More video is good for ads, but bad for the audience

Jul 24, 2013
More video and mobile in digital lead to market distortion and lack of innovation; focus and specialization are crucial for truly relevant products.
The fundamental binomial of betting on the future in digital lies in two extremely clear axes: video and mobile. Even though these two aspects are still a Gordian knot in terms of monetization, there is no global player that is not operating its own 'futures exchange' without considering both as the most important. This fixation will lead a good part of the market to distort products of great value to accommodate video and mobile operations and, probably, to much regret in the future.
Incredibly, even with the flood of apps, platforms, formats, trends, alternatives, and news that the digital environment presents every day, there is a noticeable lack of innovation regarding the focal lines of the products. Two clear indications of this are the serial acquisitions by technology giants. The competitiveness of the market, paradoxically, leads to conservatism in terms of strategy. When the "market" thinks that a certain trend is the one to be followed, the fear of missing out leads all players to the same bets and no differential initiative can find a satisfactory level of investment or credibility.
Video and mobile devices set the tone now, but not all businesses going forward will necessarily have these two elements as the main drivers. Excellent products will continue to make money elsewhere. For the media industry, the parallel is with news magazines "leaning" towards entertainment even when these magazine groups already have entertainment titles. It is rare for the same company or the same division of a company (as in the case of mega-corporations) to succeed in more than one 'core business'. Focus and specialization are the drivers of innovation and truly relevant products.
Facebook and Twitter have definitively thrown themselves into the battle for the video market by adding video features to their platforms (Facebook on Instagram and Twitter with the acquisition of Vine). Heavyweight analysts, like the excellent Geoff Livingston, see Instagram's entry into the video field as a serious threat to YouTube. But is the global spread of the trend in favor of video really omnipotent?
Just as Facebook did with Instagram and Yahoo! did with Tumblr, large companies "buy" established projects to enter a trend in which they are not yet heavyweight competitors (in this case, Facebook for social imaging and Yahoo! for social media). However, not everything has a versatile character and adaptability to new trends. Tools like Instagram and Flickr, for example, are famous and well-established because they fully meet a user demand for a certain habit, but it is questionable to imagine, for example, if a large percentage of users of a photo app would start making videos because the tool creates a feature for this.
It is true that in the cases mentioned (Instagram Video and Vine), the additions are about features with the same root (in the case, photos and video). But it is worth asking about what does not happen. By employing resources to follow a trend, aren't developments of the 'core' of that application being left aside? How many Flickr users, for example, prefer the development of a new aspect of the application at the expense of improvements to their own photography features?
Obviously, the developments are not necessarily exclusive, but anyone who follows the work of engineering teams knows that invariably, no matter how wealthy the companies may be, there is still a finite amount of resources. Purchases of applications and their teams by larger companies are exactly because of these resources - even more so than the applications themselves. But within a large company, the team of newly hired people has to deal with much greater pressure and has to make the tool fit priorities that are not defined by them themselves. Hence the reason why large companies wisely choose to leave the new teams untouched and working on their own, as Yahoo! did with Tumblr.
No matter how great and large the growth of Vine and Instagram Video and the trend of short videos (which are the must of both tools), YouTube is still in a better position than the competition for a number of reasons, ranging from the scale of the tool itself to the positioning of the content in search and its eventual monetization. Video is undoubtedly a format that still has a lot to grow, but the ways in which this will happen are not yet defined. The market demands life or death bets because in case of a poorly made bet, it basically migrates to another asset. Companies, on the other hand, have to bear the losses. Precisely for this reason, a measure of great intelligence is to protect applications/tools with a high growth rate from the obligation to present pre-established results (read "revenue"). This can be very good for shareholders, but it is rarely so for the product itself and in the end, it is the one that guarantees the maintenance of revenue over a longer period.

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