You’ve heard from us about what the biggest online-video deals and moments of 2014, and what they mean for the industry in 2015 and beyond. But, we’re not the only ones with opinions. (Shocker, we know.) With that in mind, we reached out to a wide swath of smart people who are knowledgeable about online video, and asked them to tell us what to expect in 2015.
Here are some of our favorite answers (though we don’t necessarily agree with all of them):
Well, first of all…
Gayle Gilman, EVP of Digital Content, FremantleMedia North America, GM, Tiny Riot: We will stop calling it online video. Video is video, and almost all video is online at some point in its life cycle.
Traditional media was hot-and-heavy for online video in 2014; that’s not going to change.
Fred Seibert, Founder and CEO, Frederator Networks: M&A will continue by major traditional media companies…and the companies they’ve already bought.
David Freeman, Co-Head, Digital Content and Brand Partnerships, CAA: Traditional media will continue to swallow up digital platforms and production companies. We saw a significant amount of major acquisitions in 2014 and that trend will continue in 2015. There are still a few MCNs out there, as well as emerging platforms who will make it easier for a traditional media company to get in the game versus building it themselves.
Rick Heitzmann, Founder & Managing Director, FirstMark Capital: There will be a major acquisition or joint venture of online video across traditional cable assets and traditional online assets (think Scripps and Yahoo, or maybe Hearst and AOL?).
David Anderson, SVP, MediaLink: The remaining traditional media companies that do not have a digital video strategy will get there in 2015 either via acquisition or internal investment.
Sarah Penna, Co-Founder, Big Frame: More consolidation of the MCNs.
That said, acquisitions and consolidations haven’t been exclusive to MCN Land, nor will they be.
Ran Harnevo, Former President of Video, AOL: Programmatic video will go mainstream, and we will see more consolidation. AOL’s acquisition of Adap.tv was followed by Facebook and Yahoo buying LiveRail and BrightRoll, respectively. It’s clear that advertisers are adopting ad technologies at a much faster pace than anticipated. This trend will only accelerate, and the increased competition will force big players to own full stacks, including strong data, multiscreen, and attribution capabilities.
Seth Bardelas, Heady of Agency Development, TubeMogul: 2015 will be the year of consolidation within the technology and data platform space. FreeWheel to Comcast, BrightRoll to Yahoo, and Datalogix to Oracle are examples of just a few of the 2014 movements, and I expect 2015 to continue at an increased rate as more and more technologies, data platform, and attribution companies continue to consolidate.
Brian Fitzgerald, Co-Founder and President, Evolve Media: Publishing will continue to consolidate, as headwinds make it difficult to publish quality content unless it’s at scale.
Ad tech (as a whole) will continue to improve, until we get it perfect!
Colin Kinsella, CEO, Mindshare North America: Programmatic video; marketers are looking for scale and efficiency. Targeting will get better and we’ll see better and more premium inventory.
Mike Henry, CEO, Outrigger Media: The programmatic video ecosystem added premium inventory and TV-like measurement in 2014 which fueled serious consideration from TV media buyers. Look for that consideration to grow into real spending in 2015, but also for brighter battle lines amongst the DSPs over unique access to this inventory.
Seth Bardelas: The impact of viewability and ad fraud detection will force agencies, marketers, publishers, and buying platforms to revisit traditional buying models potentially in favor of new models that take into account these two issues, which became two of the hottest topics in the entire industry in 2014.
Brian Fitzgerald: First-party publisher data will become even more valuable, as marketers are looking for credible, verified audience data against high-value enthusiast and influencer segments.
Content will get better.
Colin Kinsella: More mobile savvy; videos will be much shorter, more frequent, and more targeted. We learned in 2014 that people love to watch video on mobile, what they don’t love is long-form video. Short
bursts that are more frequent and culturally relevant work best in most cases. They’re conversation starters for social and highly sharable. And, with better targeting, the messages will get to the right conversations.
Claudia Cahill, Chief Content Officer, OMD: The art and science of content will be leaning more heavily in the direction of science this year — with “Intelligent Content” emerging. This is content that is driven by strategy and preference data on the front end and closed-loop performance analytics on the back end.
David Tochterman: There will be an increase in opportunity in the space between the online cable networks (Netflix/Amazon/Hulu) and YouTube. Specifically for long-form storytelling that will be brand supported and driven by data and distribution in order to unlock brand sponsorship dollars.
Mia Goldwyn, Chief Content Officer, StyleHaul: It will become more interactive and cross platform, in both distribution and storytelling.
Karen Cahn, Founder, VProud: People are going to get super-sick of “Buzzfeed-type” videos, if they aren’t already. I mean, how many “If Some Minority Said The Stuff White People Say” videos can one planet stand?
Advertisers will be better, too.
Colin Kinsella: More real-time content; marketers will better understand how to ‘plan for agility’ and better capture cultural moments with real-time video content.
Speaking of which, have you heard? Brands can be publishers!
David Freeman: We’ve been talking about this for years but this will be the year when brands start to think like programmers and true publishers. Most brands to date have played in the “branded entertainment” space but it’s time for them to get out of the one-off, campaign-driven space and into creating real sustainable IP that can drive marketing value and be monetized across multiple windows.
Jason Berger, Founder, Kids at Play: To stay relevant, they’ll need to build more street cred with their consumers. Even though people are still struggling to figure out the monetization of online video, they still need to be attaching themselves to online content in order to be in the zeitgeist.
Eric Day, Co-Founder, Trium Entertainment: I fear that 2015 will be another year for digital networks dipping their toes in the water with shopping agreements that end up going nowhere. Advertisers need to believe the networks are investing in these properties before they put their own money in. If not, they just go it alone. Which is why in 2015 we’ll see more brands follow Red Bull and Marriott into the original programming space, as publishers. Jury is still out if that’s a smart move, but it’s certainly only erodes any leverage the digital networks have.
YouTube stars will continue to grow their influence; won’t just be YouTube stars.
Fred Seibert: We’ll see more and more creators leaving the mass aggregator MCNs and moving toward niche MCNs.
Dean Gilbert, Investor-Advisor, Victorious, Tastemade, Wochit, Many Others: 2015 will be the year we begin to see large-scale disintermediation by creators away from the aggregators to O&O platforms where they can connect directly with their audiences; it will be the year of the unbundling of creator and influencer brands.
Michael Wayne, Founder and CEO, Kin: Brands will continue to invest in creators on YouTube and continue to understand the value that creators have, how powerful relationships are with audience.
David Freeman: 2015 will be the year when digital talent starts to show its true influence and media muscle. Their audiences are coveted from not only advertisers but media companies as well. As this occurs traditional
media will finally realize the power of talent owning their own audiences and be forced to figure out what this means for their own businesses. You will see more digital talent launch their own subscription-based shows, merchandise, and touring events. Additionally traditional and digital endemic talent will collaborate more than ever in 2015 to capitalize on each other strengths! And these types of partnerships and program will become the norm.
Eric Day: As evidenced by Trium’s upcoming Oxygen project or even Grace Helbig’s show with E!, we’ll see more digital properties jump to TV. My hope is that we’ll respect the differences between the mediums — and, perhaps most importantly, we’ll not try to force fit what’s working digitally into traditional TV formats.
David Anderson: The most engaged digital video brands will gain TV-like distribution that’s indistinguishable from legacy channels, and will become true, direct threats to established brands.
David Tochterman, President, Versatility Media, Partner, Pemberley Digital: There will be intensifying challenges for Google and the MCNs in terms of competing for talent and exclusivity, resulting in more creative and flexible models for talent partnerships.
Speaking of MCNs… Maybe it’s time for them to evolve.
Mike Henry: In 2015, YouTube MCNs that grow their business (as opposed to relatively unimportant channel/view counts) will succeed by choosing between a much more vertical or a much more horizontal offering to advertisers. On the vertical path, that looks like a cable network plus a talent management company. On the horizontal path, that looks more like a tech stack plus a production company.
Eric Korsh, SVP, Brand Social.Content, DigitasLBi: For MCNs, maybe the term will stick, but they will change dramatically. These companies will diversify beyond talent agencies with rented media/audiences and start to deliver better content, better analytics, and new revenue streams — if they want to survive beyond acquisition.
Some MCNs, and multiple TV networks and studios, are exploring the over-the-top and SVOD route, but will it be worth it?
Dean Gilbert: 2015 will be the year that wasn’t for SVOD — overhyped, overcrowded, and without any material traction.
Fred Seibert: OTT will be talked about endlessly, but no one will have a major success here because no one programs or knows how to build a real, loyal, and engaged audience on their OTT platforms. They start with monetization in mind, not the audience.
Connected-TVs, already a major home for OTT and SVOD, will take on more relevance.
Ran Harnevo: 2015 will be the year of the connected-TV. As HBO is about to launch a competitor to Netflix,
and Vessel and Fullscreen try and create an SVOD product for the YouTube audience, we’re going to see more and more players make meaningful investments toward connected-TV offerings. Technology has matured, and the audience is coming. I expect to see more traditional TV players and major startups going into this space by launching verticalized subscription (and free) streaming products. This, of course, means more money for original productions, which would be the core differentiator between the products.
Overall, as the walls between digital and traditional media collapse, digital will become even more important to content development and distribution.
Mia Goldwyn: Digital will play an even more important role as a launching pad for content and IP.
Jonathan Carson, Chief Revenue Officer, Vevo: I predict more video-first music releases. Building on the trend set by Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and One Direction, we’ll see more artists release their music via video in 2015 with audio following.
But how about the people watching all this content?
Dean Gilbert: 2015 will be year of the super-fan — what this means we will begin to learn and understand in 2015.
And last but not least, let’s not ignore that small, maybe-insignificant trend where YouTube, after a decade of dominance, might finally have some competition…
Ran Harnevo: In the last few years, it’s become clear that digital content creators have lost too much power to the big internet platforms. That will change as content creators accelerate their power and influence in the coming years. We will see more platforms rising to solve the monetization challenges these digital stars are currently facing. A lot of this innovation is happening in LA, which is becoming a real hotbed the intersection of content and technology.
Jason Berger: Places like Facebook, Vessel, Vimeo, etc. are making a huge run at YouTube. Hopefully this will open up the landscape for more content creators to create content and get paid more reasonably for their content.
Rick Heitzmann: Facebook Video will become a threat to YouTube with similar reach (1 billion-plus potential viewers) but less depth of content.
Gayle Gilman: 100 new platforms will emerge looking for content…..so get ready to be busy.
For other best-of lists, as well as profiles of the creators, networks, and stories that dominated the online-video news cycle in 2014, check out the rest of our 2014 “VideoInk Entertainers of the Year” special issue.