Increasingly, and especially in recent years, governments are looking to utilise technology and solutions similar to those used by broadcasters. Whether it’s consumers searching for the latest information on Covid-19, or updates on the ongoing Brexit process over the course of the last few years, public demand for access to government video content to keep them informed and educated has soared. This has been particularly prominent amongst the younger generation, who have shown a renewed interest in the political landscape.
Along with this, consumers have now adapted to consume content on-demand in the shape of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and their growing list of competitors. More and more consumers now expect content to be readily available at the click of a button, and as the amount of video being created continues to increase, demand has grown, with reports predicting that by 2021 people will spend 100 minutes a day watching online videos. What’s more, with the younger generation now consuming content in smaller chunks, short form video content is increasingly becoming the go-to solution.
With these developing trends in mind, how can governments adapt their video content sharing strategies to meet the change in audience demand and keep pace with technological developments?
Leveraging intuitive technologies for ease of access
For on-demand content, many government bodies already have the capability to provide pre-recorded content in an intuitive searchable library, with basic ‘resume playing’ and ‘watch from start’ capabilities. For example, the UK Parliament offers web browsers a library of video content which is searchable by keywords or date. However, a crucial consideration in this area for governments who already offer a similar provision is that public tolerance for rudimentary search functions is low, with many used to the slick interfaces and ease of use provided by the likes of Netflix. This is where expanded search functions are key, such as allowing end users to benefit from intelligent metadata tags content more accurately for easier searching, and minimising user frustration.
Another consideration for governmental content is the language in which it is recorded and available to be accessed in. The capability to play content in different languages, or to turn on subtitles in a language of the user’s choice is crucial, especially in today’s multi-cultural societies. This is especially important for key events that may have global audiences, as it enables governments to disseminate content worldwide. This is particularly relevant when considering ongoing political issues in the UK such as Brexit. With a renewed interest in European politics due to the UK’s departure from the European Union, a greater audience is now looking to consume and share such content.
Changing viewing habits has meant that many now consume video content via social media channels, especially the younger demographic. With global brands maintaining a level of communication with their followers, governments can follow this lead by promoting short clips on prominent channels and encouraging engagement from their followers. Therefore, the ability to clip key sections of longer pieces of content for sharing on social media is a key requirement for digital-savvy government bodies. This can be a powerful way of quickly sharing important messages with the public – particularly in instances where speeches may still be in progress, but there’s a need to quickly clip and share highlights. As an example, members of the European Parliament will soon be able to clip live feeds, such as prominent speeches, for use on their own website or social media channels. It is then a simple process for the end user to share or download for their personal use.
The importance of topical events
Governments need to be aware of the potential fluctuation in demand for their content, with key events causing spikes which, if not planned for, can cause video services to slow down or crash. Referring back to viewing stats for previous similar events can allow governments to predict and plan ahead for changes in demand. One such example is the key voting sessions on Brexit in the UK Parliament, which drew greater numbers of viewers compared to a standard day, with more people wanting to access the content both live and on demand. With the right support and infrastructure in place, governments can adapt their solutions to deal with increased numbers, freeing up bandwidth through methods such as disabling embed codes for third parties to ease the pressures during key events.
Certain incidents or events can also resonate with specific areas or countries, meaning governments need to be aware of the potential locality of a demand spike and its resulting audience. For instance, the inclusion of a UK Parliamentary video player by a German newspaper covering a key Brexit vote achieved large amounts of traffic due to the interest in the result.
Segmentation and recommendations
Streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime use algorithms to present recommended titles to their users based on watch history and previous genre preferences. Through the use of the same technologies, governments can direct relevant video content to the most appropriate audience. For example, this could mean that video updates explaining new child benefits could be directed towards users of the service who have searched for this kind of content previously. This ensures that niche content that might otherwise remain buried in an extensive content archive reaches those who are most interested in consuming it.
A new age in content dissemination
A new age in broadcasting has changed the way people consume content and has inspired a technological change in how governments share relevant information. The challenge for government bodies has been to find engaging ways to disseminate content outside of the standard press junkets and media channels, with a need for them to be able to capture and share their own video. With transparency more important to the general public than ever before, the ability to source video footage of key government updates and events is key to ensuring public trust and halting the spread of misinformation.
This is critically important in the context of parliamentary content, where it is vital to remain neutral and unbiased. Live streaming capabilities allow for parliamentary footage to be shown in its original form without being edited, which is key for absolute transparency, and allows the end user to receive the content in the way it was intended.
By utilising similar technologies to broadcasters, governments are able to share video content to anyone who has an internet connection to access it. The key is to consider the user experience, and to ensure that content is readily available and easily searchable for viewers. This ultimately allows for governments to spread key messages across a wider reach of people, in an authentic and transparent way.