Content Marketing Expert: Where Digital Media is Heading in 2017 and Beyond


TJ Leonard, the CEO of VideoBlocks, discusses three fundamental shifts that will drive production and advertising budgets in 2017—the evolving definition of a content creator, the rapid innovation in video-capture technology, and how authenticity and mobility dominate our personal social feeds.

  • 18 january 2017

2016 has been a year where popular culture and technology have pushed hard on what it means to ‘get real.’  Our presidential election featured enough inflammatory tweets and plot twists to be classified as reality television, only to have our very sense of reality challenged with accusations of state sponsored cyber-intervention. Shows like Black Mirror presented us with a series of hypotheses about what our future may hold if we don’t stop to reflect about how technology influences our daily lives.  How do our personal experiences impact the type of content we create in our professional lives?  What is the effect of all this technology we now take for granted on digital video? How will it impact the demand for commercial content in 2017?

As 2017 is off to a flying start, these are some of the questions we have been asking ourselves at VideoBlocks. To look for answers answers, we analyzed over 56 million searches and 13 million downloads from our archive featuring more than 3 million videos uploaded by a global network of contributors.  We discovered three fundamental shifts that will drive production and advertising budgets in 2017—the evolving definition of a content creator, the rapid innovation in video-capture technology, and how authenticity and mobility dominate our personal social feeds. Together these three trends gave rise to a new, hyper-realistic aesthetic that is rapidly becoming the new standard for digital video.

Rewind even five years and the television industry along with large brands completely dominated demand for digital video.  Since that time, YouTube has evolved from the king of UGC, to the heartbeat of influencer marketing – one of the fastest growing forms of digital spend.  Tools like Squarespace and Wix have brought more and more small businesses online, creating a new wave of demand for digital video. And digital marketers everywhere now create content as part of their day to day – be it for a Facebook ad or customer education.

As this new emerging creative class commissions and creates a greater share of digital video, we are seeing demand for a new kind of content.  These digital natives shy away from the pixel perfect scenes that have long unfolded on our TVs, and are instead looking to our social feeds for inspiration and influence.  When combined with all of the recent innovation in video-capture hardware, we are seeing a new category of hyper-realistic content.  This content explores the world from the first person perspective, prioritizes authenticity and mobility over the traditional production techniques, and gives us clues into how VR and drone footage will shape content trends in 2017 and beyond.

As much as the evolving profile of content creators has influenced digital video demand, hardware innovation has changed the way we capture video, firmly cementing first-person as the perspective of choice.  Searches for GoPro content exploded more than 1250% in 2016, with VR (+814%) and drone footage (+712%) not far behind.  All of this new video technology enables us to more easily capture the world as seen through our own eyes, and to define and share our own version of reality with our friends and consumers alike.

If you have a single social media account, you won’t be shocked by the assertion that first person content will drive content demand in 2017—we have been seeing that perspective dominate our personal feeds for years.  What is more surprising is that creators prefer video that more directly reflects our real lives—authentic, imperfect, and increasingly mobile—as opposed to the highly stylized and filtered world we see in many photo-first platforms.  Demand for content using qualifying phrases like “selfie,” “smartphone,” and “mobile” was up more than 200% compared to 2015.  Combine that with the desire to have video that reflects diversity (+172%), family (+336%) and LGBT (317%), and you start to see the attributes of our modern world that creatives want to represent in their work.

A rapidly expanding population of content creators, new technology that allows us to better tell first person narratives, and our personal social feeds will combine to bring a new hyper-realistic aesthetic to commercial content in 2017.  Just as more marketing dollars pour into social and influencer campaigns, digital video budgets will disproportionately follow projects that allow companies to see eye to eye with people’s everyday perspective.  The demand shift currently underway spells a massive opportunity for both content creators and the businesses they partner with in the New Year. However, it also signals trouble for brands who steadfastly apply old production standards to a digital world that increasingly demands an entirely different type of video content.

TJ Leonard is the CEO of VideoBlocks, which empowers the creative community by providing premium stock media at prices all creators can afford. Prior to his current role, Leonard led the marketing team at VideoBlocks as CMO for two plus years, and has driven customer growth, retention and monetization for consumer internet and mobile businesses for the last decade and a half.

+Arts & Culture
+Brand Development
+Brand Development
+digital media
+psfk op ed
+Social Media

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