February 19, 2024

Opportunities for micro-content emerge as the battle for viewers’ attention continues

Last November, the Chinese mini-drama App – “RealShort” achieved nearly two million downloads in the United States. At one point, it even surpassed TikTok to become the most popular free entertainment app on the iOS platform. Upon closer investigation, it appears that more and more young people are starting to develop the preference of watching drama series at twice the speed. To save time, some would even choose to watch quick run-throughs that reveal the endings of the plots.

These two changes represent an apparent trend: in the future, viewers’ attention will be an increasingly scarce resource.

Micro-content presents two major business opportunities: platform & technology

I often say that it is very difficult to change users’ habits with new products, but a paradigm shift in consumers’ behavior often presents enormous business opportunities. Therefore, the question we should be asking is what kind of business opportunities will emerge with this increasing focus on time efficiency and quick content?

The first opportunity lies in new content platforms. New platforms offering different micro-content have existed long before micro drama apps. From Snapchat to Tiktok, short-video platforms are undoubtedly the most popular form of social media for the next generation. Other similar social media platforms include: Axios, a news platform that is focused on smart and concise communication (Smart Brevity) as well as quick summaries; and flier, a Japanese book summary website that boils down a book into content that can be read in ten minutes.

Aside from platforms, micro-content technologies and services present another growing opportunity that is currently being driven by mainstream short videos.

AKA Virtual, a Japanese 3D content solution provider that is funded by Cherubic Ventures, targets specifically at the opportunities presented by micro-content. They provide all the services that is needed to produce 3D short videos, from scripting, storyboarding, and video production to livestreaming and interaction.

Interestingly, AKA Virtual is targeting a group of people whom we used to think were the best content creators: filmmakers, comic artists, and cartoon makers.

How AKA Virtual creates “Pixar-quality” micro-content instantly with low costs

AKA Virtual was founded in 2017, and it began with the production of vTuber. Currently, it has 25 vTuber characters. Hololive, one of the two major vTuber agencies in Japan, is also its client. After its initial success in the vTuber market, AKA Virtual realized that while traditional filmmakers, comic artists, and cartoon makers own the IPs of classic virtual characters, they did not know how to reach younger audience with short videos.

It’s all about making content, but why do traditional animation creators find it difficult to get into short videos?

A game developer, for instance, may be very good at designing 3D virtual characters and images in great detail. However, traditional 3D modeling is both expensive and time-consuming. Hence, these developers are unable to create short videos at a high frequency to match the algorithm of modern short-video platforms.

For cartoon and comic makers, their strengths in plotting and storytelling do not necessarily work on short videos where the creators have to arouse the audience’s curiosity and reach a climax in a short period of time. If they wish to reach new audience on a short-video platform, they have to produce content that emphasize on a high degree of interaction with fans without resembling advertisements. All of this is different from the process for traditional content production.

Simply put, the production process for micro-content has to be more agile, flexible, and immediate. AKA Virtual’s product dramatically reduces the time and cost it takes to generate 3D animation. This allows creators to produce high-quality, “Pixar-grade” 3D animations with simple tools such as mobile phones and computers. By empowering users with the ability to generate videos with footages shot on phones, AKA Virtual’s solution was adopted by Sega, the reputable game developer, last year.

Micro-content is believed to become the mainstream storytelling method for the next generation. Any creator who wants to reach out to new audience via real or virtual characters must learn to use micro-content as a way to interact with fans. In addition, the rise of generative AI and summarizing apps will only promote the spread of micro-content in our lives.

As a result, people will have even less patience for information absorption, and they will become more selective on the type of content they spend time on. For anyone who wishes to stand out from this vast sea of content, it is not enough to master the necessary tools and techniques only; more importantly, the content itself has to impress and bring value to the audience in order to get views.

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