The value of video for digital publishers

Digital publishers are embracing video like never before and this makes sense on so many levels. The trend is most obvious on social media platforms where news is getting distributed in the form of brief videos with text on it.

video for digital publishers blog post featured image
TL;DR: Digital publishers are struggling with monetizing their content and finding a way to survive on the market. This is why they explore different business models such as ad-based ones, native advertising, subscriptions, or memberships. More often than not, publishers will choose to combine different models. Video as a format is valuable in each of them.

Every major digital newsroom or publisher is doing it. Just think of AlJazeera, The Economist, The Guardian, or Washington Post. All of them are optimizing their content for the so-called “tap generation” that consumes news via their smartphones and prefers video as a format.

I was interested in learning more about the value of video for digital publishers which is why, in addition to my independent research, I reached out to Vahe Arabian, the founder of The State of Digital Publishing.

The benefits of video for digital publishers

The benefits of video for digital publishers are huge. Publishers can directly monetize video content by placing ads, grow their online presence, reach a wider audience pool, and optimize for better visibility on search engines.

YouTube is the preferred video hosting platform that rewards creators with around $18 per 1000 ad views. This means that embedding videos into articles not only gives publishers a chance to monetize their content but also positively impacts user experience. How come?

Well, videos increase dwell time by capturing the attention of the viewers which in return can boost your SEO. Google’s algorithm is complex and consists of over 200 ranking factors. There is a group of them that are directly related to the UX quality of your website which, among other things, includes the way users interact with your content.

If your website visitors are sticking around, clicking through the page, or starting multiple sessions, that’s a pretty strong signal that you’re doing something right. And video is a great tool to achieve that.

This is not to say that people don’t read anymore. My point is that video can complement your current content strategy and open new sources of revenue.

Examples of the best uses of video for digital publishers

Can you imagine The Telegraph being on Snapchat? Well, you better because it has 2 million subscribers and is using the format of short stories to inform the mobile-first generation about the latest news, opinions, and trends.

telegram snapchat

They are mostly using video as a hook to attract people to their website. Once you open one of their stories, you can see the CTA “Read” at the bottom of the screen, and when you click on it, you get redirected to the Telegraph website. However, there are also videos that are native to the platform, which is a way to stay visible and relevant.

Below you can see the most popular social network as of 2023, ranked by the number of monthly active users (in millions):

stats about social media
(Source: Statista)

Of course, The Telegraph is just one of the many publishers present on the tenth most popular social network.

The Guardian is an exceptional example and they clearly use a tool to automate videos by merging images, video templates, and text. If you subscribe to their Instagram account, you will always stay up to date with bite-sized videos.

German publisher Focus is doing something that’s actually very simple yet effective: they are embedding videos at the beginning of their articles that act like summaries or recaps of the text content. These video slideshows are by far the most cost-effective way for digital publishers to implement video into their content.

guardian publisher instagram

Here’s something that Vahe shared and that stuck with me:

“Last year, short-form videos in combination with Web Stories came into maturity. As a result, Google is investing in more dissemination and indexation of videos in its search for a share of audience and new ad revenue share. That’s because of the increasing competition from Meta and TikTok. In a nutshell, video is important for a combination of brand awareness, traffic, and content dissemination.”

Naturally, I was interested to learn more about the concept of Web Stories.

Web Stories are a web-based version of the popular Story format which allows creators to host and own their content, Vahe explained:

“Your Story appears in places like Google Search and Discover. Stories carousel is currently only available in US, India, and Brazil on Mobile.”
google web stories
Credits: Google

When it comes to short stories, they are harder to produce in high quality. You can see short video results on search engine results pages, and these can be extracted from TikTok, FB, and YouTube. Another reason for publishers to invest in video from an SEO standpoint.

How can publishers monetize videos

As I mentioned above, YouTube is a video hosting platform that will pay you if you have over 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours within the past year. This makes you eligible to join the YouTube Partner Program pending YouTube's approval. Once you get in, you can turn on ads for your videos.

But this is not the only way to monetize videos. You can also put pre-roll ads and sign exclusive deals with brands to market their products if they are relevant to your audience, which can be perceived as a form of native advertising.

The best ads are the ones that don’t feel like ads at all because they are so well integrated into the overall story of the video. In this ideal scenario, an ad is not an ad, but the content of interest that automatically plays right before the actual video.

If you as a publisher create videos manually, your return on investment might be very low. The amount of time and resources you would have to spend to create videos will slow down your publishing process. You might find yourself in a situation where you simply miss the momentum to publish a video along with your news article, for example.

current process for video creation publishers

The manual way involves working with an agency or a freelancer, and creating videos from scratch. But is there a better way to do it? There sure is, and I’ll get to it in a bit.

But before that…

If video is so valuable, why aren’t digital publishers doing more of it?

There are two main reasons why publishers are not investing in video as mush as they could. 

Firstly, it’s about resources. For example, to create the above mentioned video slideshow from scratch, you would need a minimum of 30 EUR (assuming you’re hiring a freelance video editor to do the job) and at least 2-3 hours to make it.

But digital publishers publish dozens of stories daily. Some larger publishers publish between 150 (NY Times) and 500 (The Post) articles per day. Creating videos manually is just too expensive and not scalable.

The second reason why digital publishers are not doing more of video reflects in their lack of knowledge. Just think about the structure and pain points of digital newsrooms: they are fighting for their audience’s attention, trying out different business models, they are under pressure to build data literacy in their organization, and to make smart decisions on the topics they will cover.

They are struggling with written content as is. This is why many of them perceive video as something that is out of reach, too complicated, or too expensive. But does it have to be, though?

How can digital publishers create videos automatically 

Video automation software like Plainly help you create videos automatically. Yep, you read that right. The tool will read the article, summarize it, create a voiceover, pick relevant stock footage or use your uploaded media, and create a video based on these assets. Plainly will also let users create small edits in assets used if they want to. 

Now imagine this: you create a news article, select the text you want to turn into a video, and in a jiffy, you have video content + a completely natural voiceover that follows the text. All this with almost zero effort.

And then what? 

Host the video on YouTube. Embed it at the beginning of your article just like The New York Times or GrandPrix247 do, and you will not only satisfy different audiences and their preferences for consuming content but also increase the likelihood of earning additional money.

Did you know? I’ve already written about turning your blog posts into videos, and the method is completely applicable to all sorts of articles. Make sure to check out that resource.

This is by far the smartest and easiest way for publishers to include videos in their articles without having to pay a fortune. With digital newsrooms, this is extremely important because of the speed of reporting. You get to publish a story (or breaking news even) and a video that summarizes this story SIMULTANEOUSLY, which beats all the competing media that are missing out on the latest tech trends.

Is Plainly worth a try for digital publishers?

Finally, we reached the ultimate question: is Plainly worth it for digital publishers that want to invest in video content? I would say it’s a no-brainer, especially if you’re looking for a way to sustain your newsroom of publication without ruining its credibility. 

Programmatic display ads that you have no control over are the reason why we have so much clickbait content today. Since publishers had to find a way to financially support themselves, they turned to a business model that relies on pay-per-views. This kind of defies the sole purpose of the digital publishing industry and the right of publishers to monetize their content. 

That’s easier said than done, of course. The truth is, content is your product. With video, you can not only increase engagement but also stop selling parts of your web page as real estate for annoying display ads that are not relevant to your audience whatsoever or related to the context of your article. Luckily, today there are advertisers that are much more sophisticated and care about the readers’ experience, and that’s where your opportunity to build meaningful partnerships lies. 

Plainly can be a great tool to help you automate the creation of your videos, step up your content game, and increase your revenue.

Want to learn more? Let’s have a 15-minute chat.

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