It’s official: 2018 was a massive year for digital publishing. From brand safety to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the industry saw an incredible shift toward providing more engaging content for traffic while trying to illustrate premium opportunities for advertisers. This is especially true when it came to video.

Looking back over the past 12 months, here are the top five things that impacted digital video strategy.

1. Reports of the death of the pivot to video have been greatly exaggerated.

Have a look at this graph showing unique video viewers and total videos viewed in the United States from October 2016 to August 2017 from comScore.

Research shows video consumption is growing, not declining as some may have heard.
Research shows video consumption is growing, not declining as some may have heard.

In 2018, unique viewers grew by 27% and total videos viewed grew by 32%. Hands down, more people are watching more videos than ever before. And your users love it.

But … as we have stated before, not all video is created equal. In a previous blog post, we mentioned how users only have 31 minutes per day for digital short-form video (all video under 10 minutes). Sites delivering quality, official video keep users longer. If we look at digital sports, for example, the top five platforms in August on comScore for videos per viewer (with more than 1 million unique monthly viewers) were:

  • WWE: 20.4 videos per viewer.
  • ESPN: 17.9 videos per viewers.
  • CBS Sports: 13.9 videos per viewer.
  • SendtoNews: 13.4 videos per viewer.
  • MLB: 10.5 videos per viewer.

All platforms delivering official, quality content yield high consumption from their users. Getting as much premium video content on your site is key to maximising your users’ time and keeping them on your page.

2. Advertisers are still in love with digital video.

A report from AppNexus predicts that, by year end, nearly US$15.5 billion will be spent on digital video advertising in the United States. That is an increase of 16% from 2017 and 44% from 2016. Additionally, the IAB reports nearly 60% of marketers’ digital advertising budgets for 2018 were specifically allocated to video.

Most publishers who were able to provide quality video placements for advertisers saw the subsequent benefit in their revenue stream.

3. You absolutely needed a mobile strategy.

Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults get their news from a mobile device, a number that has nearly tripled since 2013. Additionally, Ooyala found 58% of video plays came from a mobile device. By the end of this year, mobile is expected to surpass television as the medium users spend the most time with and will command 78% of viewers when it comes to streaming content.

Ensuring your site is not only mobile-enabled but has rich video content to attract and keep users shifted from a luxury to a necessity in 2018.

4. AI was a tool, not a job thief.

At the beginning of the year, a survey was conducted among publishing leaders in regard to how they plan to leverage AI in 2018.

Notice how none of those entries focus on reducing staff or scaling back costs. AI is simply a tool for publishers to improve the product they deliver to their readers.

A few months ago, we discussed how AI can be used by newsrooms to help with workflow rather than feared as a replacement for journalists. This remains true today. Journalists and publications like the New York Daily News are using AI to deliver more content at a larger scale with lower cost while reaping the benefits of increased revenue and user engagement.

5. Brand safety was still very much a thing.

Advertisers’ concerns over brand safety were nowhere near satisfied in 2018. If anything, concerns over YouTube’s inability to police its platform efficiently and Facebook’s issues concerning user data have increased the need for brands to be more cautious about where they are seen.

The good news as publishers is that you have 100% control over the content on your site. This year provided publishers with a golden opportunity to pack their site with safe, trusted, and non-divisive content that provides brand lift and awareness without raising alarm bells. Sports highlights along with technology and lifestyle videos provide relatively safe placements for advertisers as opposed to verticals like politics, crime, and celebrity gossip. Look for this to be a prevailing trend in 2019.