Watch the pretty lights

The image of public hoards glued to smartphones as they wander their daily course has become something of a cliche, depicted by cartoonists as heralding a societal doomsday. The masses trudge on, oblivious, whilst destruction, salvation, horror and wonder happen all around them. If this is your idea of living purgatory, then brace yourself - because it will not be getting better anytime soon  - if ever. More than 10% of all online video is watched on a mobile device and it’s set to increase, with the likes of incorporated ad footage becoming the norm.

The punchline is that we only have ourselves to blame, collectively speaking. If we didn’t have an unwavering compulsion to absorb seemingly any moving image that is presented before us, then none of this (ok: not as much) would have happened. Advertisers have latched onto the fact that moving images are very effective at fostering “engagement”, in normal speak: involvement, participation, and ultimately purchases. Just as with spam email: if it didn’t work, then ‘they’ wouldn’t send it.

What makes it worse - or easier, depending on your point of view - is that there appears to be no limit to the sheer banality that draws our attention: “What’s in your fridge?” for example, the content of many ‘Vines’, people falling over (guilty) and worse. To be fair (only slightly) our visual senses are genetically programmed to be drawn to movement. In prehistoric times this mechanism may have saved us from a bear or a sabre toothed tiger. Today it’s automatic vigilance prevents us from being hit by a car (hopefully). reported some amazing news, plus forecasts for our immediate future:-

“74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video...By 2016 ...Facebook was reporting 8 billion views per 2020, mobile video is expected to increase 11x, representing more than 75% of the world's mobile data traffic...By 2020, 7 trillion video clips are expected to be uploaded.”

It continues, but the message is clear: the moving image is going to be ever more intertwined with our lives;- even more so than it is currently. The knock-on effect is one of self-perpetuation; the more we experience it, the more we expect to see it and the more it’s incorporation becomes normalised. This puts pressure on the “small guy”, -and the small scale entrepreneur. So as not to be left out and deemed dated, irrelevant or simply boring; he/she will have to become a slick, media producer in order to be taken seriously. As if trying to create and market a product or service wasn’t difficult enough!

That’s assuming the likely premise that a small outfit won’t have their own video team, or be able to hire one of course. Yes, there are video services for a wide range of budgets, but even the cheapest, competent provider will still charge several hundred pounds for 30 seconds of finished something - anything. It’s likely worth it in the medium to long term, as part of a balanced and competently executed promotional campaign, but it has to be done well - whatever the budget. Badly shot, poorly scripted, and ill-conceived clips of failed “humour”, absolutely ‘clang’ against the senses and are arguably worse than no video at all. You may have to rely on the creative cunning, rather than the blunt force of cash to get your message across.

Get it right and the results are seductive. Increased interactivity with your website, recommendations, an affinity with your company/product, shares on social media, and if you are lucky (and smart): viral promotion are all possibilities. Ever fancied working in advertising? One way or another; you may have no choice.