After Mic: What’s Next for Video Pivoters? – STEPHEN BACH
Mic.com wanted to be “60 Minutes but with the accessibility of social.”
Just four months ago I saw a presentation on the company and their strategy. The 60 Minutes comparison worked well for the room— a gathering of older investors and media mavens — even though I raised my eyebrows at the notion it would have any resonance with their target audience of millennials, most of whom have probably never even seen the storied broadcast.
A famous example of the “pivot to video” strategy, Mic focused most of its resources on expensive original programming. Mic aimed to distribute it far and wide, primarily via large social platforms.
Mic was doing some cool things, I thought: a major focus on content creation with brands, a documentary production deal for Hulu, investments on Snap and Facebook.
But even with all this activity, the pivot seems to have fallen short as last week Mic dismissed most of its staff and is selling to Bustle for $5M.
It’s not like this came as a shock to the industry. Over a year ago, Columbia Journalism Review’s Heidi Moore said “publishers must acknowledge the pivot to video has failed, find out why, and set about to fix the reckless pivots.” One of the major issues Moore noted is that “publishers have to trust distribution platforms that are also rivals for advertising dollars.”
Friends Like These
Last month, eMarketer reported the value of the US video advertising industry at $28 Billion. Facebook, including Instagram, controls nearly a quarter of that total. This makes Facebook a formidable rival for brands aiming to capture the imagination of ad buyers.
Further, Fast Company predicted a “bloodbath” for the pivoters earlier this year after Facebook announced a shift in focus in the newsfeed to friends and family.
Mic’s views on Facebook fell from 192 Million in April 2017 to 11 Million in March 2018, reported Digiday.
Any video pivoter tying their destiny to performance on Facebook needs to be very defensive. Diversification across platforms is critical.
Go Where Facebook Isn’t: Connected TV
If I were hired as a consultant for any of these media companies, my first action item would be pretty simple: focus on connected TV.
Nielsen reported yesterday that Americans are now streaming nearly 8 billion hours per month on connected TV devices like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Where is Facebook not dominating the market, at least for now?
Digital video dollars are flying into connected TV. As I’ve noted before, video advertising spend on connected devices in the US jumped from $4.7B in 2017 to $8.2B in 2018. Tru Optik is projecting $13.3B in 2019.
And just look at the shift to OTT in this chart from FreeWheel’s latest video monetization report.
So you video pivoters out there, it’s time to better hedge against the unpredictability of the social giants. It’s time to double down on the lean-back experience of connected TV.
The impact will be a more durable and diverse revenue opportunity… at least until Facebook buys Roku.
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