Truth is that in the past twenty years we’ve moved from a relatively stable world of knowing where to find what kind of content distributed as particular media to an unrecognisable topsy turvy landscape of pervasive media.
Keep up! This is a time of upheaval and experimentation at breakneck speed.
If you don’t canter ahead, you could end up being trampled by the sheer volume of content galloping out of every conceivable nook and cranny. This weight of information crashes along multiple channels demanding a call to action from those it hits.
The more content and noise multiplies so differentiation is harder to find, which is why the high quality, entertaining messages will be the only ones to cut through.
And with people now receiving music, video, games, text, photos on more than one device, often at the same time, creating contextual content is no longer straight forward.
I’m a glass full type of person, so whilst the challenges of making the right content for the right device on a full time, full-on basis is problematic, I reckon the opportunities for marketers in this new space have never been greater.
Why am I not surprised when I read articles like the one by Christopher Ratcliffe on the Econsultancy blog telling me that nearly three quarters of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand.
This is part of an enormous body of evidence that now exists proving video communications is a powerful tool in persuading people to buy product, not necessarily through the old 30’ spots, but using a variety of techniques from demonstration to testimonial.
Given that video is such an important communications device, it’s more interesting to drill down into the stats and find out what kind of videos capture the viewers’ attention.
I suspect that if you slap up any old video or badly filmed content with poor audio, then percentage conversion to sale will fall away rapidly.
As Ratcliffe’s article goes on to say “the best types of videos are the ones where the message is delivered clearly and succinctly, but also in a manner that’s humorous, inventive or engaging”, which means ideas about how to package the message are just as important as quality and context.
Get all three right and the rewards will start to roll in.
Yep, I’ve watched Kendra Eash’s video published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies that rips the shit out of video clichés, and I cringe, not because the examples used are not cringe-worthy (which they truly are), but because you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve used several of them in my work over the years.
But there’s a subtler point here in the fact this video can be made at all and have real resonance with viewers; it tells us that online video has come of age.
People recognise the clichés and understand a vocabulary that has developed over the past decade in corporate and promotional videos
As Fash’s sharp wit illustrates, in a relatively short time video has developed a strong common visual language that can be mocked for being stereotyped.
It’s amazing that this medium of video, once the sole sphere of broadcaster and film makers, is now being made by everyone, everywhere, and its formats, created from scratch by video pioneers, are being questioned and morphed (as all interesting creative forms should) at an accelerated pace.
Something tells me this video revolution has a long way to go yet.
A core ingredient of TV broadcast output, cookery shows have created feted celebrities and food crazes, but could it be as the media landscape changes forever that this last bastion of television commissioning is about to fall.
If Jamie Oliver’s determined iconoclasm carries the day, it almost certainly marks the end of the way cooking programmes are shared with the viewer.
Jamie’s Food Tube doesn’t really do anything markedly different to other cookery formats in the videos themselves; although his cheekiness is given free rein as he glugs down wine from the bottle (something someone at the BBC would have left on the cutting room floor).
You Tube is eroding the reach of the broadcasters. This we know.
But when the protagonists themselves start producing and distributing their own content, cutting out the army of expensive TV producers and the like, the situation is probably terminal for the kind of TV that some of us have known all their lives.
The change is not the how the content is presented, in some ways back to the basics of TV cookery, but how it’s distributed and paid for.
The most successful You Tube channels publish video once or twice a week and they don’t attempt to create faux viral.
Brands that have aligned themselves to the rhythms of the You Tube generation are reaping the benefits of huge viewing figures and real customer participation as evidenced by high subscriptions and hundreds of comments on video content.
Econsultancy’s casestudy of Go Pro on You Tube is well worth absorbing.
Although it’s true the product (Go Pros cameras), channel and content are perfectly aligned, which for 99% of brands simply won’t be the case, the way in which the marketing team have strategised the output is admirable.
So what makes these video channels work?
Investment in content that engages is the answer; brands that invest in the producers, directors, participants, athletes, editors, who constantly make videos that people want to watch, like this one that has nearly 30 million views, are growing fast.
It’s not enough to make a video, shove it on You Tube and then wait for it to work like magic bait to bring the sales rolling in.
Video should form part of a long term strategy that aims to plan and refresh material on an on going basis with consideration given to where it will appear in other social media channels.
As Google’s Andrew Bent says, “brands must use YouTube in the future, but they must know the type of user they are targeting; those in either browse mode or search mode. Those that are in browse mode are looking for content that’s inspirational and entertaining”.
And there’s the rub; it’s not about creating one great viral, but as Brent goes on to argue, “it’s about being regular and reliable. It’s not about cut through, it’s not about disruption. You Tubers don’t do three campaigns a year; they do three videos a week. And that gives people a reason to return”.
Producing consistent, high-quality content that informs viewers of benefits, but doesn’t sell product directly on a regular basis is a simple but winning formula for building an audience.
The process requires investment and understanding of the medium, but will translate into greater brand engagement and ultimately higher basket volume and value.
There are still those who don’t believe in the power of online video to alter consumer behaviour.
Insisting on yet more specific analytics to prove a case that was done and dusted half a decade ago, they represent a minority of business managers, including remnants of a stubborn club who don’t believe social media works either.
In a quarter when Audi announced that following the launch of three new videos on car finance, visitors to the finance section of its website increased by 82%, it seems hard to argue against video as a form that truly engages, interests and explains complex subject matter in a digestible way to a majority of people.
And provides a call to action that results in purchase.
It’s true that on the whole the unbelievers are confined to some B2B leaders, who can’t see how social media, let alone online video, can help them interact with potential customers.
This will change, even in the last dusty corners of businesses that believe they’re immune to the seismic shifts the Internet is making in selling behaviour,
For most serious brands video is a key marketing tool, but contextualising and placement present real difficulties because of the speed of video consumption and the seeming lack of analytical tracking available to keep tabs on its efficacy.
So will the placement of video ads in the online environment eventually become a programmatic exchange, where the trading of billions of advertising impressions to the right audience at the right time for the right price is automated?
This is already happening.
Since YouTube enabled the bulk of its video inventory for programmatic buying in 2011, online video has become one of the most important and profitable channels of digital advertising.
Many believe this has shifted the balance of power from content producers to the buyers, with the result that agencies are quickly becoming brokers both buying and selling content on behalf of their clients, with the result that higher volumes of inventory are being bought for lower prices via the open marketplace.
The approach, although highly effective, has led many advertisers to view programmatically traded advertising as suitable for remnant inventory alone, rather than premium – an image it needs to shed if the market is to advance to the next stage and assert itself as a branding medium.
As content producers we look forward to working with agencies and advertisers who see the online video, from premium content creation to strategic placement in the networks, either via programmatic trading or otherwise, as part of an indivisible process.
These video spaces are challenging for creatives, but not so different from 10 second TV ad spots, where re-versioned clips from longer adverts bookend upcoming programmes. The trick is still narrative compression.
Think of a product story and, without losing coherence, tell it in the shortest number of frames possible.
Some of the best Vine videos use animation and trickery well. Check out Tee Ken Ng’s Vine Channel. But truthfully 6 seconds is probably only good for trickery and single shot uploads of cats and babies.
At 15 seconds, Instagram videos, known as Instavids (!), are positively epic compared to their little rival, thus offering an opportunity to make a more rounded narrative; see Puma’s Cesc Fabregas neat product plug.