Take a look at any publisher’s road map for the months ahead and you’ll see video is a key area of growth. In fact, according to a May AOL poll of 600 publishers across the U.K. and U.S., video was cited as the No. 1 revenue driver for 2017.

But, as a Digiday post on the survey points out, wishing won’t make it so. While greater investments in production, improved technology, and experiments around business models are paving the way to video success, some roadblocks remain.

Building Inventory

For one, lack of inventory continues to be an issue, with some publishers turning to automation to boost production. In a New York Times report, Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing) revealed plans to use technology from service providers like Wochit and Wibbitz to increase its current “couple hundred” videos a day to an ambitious 2,000 daily.

Other publishers are growing their own video teams. Meredith, for example, is expanding in-house development of live, virtual reality, and 360 content with three new state-of-the-art video studios and a 30-person team. Using a centralized approach, its goal is to produce as much volume as possible while ensuring the content is aligned to individual brands.

“We have developed creative expertise in VR and 360 in-house and are training all of our producers on these new production technologies,” SVP Melinda Lee told Folio. The company now creates about 500 original videos a month—double last year’s count.

At BuzzFeed, big organizational changes announced last week put video at the center of the digital media giant’s long-term content strategy and expansion plans. “Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department,’” CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo published by Vanity Fair. “Instead of organizing around a format or technology, we will organize our work to take full advantage of many formats and technologies.”

Meanwhile, Hearst is buying into video operations. In April, it partnered with Verizon on the acquisition of Complex Media, a millennial-focused content hub that now reaches 50 million unique video viewers a month and is growing by more than 400% year over year.

Balancing Cost vs. Quality

While publishers race to meet the growing demand for video, the cost of making quality content remains a limiting factor for many. New tools and automation services can streamline the process of video creation and production, making it less time consuming and more cost efficient with techniques like text-to-video conversion.

But the human touch still plays a central role when it comes to creating engaging, high-quality video—the kind advertisers want to put their messages in. And of course that means more money.

“The data came back very quickly that with text-to-video alone, if you don’t touch it, consumers can quickly recognize it is not a high-quality product,” said USA Today’s Chris Pirrone in the Times article.

Making Money

Which leads us to the most important question: How much money is video generating for publishers? This year, it’s expected to bring in more than $10 billion in digital ad revenue, according to eMarketer, which found in a survey that many publishers are now extending their video advertising to platforms, with half running campaigns on Facebook, followed by YouTube (31%) and Twitter (17%).

But with publishers’ growing reliance on third parties to drive traffic, they “face a challenge in realizing adequate return and engagement from these other networks and balancing scale with control,” a Marketing Land report said.

One of the hottest trends this year is live video on platforms like Facebook Live, which is quickly ramping up by paying publishers and celebrities millions of dollars to produce a steady volume of content and experiment with different types of posts. Still, media companies are struggling to figure out long-term business models for live video and how to best use the technology to create appealing formats. Some are investing resources to test it out, though, and seeing some encouraging numbers.

As of last month, Meredith generated more than 8.2 million views with 26 live “experiences,” AdExchanger reported. To generate revenue, it integrates product brands into related content. Another publisher getting traction is NowThis, which produced 14 of the top 100 Facebook Live videos in May and June (check out its five tips for mastering Facebook video).

Going Forward

As one analyst commented, video success will ultimately come down to finding the right mix of products and distribution outlets, balancing cost efficiencies and editorial quality to ensure both audience engagement and return on investment. (See TFP’s August Book Picks for some great guides on creating and leveraging video.)

At Meredith, the focus is on speed and relevancy, Lee said in a Q&A, noting her video team will continue to “experiment with the capabilities and be agile in our approach.”

“Know your audience and everything about their consumption patterns,” she advises. “Understand what type of video formats resonate on each platform and integrate these best practices into your production workflow. Audience data and video insights will be your producer’s best friend.”


CEO Margot Knorr Mancini’s monthly blog on content strategy shares valuable insights and observations from her experiences in the publishing industry. 

Check out her other articles in our Content Strategy section. Also sign up for TFP’s newsletter briefings, including Media Metrics and This Week in Publishing, which highlights our weekly industry news picks and tips to help you stay informed. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to know more about? Drop us a note!

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.