Instagram. YouTube. Facebook Live. These and others are driving the continued growth and interest in online video across multiple industries and applications. In 2017, we saw a 34% increase in worldwide video viewing, according to a report from Limelight Network. Limelight’s “The State of Online Video 2018” indicates continued growth, with respondents to its research (5,000 consumers in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, the U.S., and the U.K.) watching an average of 6 hours and 45 minutes of online video each week (a 1-hour increase over last year).

Kim Smith is content marketing manager with GoodFirms, a B2B research and review platform. The popularity of online videos has been rising for about a decade, says Smith—driven, to a large degree, by websites such as YouTube and Dailymotion. “The video format has served as the best tool for content marketing,” she says. However, the potential of video for content marketers is impacted by what consumers are watching online.


The Online Video Year in Review 

According to Limelight’s research, movies represent the most-viewed form of online video content, “followed by TV shows, news, sports, professionally produced video content on social media sites, user-generated content, and online gaming videos.” Where are people watching? Primarily, on their computers, despite the proliferation of smartphones and other connected devices.

But despite the growing popularity and consumption of online video and a lot of chatter among marketers about its potential, its use doesn’t yet dominate, especially in the B2B space, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). What does? Social media posts (94%)—preproduced videos were cited by 72% of respondents as a type of content used for content marketing. In terms of effectiveness, video doesn’t even make a showing among the top three forms of content: ebooks/white papers (62%), case studies (47%), and social media posts (43%). The situation was a bit more promising in the B2C space, in which B2C preproduced videos were the second most successful reported form of content (43%)—social media posts (59%) were cited as most successful.

Still, other research suggests that marketers are finding value in the use of video to increase engagement and drive website traffic. The fourth annual “State of Video Marketing Survey” from Wyzowl, an animated explainer video company, indicates that marketers are seeing value from their use of video:

  • 97% say video has helped increase user understanding of their products or services.
  • 76% say video has helped them increase sales.
  • 76% say video has helped to increase website traffic. 

And popular sites such as Facebook and Instagram continue to explore the positive potential of online video, says Smith. In 2018, she notes, “social media promoted video content with Instagram’s IGTV, Facebook’s self-help video creation, and much more. Every expert’s popular opinion for a digital marketing strategy included video formats.”

Brands are keying in to the popularity and success of original video content being created by Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, says John Cobb, CEO of Giant Media (, which has developed VuePlanner (, a pre-buy planning tool for YouTube online video campaigns. “Brands are getting involved; Nike being an example,” says Cobb. “This trend of branded content is an emerging highlight of 2018 and will only increase next year and in the years to come,” he says.

Steve Kurniawan is a content specialist and growth strategist with Nine Peaks. “I personally think online video is in a weird place right now,” says Kurniawan. “On one hand, it is definitely rising in popularity. Video is simply everywhere, covering virtually all kinds of niches and topics. On the other hand, the medium has been pretty stagnant in 2018 both technology- and content-wise. This results in the saturation of the medium, especially regarding video marketing: While more people are going to watch your ads, they also watch your competitors’ or third-party reviewers’. It’s really hard to accurately measure—and much harder to control—the result of online video marketing.” So what is 2019 likely to hold for the use of online video in content marketing?


A Look Ahead at Online Video

Smith predicts a shift to a more pull, than push, user experience in online video, pointing to growing popularity of AI-powered smart speakers and, most recently, screens (such as Amazon’s Echo Show). Voice user interface (VUI), she says, has the potential to “rupture traditional online videos in 2019.” This presents new opportunities and options for content marketers. In 2019, she says, “with voice commands, searching and internet access will become much more interactive, boosting new possibilities for online videos.”

“In online video, there’s an untapped environment to reach audiences in a much deeper, targeted way through a variety of data points and AI to deliver advertising experiences that put the consumer first in the equation,” Cobb says. “The more we can provide advertising that is complementary, rather than disruptive, the better the experience.”

This, Cobb says, will also serve to address issues of saturation. “There’s only so much time in a day, and there are so many platforms to choose from. Distributors, whether content or advertising, are going to be challenged by finding seamless ways to reach and benefit the consumer.” Amazon, he says, may be an aid here: “I’m predicting Amazon will combine the millions of people that leave reviews with video.”

Importantly, in 2019, content creators should amp up their focus on analytics to ensure that what can be a major investment in video is paying off. TwentyThree, a video content platform, has shown a significant discrepancy between the quantity of videos being produced and their ability to generate engagement, based on research on more than 1 billion plays on its platform. “We did a survey earlier this year and found that only 38% of marketers measure engagement when it comes to their videos,” says Todd Patton, head of communications and story for the company. “How can we reasonably create valuable content if we aren’t even measuring that people are watching or learning from our video content?”

It’s a good question and one that creators will be increasingly challenged to answer in the new year.