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Moving image: The future of communications

For as long as I can remember people have talked about our industry’s future belonging to data and technology. And they are of course right.

 

But many of the predictions for what kind of creative work would win through in this new data driven world were wider of the mark. They were forgetting something that no amount of data and technology will ever change.

 

Humans are wonderfully, illogically, emotional beings. We love to convince ourselves that we’re rational and logical and sensible. But we aren’t. We make irrational decisions. We fall in love. We dance. Sing. Do silly things just because they make us feel good. Make crazy shit up. We rail against algorithms, dictatorships, censorship and anything that prevents us from expressing how we feel. We won’t be spoon fed. I love that about us.

 

This infuriates all those who would turn what we creatives do into a science. Which I love too.

 

It seems that the basic human need for genuine connections is fast shaping the future of data and technology. Turns out that much of this wonderful technology is increasingly in service to the one thing that moving images can deliver better than any other medium. Emotion.

 

The written word and the static image are disappearing at a prodigious rate on online, social and news platforms. Before you choke on that prospect and reach for counter arguments, take a look at the evidence.

 

Twitter recently announced that they were doubling the amount of video content on their platform. Daily video views have doubled in the past year. And 30 new content partners have been announced to further encourage advertisers. MTV, ESPN, Buzzfeed, amongst them. They also have plans to launch their own streaming service next year. And half their revenue comes from video advertising which is only going to rise as its credibility as a content platform increases. And they aren’t alone. Social platforms are all investing heavily in TV type content. Snapchat plans to double the number of shows it creates to 80 this year. Facebook continue to develop Watch. And Instagram are looking at developing hour long content. As well as all the social platforms mobilising you also have extraordinary growth in pure play video platforms like Twitch, which has 15 million active daily users.

 

Still not convinced? Ok, how about this. A survey of teens and their social media habits show that in three years You Tube has come from literally nowhere to be the platform of choice. With 85% of teens using it. It has even become the second biggest search engine.

 

Whilst it’s true, the numbers of consumers turning away from traditional TV hit an all-time high in the last quarter of 2017, people aren’t turning away from the TV experience. It seems that the opposite is, in fact, true. All that really seems to be changing is where we go to have that experience. And it’s an experience we don’t seem to be able to get enough of.

 

This behaviour is likely to expand dramatically in the coming years as we grow ever more accustomed to it. Netflix, Prime and the catch up platforms have all demonstrated just how quickly we form new viewing habits.

 

But this change isn’t only in social media and TV streaming platforms. Recent years have also seen the plates shift in the magazine and newspaper worlds. Trying to find ways to survive, they too have developed social and online content offerings. And these content offerings are fast becoming click and play too. New York Times magazine is a great example. The whole thing is video based. But it’s a lot more than a few journos having a stab at content. It’s high end film that comes from a journalistic background.

 

Vogue are also smashing it with Vogue Video. It screams big budgets and feels like a serious brand in its own right, not a video baby sister. Its ‘73 Questions’ franchise is already a viral success. Vogue Video has over half a million subscribers and its growing 30% year on year.

 

Digital Out of Home (DOOH) has become a platform for short form moving content. Static OOH seems curiously dated suddenly. Even events and ‘live experiences’ are generally consumed via content films.

 

Moving image gives us such an amazing opportunity to engage. To stir up feelings, to capture the imagination in an instant. It’s not that words and stills can’t, it’s that moving image is exceptional at it. It creates magic like nothing else.

 

We just don’t want to be sold to. We don’t want a transactional relationship with our brands. We want them to connect with us, romance us, laugh with us. Be part of our experiences. Develop an emotional engagement.

 

The future is moving image. Almost every platform we operate in now is enabled for it. Soon all platforms will be. Consumer behaviour is craving it. The challenge is to understand what type works best where and when. Anything from long form narrative driven to short form sub two second click dramas, to tactical news clips to docs.

 

Bashed out low budget branded film ‘content’ doesn’t cut it anymore. Almost all of it is landfill.  The future is in the hands of the creatives who truly understand the power of the moving image and their production partners that make it all happen.  We need great moving image producers, writers and directors more than ever before. We have been through all manner of change in our industry since the digital revolution. Some changes have proved to be fads others important steps on the journey. Feels like the emergence of moving image as the dominant currency might be here to stay. Skill up.

Mick Mahoney is the chief creative officer for Ogilvy London

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