Yes, we’ve had a few years we’ve called “The Year of Video” and yes I think 2017 will be importantly different than those other years. In the past, when we talked about the “Year of Video,” we were primarily focused on existing video content. But I see subtle changes taking place this year not about existing video content but rather video infiltrating areas of media consumption that haven’t traditionally had much video content.
In the middle of a week, a few weeks ago, I found myself in New York City spending the day with some of the top tech journalists on the planet. The day included a CES Facebook Live chat among other video conversations I took part in. Every journalist and editor I spoke with, without exception, said they are experimenting with video and plan to do even more in 2017. All agreed the views totals make it a difficult medium to overlook but also recognize the inherent difficulty in monetizing the engagement.
I think the shift to video is happening everywhere. Static pictures are morphing into video clips with Live Photo. Snapchat’s platform creates the semblance of video by stringing static pictures and short video clips together. In 2016 Instagram followed suite by creating Instagram Stories. I’m increasingly seeing 360 degree photos embedded into online articles. When read on touchscreens, you can use your finger to move the photo around in order to view different parts of the image, or on mobile devices like your phone, you can simply move your phone around to see different part of the 360 degree image.
And yes, VR will also help accelerate shifts toward video consumption in 2017 and beyond (with an emphasis on the beyond part). Sure there are plenty who were underwhelmed with VR in 2016, but I have to wonder what their expectations were. We have to remember just how nascent this technology is. At the start of 2016 we didn’t even anticipate some of the core hardware would be available before the final weeks of the year (read: PlayStation VR). How high could realistic expectations have been?
For the most part, 2016 was the year of VR hardware and the leading hardware manufacturers delivered as promised. We have a very long ways to go (read: years). But there is a tremendous amount of investment currently flowing into VR content creation. More, whenever I’ve taken VR into classrooms, students are blown away by the experience. The K through 12 cohorts are increasingly accustomed to a 360 degree experience thanks to platforms like Mindcraft. Video everywhere, and VR content alike, will be natural extensions of what they are accustomed to.