I interviewed Chris Tolles, CEO of the online news portal Topix, on his predictions for how video will mature into the local landscape, and its impact for audiences and businesses.

The following interview took place at the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association's 7th Semiannual Interactive Marketing Survey, where Chris was one of the featured panelists.  Sorry in advance for the audio/video quality as all I had with me was a Flip and it was dark and loud at the show.

Chris Tolles' forecast of the local video landscape for business

  • Prediction #1: Increase in scale. Video content and activity will increase in the local online space. (Yes, that sounds like the obvious prediction!)
  • Prediction #2: Production key to manage. This is in regards to cost, time and project scale, which Chris believes will be more of a priority for local campaigns than for larger-scale audiences.
  • Prediction #3: Very short format. Successful local video campaigns will need to be very, very short. "There's a cycle of 12 seconds (for online engagement) that's sort of interesting." Says Chris. "People may want a 5-second or 10-second video of something. They don't want an hour.”
  • Prediction #4: User-generated content will dominate. Successful local video campaigns will be based around authentic audience-produced video as opposed to professionally produced videos. "Somewhere along the line, integration of video from an audience standpoint is going to come out. Its going to be something where a video of a store or of the (customer) experience I think will be part of the process; but I think we've got a ways to go where that's going to happen." He says. Which brings us to his next prediction
  • Prediction #5: Change in form factor. Chris believes that while video will eventually become an integral part of the local landscape, he doesn't forecast any commonly-adopted strategic implementation in the near future. "Text still rules. You don't want to see 20 videos or even photos of a restaurant. You can look through 20 reviews in text. If I look at 20 different video reviews, I wouldn't be able to do it. So I think the real problem is that the form factor of video is hard, especially in local. I think video will be important, and increasingly so. But it hasn't been solved yet. It's not going to be a linear progression. Something different is going to happen down the road… I think (video) will just take a different form factor. It comes down to, you don't want video commentary, you don't want video reviews – I think you'll want something else.”
  • ALSO ►  Gary Vaynerchuk: YouTube Channel Review - Through the 'Reel' Wringer

    Grant's Rant

    After I did this interview, I had to ask myself, does Chris really "get it" when it comes to the business opportunity with local online video? I think he's most accurate with talking about a content-type (customer testimonials and reviews), but less accurate when thinking that user-generated video content will trump professional-quality content. Production value also means good production quality, and one professionally produced video testimonial and review would not only be much more likely to have better influence and reach than a bunch of amateur-looking UGC videos, but also be more visible in keyword searches and social media sites – AND provide a level of influence over the message – which businesses desperately want and need.

    I think search traffic and engagement reports have already shown pretty well that people DO want video commentary, they DO want video reviews; they also want instructional videos, videos with interviews, videos of demos, videos of events – the whole gamut. Its not really about a linear progression; its more about many paths that overlap and integrate; and from new and enhanced technologies, audience awareness and input, and increased levels of passive-to-active engagement, new marketing models will continue to emerge – just like has already been proven in the local online space.

    • Visually Creative

      Looks like I'm late to the party, but that has given me time to see how close to fruition the predictions have come. With everyone having access to relatively affordable creative tools, there has been an influx of web video. Problem is; it's not all Good Video. But then again, "Good" is in the eye of the beholder. I for one, would NOT want to watch a series of 10 second videos. I would much rather watch a pertinent online video of 3-10minutes provided it's entertaining or informative. Sites the like of youtube make it hard to find Good/Relevant video. My only hope is that companies understand the value of a thorough video production coming from a qualified video production company. www.VisuallyCreativeVideo.com

    • Kiethwalkerk81

      chris tolles is going to burn in hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he created and is the ceo of topix my friend killed them selfselfs because of his creation

    • Randy Davis

      Im not sure if I agree with this one.

      Short videos? Yes. Five, ten, or tweleve seconds? I think that's a bit short. The latest from comScore says that the attention span of the average person is now 24 seconds.

      I do believe that user-generated content will dominate, as far as number of videos, but for a business? I can't see Bob, from sales, bringing in his handycam and video taping the CEO to be posted online, nor do I believe that text will always rule. Google and other search engines are developing systems that analyize photos and videos to include in searches. It has already happened to audio. An example is a small app for the iPhone called Shazam. This program recognizes songs and will give you the name and artist.

      While good information, I must disagree with these prediction and press on for video.

      • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

        I totally agree with you. Thanks for the comment

    • http://vidiseo.com vidiSEO

      I'm not sure I agree with predictions 3 and 4.

      Comscore is already showing that the average video viewer can handle over 3 minutes video before getting an itchy trigger finger, and user generated video will only dominate if the alternative is a lifeless, blatant advertisement.

      My prediction ? Personality will dominate in local video.

      Local businesses that use video to showcase their personality and passion will see success in video. Businesses that continue to make detached 10-15 second commercials will be left behind wondering why no one is sharing or caring about their content.

      Check out this local commercial produced by Rhett & Link to see what local business should get excited about making:

      • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

        I agree completely with you vidiseo... He has some valid ideas in 4, but I dont agree with 3

    • timdanyo

      Thanks Grant for you comments and the posting of this video. UGC is only as good as the amount of others doing the same thing. The more easy do it yourself video proliferates the internet, the more the need to disinguish yourself goes higher. It does take skills, creativity, and time to produce even a medium well made video. (uncooked in the middle:-) Going "pro" with video means there is greater chance to separate your business from everyone else. A keen video marketer can work with companies to develop comprehensive video marketing strategies and campaigns. These campaigns could even include UGC if that is the right approach. You will always have businesses who do all of their own marketing in house (ma and pa) and never spend a dime on pro marketing.