This interview is part of VC Daily’s Future of Video Conferencing interview series, in which industry leaders tell us how they see video conferencing changing their industries and where they imagine the technology going in the coming decade.
Matthew Gielen got his start in video and social marketing after developing a large online following for his feature film The Graduate. His success led to jobs creating programming and building YouTube viewership for media companies like Frederator Networks. He is now founder and President of Little Monster Media Co., which specializes in cultivating audiences on social and video platforms.
VC Daily: Let’s start with a question that touches on both video marketing and video conferencing. How do you think video conferencing could contribute to or improve video marketing?
Gielen: When I started at [animation studio] Frederator Networks three years ago, Google Hangouts had just came out, and we moved every meeting to Google Hangouts. That’s how I prefer to do meetings and calls; video conferencing is just so much more personal. When you see someone on a screen you can make a deeper connection with them. People have actually evolved to make connections with each other by observing body language. From that perspective, more people are moving toward video conferencing as a primary form of communication over a phone call or even an in-person meeting. For example, I’ve lived in LA for a while and here, it can take hours just to go 12 miles. That’s where video conferencing comes in. As another example, my 92-year-old grandmother FaceTimes with my son. The bottom line is, if we apply a broad definition to what video conferencing is, it should be a part of every business’ marketing plan. It’s getting to a place where it’s not optional; it’s a must.
VC Daily: What opportunities does YouTube Live offer businesses that a pre-recorded video cannot?
Gielen: I look at what YouTube Live can offer the average YouTuber, which is that it gives people a platform to communicate with like-minded people. The live aspect of that, like any other live platform, removes editing biases and allows that connection to happen in real time. In addition, the chat commentary that happens in the comments also allows the community to interact with each other and the people on the live stream, making it very conversational. There’s no better sales technique than connecting through conversation.
VC Daily: Let’s get a little more futuristic. How do you think emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality will impact video marketing and video conferencing in the near and distant future?
Gielen: I was just talking to someone the other day and they were telling me about standup comedy in virtual reality–about doing a comedy show in a virtual reality space. A person wouldn’t be limited to being one of the few people lucky enough to go to one of these shows given by a big comic–you can actually feel like you’re there with virtual reality.
And if you’re an architecture firm, you might have the ability to let a client see a virtual building and walk around that building. Imagine that sales pitch!
There’s huge, huge untapped potential in virtual reality, but I think we have three to five years before that gets going in a real, meaningful way. Because VR doesn’t yet have the market penetration, it’ll be some time before the market is able to make that a viable reality.
VC Daily: It seems that younger generations are spending more and more time on screens. What do these habits tell us about how video will be consumed in the future?
Gielen: If the question is, are we just going to be on screens and leave behind interpersonal connections, it comes down to whether you believe social media connects us or not. When you get older you choose how you connect with other people. The world is about relationships, the relationship you have with the people around you, with your government, with your environment, etc. Video provides a great way for people to have relationships with like-minded people beyond who they engage with day-to-day. I think video and video conferencing give us the ability to connect and engage with people we would otherwise not be able to connect with, and I think that is a good thing.
Honestly, I don’t think things are that different from older times; it used to be that people read, then after that came radio, then television came along. It’s just a matter of how people spend the time they have. Companies actually use a time-based model because that’s currency. With YouTube, for example, the algorithm has been designed around watchtime. Facebook is designed to keep people on Facebook–that’s the goal. Time is money, and the more time you spend with these platforms the deeper your relationship with the platform, and the people on that platform becomes.
VC Daily: How personalized do you think video marketing will get in the future? Could video conferencing play a role in helping people feel more personally connected with companies?
Gielen: Ultimately, I believe there will be many stages of marketing. Currently we’re in a disruptive time because of the rate of growth of tech. Eventually with the onset of artificial intelligence (AI) and more machine learning I think advertising will be very personalized and intelligent. What will that mean for personalization? Will we all have our personal Jarvises? Will we get to a point where our personal information will be so public that AI will create personal ads and address us by name? Although I’d rather that not be the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t too far off in the future.
Right now, personalization is dumb–Google might use your purchase history to show you an ad for something you already bought. That’s a basic form of personalization, but there are a lot more advanced ways to personalize marketing.
That said, I would rather there be no advertising, in the current meaning of the word, whatsoever. Online ads in their current formation are intrusive and disruptive. I’d like to see all brands become media brands where their advertising comes in the form of making content that provides value to people.
VC Daily: In your professional opinion, what does the demise of Vine tell us about video marketing, especially the use of micro-videos?
Gielen: I tweeted something the other day in response to the story about Vine’s top creators complaining that the reason it wasn’t doing well was because of the platform. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think audiences follow personalities, characters, stories, and content they love. Yes, there’s blame to go around; for example, Vine did not have a monetization model. But again, it’s about where people choose to spend their time. When each vine is six seconds long, you can go through hundreds in a short time, and each of those vines takes a lot of time and energy and people to produce. There probably just weren’t enough new vines each day to keep people entertained for hours on end. Because of that, maybe it was always doomed to fail. Or maybe there will be a rebirth; maybe a new platform will come out and find a way to make six second videos economically viable. I hope that’s the case because I think that the more opportunities there are for people to communicate and be creative, the better.