The value of video for digital publishing industry in 2024

Digital video content is the name of the game today for publishers aiming to captivate audiences and drive revenue growth. Readers increasingly expect video content alongside the usual text-based articles. In fact, video now dominates platforms due to its innate distribution and engagement potential.

However, most media and publishing companies are mostly writers who lack specialized video skills. And high-quality video production devours time - a scarce resource in busy newsrooms. As appealing as video is, scaling creation feels next to impossible without major resource investments.

That's why advancements in AI for automating video hold so much promise. Today, we see a ton of new tech that can deliver high-quality video content just by having the existing article text as the input.

In this article, we explore the benefits of videos, how publishers can monetize videos and the immense value of using AI to make videos. We also interviewed Vahe Arabian, founder of The State of Digital Publishing, to get his thoughts on why this medium has so much appeal and value in the evolution of digital content.

video for digital publishers blog post featured image
TL;DR: Most companies are now building up video inventory on their websites by creating longer, more in-depth video reporting, interviews, and documentaries. This premium video content is monetized by running programmatic video ads against it. This makes the medium a significant revenue stream for digital publishers through social distribution and direct ad sales.

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

Adopting video content strategically offers immense upside for media companies in today's online landscape. Below are some significant benefit why we recommend blending videos with text and pictures:

Higher revenue

Video ads get way higher CPM compared to banner ads. This represents a major chance for publishers to cash in through video monetization. But outlets that snooze on this trend? They're risking losing readers and ad dollars over time.

The key is selling video ad space programmatically - auctioning it off using audience data for better targeting. This gets the right video ad in front of the right user, boosting engagement through the roof. And with demands growing for quality video slots, publishers can charge higher rates. Brands will pay out of the nose for access to these engaged viewers.

Additionally, embedding videos into articles allows publishers to tap into YouTube's large creator economy. YouTube rewards creators with around $18 per 1000 ad views. This supplementary income, combined with the direct video ad revenue, provides publishers with powerful, diversified monetization from a single video asset.

Greater audience reach

Videos are more interactive, and thus they attract wide audiences across platforms. People instinctively click to watch short videos that appear in social media feeds, whether checking out the latest TikTok trends or laughing at a cute puppy clip.

This innate engagement makes video content highly shareable and gives it greater reach than text or images alone. Adopting video allows publishers to capitalize on its power to captivate viewers and expand to new audiences.

Boosted engagement metrics

Viewers are significantly more likely to like, comment, share, and click through on videos versus text or images alone. Video consumption boosts all core site metrics for publishers:

  • Time on page - Videos hold visit duration over 2X higher
  • Pageviews - Viewers will click related videos to continue
  • Social sharing - Digital videos are shared 1200% more than text and images
  • Click-through rates - garner click-through rates 6X higher

It allows digital publishers to move engagement metrics in the right direction.

Better SEO ranking

Pages incorporating video earn more dwell time from search engine visitors - a top Google ranking factor. This improved user experience lifts organic visibility, further stimulating subscriber growth.

YouTube also serves as the #2 search engine - with video optimization channels driving ongoing discovery by new audiences. Video published natively lifts overall domain authority and discoverability.

Digital video formats for publishers

The digital world has undergone a remarkable shift; today, as a publisher, you must keep pushing your envelope with video to stay competitive.

However, leveraging automation and understanding the audience on each platform is key to staying ahead in an ever-competitive market. Here are a few use cases to spark your mind:

Social media videos

Publishers must employ creative social media strategies to engage younger demographics. For example, The Telegraph demonstrated forward-thinking innovation by leveraging Snapchat's Discover feature. This allowed them to provide news to Generation Z audiences.

They edit videos in short segmented blocks to match teeny tiny millennial attention spans. And it works - The publishing company built a following of 2 million subscribers with this strategy.

the telegraph snapchat screenshot

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.

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.

Web stories

My friend Vahe shared an insight that stuck with me on why publishers are embracing web stories:

“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 in learning 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.”

Major news shops like CNN use the snackable style of web stories for eye-catching storytelling across platforms.

And get this - they sneak in affiliate links and branded content between frames to get paid. It lets them keep their creative edge while benefiting from the exposure.

google web stories
Credits: Google

In-article videos

Most publishing sites are making short 1-2 minute clips that summarize key articles or interview tidbits. These videos keep users engaged longer. Research shows higher completion rates when video recaps are embedded in mid-article. These videos dropped right into related text stories. Then, they let auto-play work its magic with video ads sprinkled throughout, boosting impressions and revenue.

For example, Germany's Focus rolls with simple recap videos giving the cliff notes on longer reports. It works well by catering to shorter viewer attention spans. website screenshot

AI-powered avatar videos

Publishers are getting really creative with artificial intelligence to take video use even further. German tech site Chip makes videos starring AI avatars - basically animated digital hosts that discuss innovations, products, or news using human-seeming voices and gestures.

The videos are super polished and informative, yet save resources, tons of production time, and costs compared to human video shoots. As the AI tech improves, we expect to see more publishers test digital avatar hosts and explainer videos embedded in articles, especially for tech and science coverage.

chip avatar videos screenshot

Video monetization strategies for publishers

Programmatic channels

Publishers realize they can claim much more revenue potential by programmatically selling video inventory instead of limiting monetization through YouTube alone. Programmatic exchanges offer access to premium demand and targeting capabilities that translate directly into 13-20% higher eCPMs versus direct-sold video. This high level of control allows publishers to dictate optimal pricing strategies and package custom video solutions for advertisers.

Optimized workflows

Optimizing your video operations is key to scaling profitably. While the occasional high-budget video may make sense for your hero content, utilize templates, reusable segments, and clips for faster turnaround on evergreen and news videos. Remember, the goal is to get more relevant videos out to capitalize on search and social trends.

Conversion leverage

Lastly, don't underestimate video's subscriber conversion powers. Seeing your brand's production polished through video builds familiarity and trust with users, unlike anything text can offer. Use video front and center in your subscription marketing across platforms. Video powers the path from one-time visitor to loyal member.

So, move beyond the "spray and pray" approach with YouTube.

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

When we look at why digital publishers are hesitant to jump fully into video content, despite how popular and engaging it is, it comes down to three main roadblocks:

1. The lack of technical knowledge

Most publishers are fantastic at writing and telling stories through words; however, when asked to create a professional-looking video. It's a whole different ball game.

Their editorial teams can craft amazing stories in text, but it's not their forte when handling cameras and editing software for videos. Training an entire team to be good at video production is a massive shift and hits hard on the budget. So, making that leap into high-quality video content can feel pretty overwhelming.

2. Limited understanding of video monetization

Then there's the puzzle of how to make money from video content. For folks who've been all about articles and text, the whole scene of video ads is kind of foreign. They're stepping into a new world without a clear map. How do you ensure these video efforts are both cool and profitable?

That's a big question mark hanging over their heads.

3. Scaling up videos isn’t easy

Let's be real - pumping out videos left and right ain't easy. It's way different than banging out articles. Think about everything that goes into just one video. You've got filming, editing, getting slick with graphics - it's like a laundry list of jobs, and each one takes time.

And don't even get me started on trying to scale up the amount of videos you produce. Going from a few articles to cranking out videos feels impossible without round-the-clock work. These ups and downs are enough to make you throw your hands up and forget the idea of adding videos to your content mix. I've been there.

However, the good news is that there are AI tools out there now that make it possible.

current process for video creation publishers

How can digital publishers create videos automatically?

I know it sounds crazy. However, video automation software like Plainly can do this. Just feed it your article text, and it'll analyze the content, generate a voiceover, pull in stock footage or your own media, and assemble it into a polished video.

Major publishers like The New York Times are already using AI to effortlessly produce videos, adding pre-roll ads to monetize them.

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.

plainly article to video interface screenshot

And then what? 

Host the video on YouTube. Embed it at the beginning of your article, and you will not only satisfy different audiences and their preferences for consuming content but also increase the likelihood of earning additional money.

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.

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 chat.

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