Despite the shutdown last week of Go90, Verizon’s attempt to create mobile-first programming for young audiences, brands and marketers have more options for long-form online video than ever.
The three-year-old Go90 never quite figured out how to grab a big audience, or ad support, despite Verizon’s 151 million or so mobile customers. In completing the shutdown later this month, Verizon said it will give back the shows it commissioned, and absorb its employees elsewhere in the company. Ivana Kirkbride, who had been head of Go90, will become general manager of OTT for Verizon’s Oath Unit.
The company said it will now “focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today’s mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications.”
That sounds like they’ll be building online-video options for the many millions of legacy users still visiting sites such as AOL, HuffPost, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports. As 5G comes, Verizon will be able to build some powerful content options.
But brands shouldn’t be waiting for Verizon and 5G. Look at some of the recent news in online video:
- Instagram debuted IGTV, for videos of as much as an hour in length. Influencers will be colonizing this new app, which is tightly integrated into the Instagram mothership and its 1 billion users.
- IMGN Media raised $6 million to help its data-driven video initiatives such as Comedy.com and Viral Lab, its social-data platform. The company’s brands include Daquan, Soccermemes, and Journal, and the two-year-old company has already worked with brands such as Netflix, Burger King, MTV, Electronic Arts and Microsoft. IMGN backers for the Series A round included talent agency UTA, a joint venture between Israeli powerhouse Keshet and Dick Clark Productions, Big Block Capital Group and major media investor Ron Zuckerman.
- LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned professional network, has turned into a serious B2B opportunity 10 months after it launched native video. The VidCon influencer conference last month served as a coming-out party for the platform, which already is building its own stars and followings for B2B content. Imagine the potential for companies in CRM, Human Resources, marketing, IT and more to reach just the kinds of audiences they want for business purposes.
- Snapchat is expanding its Shows function, allowing a broader range of influencers access to the longer form videos in the shows. The mobile-first company is also beginning to roll out revenue-sharing for its ads, so those influencers can make a living, and are more likely to stick around. Finally, it’s also reportedly exploring adding games. All of those moves have big implications for brands trying to connect to the hard-to-reach teens who use Snapchat daily. And just wait for when the company to create or allow augmented-reality games. Those can be far more engaging and memorable experiences that brands should be clamoring to create.
- Facebook is continuing to invest heavily in its Watch episodic video initiative. The latest news: a reported $10 million spend for a reality show built around Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps the world’s greatest soccer player.
Brands are only a small portion of the entire universe of YouTube videos, according to analysis by Tubular Labs, which tracks 4 billion online videos. In part that’s because of the sheer overwhelming scale of YouTube, where around 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. It’s easy to feel lost there if you don’t have a smart video strategy to get your content seen.
But as more notable platforms roll out, such as IGTV, IMGN’s various brands and LinkedIn’s burgeoning native-video options, brands have fewer and fewer excuses for not investing in online video.
As one VidCon executive said to me, 20 years ago, if your company didn’t have an online site, it was effectively missing in action. No one could find it. Now, the same thing can be said about online video. Brands just need to figure out how to be there.