OPINION: A few days ago I went to a talk on ‘online video’. The essence of the presentation was to roll out many facts and figures and explain why online video was such a big deal and how the world and marketing is now changed forever. Andrew Barnes takes a look.
Some of the numbers I managed to pen are:
- There are three billion humans that use the internet.
- Five YouTube videos are watched every day by each of these humans.
- Average global download speeds have moved from 3.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) in 2009, to 20 Mbps in 2014 and a predicted for 42.5 Mbps for 2019. South Africa’s average at the moment appears to be about 6-7 Mbps for broadband.
- Download speeds will increase to over 1000 Mbps as optic fibre rolls out. At this point there are eight cities in the world that enjoy this infrastructure. None are in South Africa. At these speeds you can download a feature film in about 10 seconds.
- There are about 1.5 billion TVs in the world. This will grow to three billion by 2019.
- The iPhone6 is 50 times faster than the first iPhone.
- Among 13-24 year old US citizens TV is watched an average of 8.3 hours per week. Online video is watched for 23 hours across the same period.
- Q1 2014 versus Q1 2015 saw these shifts in TV viewership: MTV -34%, Nickelodeon -34%, Comedy Central -30%.
- Facebook launched a video facility last year. This is the rate of uptake: Sept 2014 one billion views, Q4 2014 three billion views, Q1 2015 four billion views (Is Facebook video now bigger than YouTube?)
We are lucky to live in an era that will see internet speeds increase and costs decrease. This trend is amply captured by Moore* when he predicted in 1965 that the average processing power of computers will double every two years. This became known as Moore’s Law. But even Moore himself did not see this trend continuing indefinitely. He said the “doubling of processing power every two years” would continue for the foreseeable future. He did not say it would continue indefinitely. And as we know, nothing continues indefinitely.
But our fascination with processing power and speed of transmitting data is still with us and remains relevant today. With burgeoning ability to transmit data it is evident that video will indeed become a very powerful feature on the communication and marketing landscape. But its power will be constrained in the extent that there is actually something relevant to communicate.
Moreover, if speed of data transmission is so critical, then surely the speed at which you can consume or “devour” what is transmitted, is equally important? For instance, if I am prepared to read a book over a period of days or weeks then the acquisition of the book (the getting of the book) does not have to take a few milliseconds. It simply doesn’t matter. Conversely if it is important that a video arrives in instant via the ethernet then surely the time I can afford watching it is under equal constraint?
And this is my issue. In most instances, watching online video’s simply takes too long. I normally don’t bother watching videos, even on news sites, and when I do I mostly do not get beyond the 60-second mark. It becomes draining and tedious. Sitting and waiting. Maybe it’s just me.
Not wanting to give up too easily, I decided to look into the matter and find out what speaking speeds are compared to average reading speeds. If the world loves video and I can’t find the stomach for it, I needed to know why.
That being said it is interesting to note that the average speed of talking, such as that in an online video is about 150 words a minute. Several TED presentations were analysed yielding the following numbers:
Compare this to the average reading speed of about 200-300 words per minute. Or 500 words plus for an average high level exec or higher – which is where we all see ourselves.
Clearly, it’s no contest. One can read at least twice as fast as it will take to listen to the same spoken words. But importantly, and this is very important, when people speak too fast, they simply lose their audience. So speaking faster, to catch up with the nimble readers, does not construe a benefit.
Could our demand for, and fascination with faster and faster download speeds be nothing more than a signal to the world that we only have a few milliseconds available to actually watch the thing? With that thought, could we see the moment arrive when those faced with a six-minute video communication, modern and sexy as it is, say “please, let me read it. I haven’t got time to watch that.”
But then video is not only about verbal communication. It’s about images and other very important stuff like music and fashion and cartoons and music and …..
*Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor
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