That Cisco Report

Posted on Jun 10, 2019
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Here’s a hot take for you:

There’s this report that’s been making its way through many social feeds over the last few years. It’s a report that Cisco (not to be confused with Sysco or Crisco) put out a couple of years ago outlining a lot of data-based predictions on global internet traffic.

There is one particular stat that these marketers are really honing in on:

Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all IP traffic (both business and consumer) by 2022

I believe that is probably the most decontextualized stat in current discussion, and I think taking it at face value is positioned to be the single biggest cause of damage to brands and businesses over the next 3-5 years.

Allow me to explain:

This stat has caused such a rush in the digital business space to start adding video to your content strategy. Business owners everywhere are posting more videos to social channels and finding ways to get in front of a camera as much as possible. Not only that, many marketing and ad agencies have started adding a video component to their services, trying to capitalize on the trend. The ironic thing about that is, I don’t think any of them (agencies or business owners) have actually read the report. If they had, they’d have noticed the next 5 words:

...up from 75 percent in 2017

…that’s only a 5% change over 5 years; only 1% per year.

But when the stat is taken out of context, it makes it seem like a) There is a lot of growth coming between now and 2022, and more importantly (and more dangerously), b) There is still a big opportunity to get in it.

In reality, if you’re not already heavily entrenched in video production and delivery at scale (a la Gary Vaynerchuk, the unboxing channels like Unbox Therapy and MKBHD, or entertainment channels like Dude Perfect or Lindsey Stirling), you’ve already missed that wave.

The bulk of that growth has already happened, and those channels are riding it all the way to the top.

It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t double down on video, it’s just that you’ve already missed the opportunity to “get in while the getting’s good”, or “strike while the iron is hot”. The metaphorical iron is no longer hot, and the quality of the “getting” has already been declining for several years.

There’s not going to be that much more of an increase in video traffic to give you a greater marginal chance of big time success using that medium without full-fledged competition. As with all revolutions in technology, there’s an opportunity before the masses catch on when you can get away with lower quality, less production value, and a lower budget, but with video, that has long since passed.

In short, you’re playing with the big boys.

And further items from the Cisco study back that up as well. Not only will 82% of traffic be video, but 44% of that traffic will be mobile traffic, followed by 24% from Smart TVs. That means that if your content isn’t tailored for that specific experience (ie telling a mobile user to click instead of tap or telling someone on a smart screen to click the link below), then the time, money, and energy that you spend creating that content is basically wasted anyway.

On top of that, 79% of videos will be UHD or higher (resolution of 1080p at minimum), with 22% being played at 4k resolution. That means not only does the content need to be optimized for mobile and smart tvs, but it needs to be very high resolution, as more and more devices and consumers are upgrading their hardware specifically for the increase in streaming quality.

So not only are you competing with giants in terms of the content itself, but also in terms of the budget requirements to produce it well enough to even be considered.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, here’s a real kicker:

What that is saying is that there is an ever widening gap between the volume of traffic at peak hours vs the average. That means that it is more important than ever to know when to post the content you’ve recorded!

Think about it - an exponential increase in traffic during peak hours means a similiar decrease in attention during off-peak hours. That means that if you don’t post at the right time, you risk your content not being seen at all.

In conclusion

Yes, video should be a part of your marketing strategy moving into the next decade and beyond, but don’t kid yourself thinking it’s going to be easy or even simple. Now, more than ever, there are no short cuts. You have to do the work to figure out what to say, then you have to spend the resources to get it captured and produced with an acceptable level of quality, and then you have to spend the time figuring out when to share it.

But don’t forget, anytime everyone is doing one thing, you stand out by doing something else. My personal prediction is that the written word is going to come back as the dark horse during this surge of attention on video. I think consumers are already starting to prefer reading a post to watching a video, and I think practicing your writing is going to be a linchpin skill in the coming decade or so.

 

**PS - it really pays to actually read the source material on these studies. I highly recommend you read through the Cisco study yourself. You’ll probably pick up on a lot of things that I didn’t even notice.



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