The EU Just Handed Youtube a Monopoly on Video Publishing

Youtube on phone

If you've not been following, Article 13 is the deeply controversial legislation that will radically change how copyright law is upheld across the Internet. On Tuesday the European Parliament voted in favour of the law, whose aim is to ensure a copyright holder's content isn't published online without their consent. Importantly, it will put the burden of responsibility on the publisher, rather than the copyright holder issuing strikes, to ensure copyright law is upheld on their platform.

Since Article 13 was tabled in June 2018, the internet has been in uproar – mostly because it was terrified an unforeseen victim of the law would be memes (for the record – memes aren't in danger, as there's an exception in the article for humorous content). It hasn't been helped by the image of MEPs as dinosaurs who can't even press the right button when voting on the Article, let alone understand the complexities of how the law will alter the internet for generations. 

Should the law pass, it will force publishers Youtube, Vimeo and Facebook, to filter content as it's uploaded to ensure it doesn't contain copyrighted material. One of the keenest voices against the proposal is Youtube, which is curious, as it's the only publishing platform that stands to benefit from the law being passed. Why? Because Alphabet, Youtube's parent company, has spent over $100m developing its 'Content ID' algorithm to filter content like this, through its subsidiary Google. 

Once Article 13 comes into force, content publishers like Vimeo, Reddit and Facebook are going to be faced with a choice. Either, they develop their own copyright detection algorithm, or they knock on Google's door, and ask if they can purchase theirs. Of course, given that the algorithm represents the keys to content publication, I can't imagine Google selling it as a service cheaply. They'll want to make a profit on their investment in R&D, understandably so.

Why does it matter, doesn't Youtube already have a monopoly on video distribution online? It matters because this law ensures Youtube cannot be contested. If you were concerned about Google's fingers tightening around your data before, and you enjoy watching video content online, the EU has just ensured Google won't face competition for generations to come. 

And if I were Vimeo right now, I'd be extremely worried.


How Video is Shaping Consumer Decisions

DH&Co How Video is Shaping Consumer Decisions

It's now indisputable that video is playing an increasingly fundamental role in shaping consumer purchasing behaviour, especially among under 35s. 

Let's be clear – the last decade has radically revolutionised purchasing decisions. For generations, those decisions had relied on word-of-mouth recommendations, point-of-sale information, or reviews from trusted publications. But the smartphone revolution, and free online publishing platforms like Youtube, have drastically changed the game. 

According to a recent study from Google, 50% of all internet users look for video related to a product or service before visiting a store. Before consumers see a product in the flesh, they want to see it used on a screen. 

Broadly, the videos being watched fall into three categories: 

1. Branded content and ads: Whether you're a clothing brand or a high-street bank, it doesn't matter. You need beautiful, creative, informative advertising and branded content shared across all video platforms – pushed out across Facebook, Youtube or TV campaigns. And if your key audience doesn't see an ad, then they'll probably see your product featured by...

Casey Neistat: "Samsung Galaxy S8 Review"

Casey Neistat: "Samsung Galaxy S8 Review"

2. Influencers: If you've frequented the trending tab on Youtube recently, you'll notice that a staggering amount of Youtube's most watched video content is produced by influencers. It's not a co-incidence that Samsung has been carefully creating a relationship with the most-watched vlogger on the net, Casey Neistat. And finally, once your audience has seen their favourite influencer waxing lyrical about your brand, they'll then turn to...

3. Product-specific reviews from media outlets or individuals. Here's where traditional PR strategy falls in the video world. The best reviewers around need to have your product, and any additional resources they need, to produce a compelling piece of content.

The lines are a little blurred, but it's imperative that a marketing strategy takes into account these three avenues. It's no longer enough to pay a PR to sell-in your product to journalists. Consumers want to be wowed by ads and marketing, and endeared to a product by their favourite influencers. 

Consumers want to be wowed by ads and marketing, and endeared to a product by their favourite influencers.

Another recent google study claims that in an average day 98% of 18 to 34 year-olds use their smartphone to watch video. You read that right. All young people are watching video content on their smartphone. And surprisingly (for some) – a smartphone is the under 35's viewing platform of choice. They are far less distracted when watching on their phone, compared to any other screen, including TV.

So here's the takeaway – if you're trying to appeal to an audience under 35, diverse video marketing is absolutely key.


Instagram on Steroids: How wanderlust became the definitive aesthetic of 2017



You might have seen the above photo. It's been all over the internet: medium, a hipster's favourite social blog, use it; numerous travel blogs are using it; even Canon is using it to advertise. Easy to see why – it's a lovely composition, featuring spectacular scenery, with parallel lines framing a photogenic subject, a neutral colour palette accented by a red backpack, shot at the end of golden hour. Roberto Nickson took the photo, and interestingly, despite it being viewed 7.5 million times, and downloaded by 70,000 people, Roberto hasn't been paid by anyone for it – even those using it to sell their services. Scandal? Not at all. Roberto uploaded to the free stock image site Unsplash.

Founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Mikael Cho, Unsplash has revolutionised the world of stock photography. Since its inception, the photographic community has been arguing over whether it's ethical that the photographer isn't paid for their work. That discussion will continue to rage as long as the site remains popular, and we'll sidestep it entirely here.

What has become clear, is that Unsplash has unwittingly created a homogenised photography style for blogs and small news outlets. As picture editors' budgets shrink, and blogs constantly require free imagery, Unsplash's popularity has skyrocketed. As its popularity has increased, so has its curators' particular aesthetic – what I call 'instagram on steroids'.

Even if you've not seen the above image, you'll have no doubt read articles accompanied by other images from Unsplash. Have a scan through its images here, and see if you recognise a theme.

Landscapes with filter-like colour palettes...


And many, many top-down views of macbooks and typewriters.


Put it all together, and you get the defining aesthetic of 2017: Wanderlust. Its mantra? "Adventure across the globe. Share your stories on social media. Working remotely. Drink tasty beverages."

"Adventure across the globe. Share your stories on social media. Working remotely. Drink tasty beverages"

No surprise then, that this visual trend is also seen across other stock photography and video sites, demonstrated by this recent Shutterstock's 2017 creative trends report.

But if this is the defining aesthetic of 2017, how should creators respond? Our responsibility is to avoid the temptation to produce derivative work – purely to appeal to the latest trend – while pushing the boundaries of those trends, to ensure work doesn't become stale and tired.


How our phones might ruin filmmaking


I remember the first time my uncle described it to me: “the most gripping cinematic entrance of all time.” Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia, a speck moving slowly towards the camera, emerging from a mirage. The audience waiting, anticipating: “Who is this? Are they friend or foe?” Filmed in glorious 70mm, it's gone down as one of the most captivating moments of cinema history. But scenes like this could be a thing of the past, if cinematographers start adapting their filmmaking to mobile devices.

Apparently a staggering 45% of millennials prefer to watch video on their mobile device, rather than a laptop, desktop or TV. While companies like Netflix are a black box in terms of their data, BBC iPlayer's stats seem to suggest similar findings – and every train and tube I get is filled with folk watching series and films on their phones.

But if producers start adapting filmmaking for that audience, the change will not be for the best. Why? There's no room for subtlety on a 4-inch screen.

There's no room for subtlety on a 4-inch screen.

If filmmakers start adapting films and series for the small(est) screen, surely we risk losing some of their wonder and complexity. Hitchcock's Rear Window is a good case-in-point. The careful cinematography of that famous opening scene – camera pans slowly across the apartment windows, every meticulously crafted detail unfolding the story of a group of neighbours, and a sinister mystery at its heart – doesn't work when the screen 'real estate' is so small. The wonderful sets, with their careful complexity, can't possibly be properly appreciated on mobile.

Jeff Desom:    // Currently on display at the    Museum of the Moving Image    in New York

Jeff Desom: // Currently on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York