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"Defining the Continuum of Video with 4 Equations for Success" in Humanizing Technology

Is every type of video content the same? Of course not. And yet many talk about it like it is.

Many people and companies, especially ones in Silicon Valley, are focused on video. It makes sense. It’s the next mega trend after Internet and Mobile. But I find a lot of people, even inside the industry, talk about video as if it’s the same thing no matter where it’s deployed, what it looks like, the type of content or how long it is. The fact of the matter is I can identify at least 3 major different types, and even break that down into smaller chunks.

What makes me the expert? Well, nothing really except for the fact that I’ve been working in the industry and building video and mobile-related products for almost a decade across the entire continuum of the ecosystem. So, it’s not just commentary from the outside. It’s commentary from talking to the various players, investors, customers, and creators.

I’m writing this guide because the next time you read a report or blog post, and they don’t mention which area along this continuum they’re referring to, or they seem to leap around across this continuum, then you know that they probably don’t have all their facts straight. So here they are.

The Continuum of Video.

3 Major Areas of the Video Content Continuum

  1. Social Clips
  2. Monetizable Shorts
  3. Premium TV / Movies

In each case, there are different players with different viewers with different requirements.

On the Social side, it’s all about virality for marketing purposes. You’re either marketing yourself (insta-famous!), your company (Coca-Cola = happiness), or your cause (climate change!). In each case, you’re looking for brand awareness and hopefully to drive towards some action (follow, share, purchase, sign up, etc).

On the Monetizable side, you have MCNs (multi channel networks) and the big social stars who get paid by sponsors to promote their products. Disney bought Maker for $1 billion to drive Millennials to watch Star Wars and Avengers and buy merchandise. Pew Di Pie is the big guy on YouTube. But they give up 45% of their ad revenue (smaller compared to sponsorship revenue). The requirement here is about ContentID. You don’t want someone ripping your make-up tutorial off and posting it to their own Facebook page to get more views. It’s your content, you own it. Like a social DRM.

And finally on the Premium side, you’ve got Hollywood-grade movies and TV shows. They want you to pay to download, rent or subscribe (instead of being supported by ads) and they want the content ecrypted in cement and chains so people can’t pirate it through Popcorn Time. The battle rages on but everyone knows that OTT subscribers are driven by the most popular titles (read: Netflix deal to stream Disney’s Star Wars and Avengers content).

So are there sub sections within each of the 3 major sections of this continuum? Of course there are.

Like most things in nature, video too is a fractal. It’s the same whether you zoom in or zoom out.

Each social network is different and you can’t just take a trailer from a 2-hour movie, upload it to one of these places and expect it to get a reaction. It requires entirely different content for an entirely different medium inside an entirely different aspect of the Video Continuum.

Videos are not the same just because the file ends in .mp4. Length of video + monetization method + delivery mechanism = type of content you need to create


1 second videos feel like a lifetime. The main interaction users have here are what I call a “fast-tap”. You tap, tap, tap, tap through content so quickly that you can almost barely register what you’re looking at. It’s a seemingly never-ending stream of selfies and innocuous videos of who knows what.

And so it’s not even 1 second. You have to count it in milliseconds. VR’s threshold is 20 milliseconds where the viewer can’t notice a lag in the stream. So, I’m guessing Snapchat’s standard view time on a story is more like 100 to 500 milliseconds.

That’s not enough time for an ad. It’s only enough time for a slightly moving background with a logo on it. That’s why ads have become geo-filters instead of checkins and augmented reality 3D video lenses instead of photo filters. “Put an Iron Man mask on yourself and make a funny face”.

100 milliseconds + filters + fast-taps = Snapchat video


85% of all videos watched are with the sound OFF. This isn’t a surprising finding, but very few are actually producing content specific to this medium. If you’ve got someone talking in front of a camera, it’s going to appear pretty boring to the viewer. What’s really needed is some quick action in the first second as a user scrolls by to capture their attention AND a text overlay with a message. It’s not rocket science, you just have to do the work.

1 second + text overlay/no sound + scrolling = Facebook video


YouTube isn’t a social network. It’s a lean-back experience. You’ve got anywhere from 1 minute to 15 minutes on average with a viewer here, save for the music videos. More recently, they’ve also discovered the power of the Talent with lots of subscribers and premium content so they’re trying to move into this area. But there’s a reason you never see a Hollywood movie or TV show here. They’d never give up 45% of their revenue and they don’t want to be associated with a lot of the uncouth content that’s on there.

5 minutes + HD quality + lean back = YouTube Video


They’ve remained consistent with their content and service offering, the only difference is the technology they’ve used to deliver it. Before, it was DVDs. Today, it’s streaming over-the-top (OTT). And they charge you a monthly subscription.

Fun fact, Piksel powers 85 million subscribers to OTT services globally (30% of the total market). That’s as big as Netflix.

So, Netflix is all about premium content with premium protection and the highest quality possible.

2 hours + UHD quality + lean back = Netflix video

These are just 4 specific examples of the equations you must use if you want your content to shine at different areas of the Continuum of Video. You must think of the platform, but also of the viewer, and then see how it corresponds across a continuum.

Because the future of content isn’t just about shortening a 2 hour Star Wars movie into a trailer or viral clips, it’s also about changing that content to fit.

— Sean

Defining the Continuum of Video with 4 Equations for Success was originally published in Humanizing Technology on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

from Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/1UmnUON