Why the 'Pivot to Video' Has Failed

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Credit: Illustration by Ad Age; composite images: Getty

If you want to inspire some dark laughter among publishing types, just mutter the phrase "pivot to video." You don't even have to make a joke, although it helps if you've got a good one—like this, courtesy of SkyNews staffer Mollie Goodfellow on Twitter this morning:

There's been a lot of gnashing-of-teeth about video-pivoting lately, but perhaps the most scathing take was published this week by the Columbia Journalism Review in the form of an essay titled "The secret cost of pivoting to video," by Heidi N. Moore, a veteran of The Guardian U.S. and The Wall Street Journal. Moore cites a recent Digiday post by Ross Benes, "Side effect of the pivot to video: audience shrinkage," and then declares that,

Hundreds of journalists have lost their jobs while shiny-object-chasing publishers are no closer to creating cohesive video strategies to replace the traffic those writers were producing. ... Publishers must acknowledge the pivot to video has failed, find out why, and set about to fix the reckless pivots so that publishers focus on good video.

The pivot-to-video thing has, of course, been going on for quite awhile now—see, for instance, Ad Age's story "Huffington Post Cuts Dozens of Employees as Part of Video Pivot" from January of last year, as well as "Fire Writers, Make Videos Is Latest Web Recipe for Publishers" (about, in part, Mic) from just last month. But Moore systematically deconstructs publishers' presumptions about the supposed cure-all pivot-to-video strategy and compellingly lays out her argument in four subheaded sections: "A quicksand of metrics," "Publishers are trusting frenemies too much," "Constant strategy shifts undermine the quality of video" and "User experience is lacking, particularly around advertising."

And with that I'll just say: go read it.

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