There’s a new statistic on the block.
Well it’s not that new, but it’s just recently risen to the surface. Read on to find out why.
I should be pleased because it encourages people to buy into a service I offer, but I’m not because it pretends to be something it isn’t, it’s damaging to the marketing industry as a whole, and it highlights how gullible people can be when you shove a number down their throat.
The statistic in question is ‘By 2018, video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic?’
Really? Next year, three out of four things you do on the internet will be watching a video?
Say it with me… ‘Oh no it won’t!’ Yet some people are putting their faith in this unbelievable claim.
It’s the neo-marketers… again
It’s not a lie. No, it’s not that simple, but if you are given a fact, why wouldn’t you believe it? As you’ll find out later in the post, the figure doesn’t mean what you think it does.
It depends who’s sending out the message. The figure has been around for a couple of years, but it’s only now been picked up by neo-marketers because they’ve either a) realised that adding a picture to your tweets has lost its appeal, or b) they’ve got some shitty app that chews through your camera roll to make an equally crappy video.
The underlying message is ‘You’ve got seven months to change the way you market your business or you’ll be left behind’.
But it’s all hot air. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be thinking video, but considering it for the reason above is just a lemming mentality.
Author Erik Qualman famously did something similar when he told entrepreneurs their businesses would die within five years if they didn’t use social media. When it didn’t happen, he quietly removed the reference from his promotions after five years had passed, but in the run-up to the proposed apocalypse, he sold a hell of a lot of books in half a decade.
In my bid to encourage people to question every pie chart and stat that comes their way, I wrote a scathing blog post warning business owners that the glut of figures bandied around mean nothing, and that neo-marketers are using them to their own advantage, without questioning the source or considering the impact of simply picking it up and running with it. See Watch Out, The Number Numpties Are About
Today, I’m going to focus on this particular statistic, because it’s getting some serious exposure. Hubspot, arguably the biggest marketing resource for people who suck up numbers like a milkshake, is touting it too. They should know better.
But here’s the thing, when former PM Benjamin Disreali stated the three types of lies are… lies, damned lies, and statistics, this one falls plumb into the latter category.
As I said, it’s not a lie at all, it’s quite accurate, but misleading. I started to feel uncomfortable about this statement when I first saw it. Then when I started seeing it popping up more and more, I wanted to find out where it had come from. And I did.
Two years ago, networking giant Cisco published a white paper quoting hundreds of useful bits of information around internet traffic predictions between 2015 and 2020. And amongst those hundreds, was one to which the above can be attributed.
‘By 2020, video content will represent 84% of all internet traffic.’
So why didn’t they use this stat instead? I mean 84 is a much bigger number. I’ll wager it’s partly because you have to look to find the Cisco research. Neo-marketers who thrive in the share-without-checking era don’t tend to bother with research. Hubspot makes easy pickings if you’re looking for a cheat sheet on stats. Also, the neos want you to think you are behind the times. They’re a bit weird like that.
They want you to pull a ‘scared’ emoji, hit the panic button and sign up for one of their ‘solutions’.
Traffic versus popularity
Anyway, the key word here is ‘traffic’. Cisco measures traffic in bytes. What the nobody tells you, or wants you to know, because it spoils their frightener, is that by its very nature video produces much bigger files, and therefore much more traffic, than web pages. There are a lot of dimensions to a video file, resolution, bitrate, frame rate, file format, etc, but a two-minute HD video saved as MP4 and uploaded to YouTube is around 120Mb, that’s sixty times bigger than an average web page in 2017 at 2Mb. By my calculation, taking popularity into account instead of traffic, video in 2017 is sitting at 37% and will move up to 42% in 2020. Now you see what Disreali meant.
It’s not to be sniffed at, but less likely to have you scrambling to fix something that ain’t broke.
The other thing they don’t give you, is a comparison. In 2015, according to Cisco, the figure was already 70%, so in fact, it’s only gone up four percentage points in three years, or one percentage point, if you go off my figures.
Not so scary now is it?
Ask more questions
Video is indeed on the increase and one of the reasons is that Facebook, with a massive user base has made it easy to record, publish, consume and share video. Improvements in bandwidth have made it very easy for people to do just that, but that in itself isn’t a reason to jump on the video bandwagon.
Good video is expensive to create. Either in time if you do it yourself, or financially if you hire a video production company. So be cautious when faced with ‘advice’ that sounds a little ‘Hammer House of Horror’. It’s much more likely that someone is trying to sell you something, just look a little deeper, and ask more questions.
If there is a scare tactic to be used it is that your video will need to be ten times better than what’s already out there, because whatever 74% represents, your customers have limited time to watch video and you need them to hit your play button, rather than another cat in distress.
What Hubspot and all should be telling you – and this is what I am urging you to consider – is that all this emphasis on video is causing an over-reaction of smart people to switch tactic and generate video at any cost. The message is, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Do it because everyone else is doing it. Do it because we say so. Do it because you don’t want to be billy-no-mates because you’re the only person on the block with no video. You know that’s not right.
Never, ever, produce a video because 74% of the internet will be video one day, or 84% or even 100%. Produce it because you have the right story to tell, the right audience to tell it to and the right budget to make it possible.
My only remaining question about this forthcoming apocalypse is… ‘why has no-one made a video about it?’
This article is also published on Pulse, where you can also leave your comment if you wish – Is video really booming?