ways.

  • Instead of just working with creators who share the brand’s target audience, brands will look for creators whose stories intersect with their own. The cross section of shared beliefs and story with creators and audiences will result in not only the best results for the brand, but also in a campaign that’s extremely valuable to the creator and their viewers.
  • Brands will take more initiative to wrap their own videos with stories that are meaningful to them and their customers. This kind of native advertising will help brands create an emotional, human connection with their own audience.

In I hope many brands will use this powerful connection with audiences to not only generate revenue, but also to change lives for the better.

Those will be the brands that win in the long-run.

Jeremy Vest, Founder & CEO of Vidpow

In I think many brands are going to stop using YouTube as a dumping ground for TV commercials and other types of content that largely don’t work well on YouTube.

Brands are starting to realize that they have to create content worth watching. Content that is good enough to entertain, educate or inform and content that is worth a like, share or comment. The only way to gain constant views is to develop an audience by constantly releasing content that people want to watch.

I also think that large sums of money coming from traditional advertising like TV, magazines and radio will find its way to video advertising. Within video ads I think the industry will get very smart with targeting customers and measuring ROI.

What do you think will be the top video marketing trends?