Is Video Dead or Is It Just Evolving?

Video DNA

Video DNA Changing Communication

You’d think from the uproar about Pokemon Go taking over the world and VR the next big thing in advertising, that other forms of marketing were quietly being discarded.

Far from it!

Video is still growing as the advertising medium of choice.

According to the latest Publicis Groupe’s Online Video Forecasts 2016 released yesterday by Zenith, not only is video holding its position as a brand advertising medium on the web but it’s going mobile in a big way.

Video viewing on mobile devices is currently set to grow 33% next year and by 2018 mobile devices will account for well over half of all online video viewing.

Better connectivity and bigger screens make mobile a moving video depository.

As the report points out this produces creative opportunities for brands to combine a library of video ads targeting mobile users in specific locations with personalised content.

Despite the hesitancy still evinced by some in-house marketing teams, video is here to stay.

Other forms of marketing will have to make room both in the hectic schedules of overworked marketers and their budgets because the consumer medium of choice has muscled its way right to the centre of our online communications experience.

Questions brands face as they evolve a video strategy are

  • how important is the quality of content?
  • what sort of budgets are we talking about?
  • how quickly does this video need to be posted?
  • how much time can we afford to invest in video production?

Mendip Media’s experience shows that quality of content is important if you’re going to engage potential customers.

I deal with programmatic and the quality of programmatic content in my next blog, but throw-away video risks brand reputation and irrelevancy, which means the decision isn’t about how much to spend on video, but whether to produce video in-house or in-agency.

And yes, timing matters; video is not a single TV ad, but a series of on-going conversations with brand targets which seize the moment, reflect the current video landscape and run with potential buyer appetite.

Timing is vital for video ROI. Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube has proved this.

The biggest and most difficult part of bringing video into the centre of brand marketing is the time it requires from within the organisation to oversee and marshal the complex process of video production.

Sparing precious in-house resource to oversee the whole video journey is a task usually outside most marketers’ experience, and too often it’s seen as the dud job or given to a junior.

The input required from a client in the respect of video production on an ongoing basis is time consuming and important; the more input from the client the better quality and better results the video will get in the market place.

With mobile video set to be a consistent part of consumer’s understanding of the retail world, video strategy is more important than ever and needs real commitment.

Should We Believe the Stats About Video?

Video Content Soars Away

Video Content Soars Away

There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Stats for online video are mind boggling. Last year users of Twitch watched 459,000 years of video, and that’s only one video platform.

So according to the online analytics guys, if you believe their stats, there’s a sea of video out there and the demand for it seems only to increase.

The decision for marketers is whether internet video can work for them and their brands to influence buying behaviour.

The truth is that not all video works well for brands; in fact, unless it is a deep part of an overall marketing campaign, video can be just as invisible as other online media.

Despite the zillions of video clips jangling around on the internet, the lie is that unless you have a plan for how your video is going to stand out or make an impression, it’ll just merge into the general glut of content.

But given that there is an insatiable demand for video and that no blog or social media post seems complete without a clip, how do marketers go about making sure the material they upload is going to grab attention.

Some tips:

Make sure the content you commission is high-quality and professionally made. If you want to upload something you did on the weekend on your iPhone that’s cool; it might briefly appeal to your Facebook friends but it won’t do anything for your brand

Make sure that you have a strategy for your video. Professional video is important marketing content.  It’ll have cost a few quid, so it needs to be delivered on a timeline into the social media channels and website in a measureable way.

Recognise that one video is not going to cut it (except in exceptional circumstances) and that you’ll need an agreed video output over a marketing cycle.

Budget properly for video production – there are many ways to do this. Bring it in-house, contract a partnership with a reliable outsourced production company, work with your existing agency, but don’t think that video is a bolt on. Once it’s part of the marketing strategy it’s as integral as any other marketing spend.

Make time. Creating good video is complex. It’s a process that requires client input. So ensure you’ve got someone who’ll take charge of the process and input the thinking, the vision, the brief and the time to work with the video producers to create the right output.

Where Does Money Come From?

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking

Now that we’ve had a few days to enjoy our new status as non-Europeans and Glastonbury is over, we should be getting back to business.

But … wait … oh dear … our trading partners are putting their dealings with us on hold because there are years of uncertainty ahead.

According to last Thursday’s vote, the majority of Britons believe we’re opening the door to trading with the world. Really?

No matter, according to the Leave campaign, in the short term things might be depressed but we’ll experience a surge sometime around 2020. So that’s how many years …

In the meantime the State will deal with the economic problems faced by its people.

The State will give them benefits when their jobs have gone, the State will look after their health when stress over falling incomes kicks in, the State will pay their pensions when big corporates decide to sell up and the pension pot is found wanting, the State will protect them from the harm that upheavals across the Channel might cause. That’s what we expect from the State.

Because money doesn’t grow on trees but is paid in the form of taxes, most of which come from trade, the State might start to find itself short of cash.

It will have to borrow money, but because of Britain’s non-European status, it will have to pay dearly for that money; much more than before.

And so the great British State, of which so much has been said, might find itself unable to fulfil its commitments to its people.

It will ask us to work harder, trade smarter, export more, so it can take our taxes to pay for all the stuff that keeps a country running.

But what if business can’t find buyers for their goods and services; particularly if those buyers start to look to other countries inside their tariff-free, trading block to work with?

What happened to Britain on Thursday 23rd June 2016 changed the course of the country’s history.

The narrative of a modern, integrated, European nation stopped on that day.

As a result the country has entered a post-modern, fragmented, fractious period, in which trade and economics are subordinated to politics.

This will cause businesses to falter and inevitably jobs to be lost.

The entrepreneurial spirit which has taken decades to foster will be snubbed out for years to come, and everyone, but everyone, will be affected.

And the State will not be able to cope because its new leaders, with the ties to Europe cut, don’t know how to take forward a rudderless British project.

We were warned.

What Future for the UK?

UK Looses Its Star

UK Looses Its Star

I don’t normally write about my political feelings, but there comes a time when you need to let off steam.

Despite the fact that pretty much every global business leader and economic think tank warned the Brits that it would be disastrous to leave our biggest market, cut ourselves off from our largest trading partner, isolate ourselves and give the rest of the world NO reason to come and invest in the UK, what have we done!

The result of the UK referendum on Europe is nothing to do with the future well-being of the United Kingdom.

Simply, it is a terrible settling of political scores within the Tory party. And I’m writing this as a Conservative voter (now an ex-Conservative voter as I shall never vote for them again).

As a small business owner with my company’s future bound up in inward investment from Europe, I am now considering what to do.

The choice we made as a country yesterday is, only a few hours on, already leading to changes of decisions by inward investors (not just Europeans) as to whether to spend their money in Britain. This means jobs.

And as to those global foreign investors already here, they will be calling meetings in the next few days to decide whether it’s worth staying.

The cry of democracy and freedom from the Leave campaign has been disingenuous. Democracy is only possible where there is peace and prosperity. And these two prerequisites rely on trade, open borders and good relations with neighbours.

Britain has just closed the door.

Its peoples’ actions – and there is no-one else responsible – will now rebound on an already fragile Europe.

We have left our friends when they need us, we have given the nationalists cause to push for a disintegration of the UK, we have endangered both big and small business, we have lost a generation of good, honest leaders who will leave politics in disgust.

In short we have stymied our own future both short and long term.

And this time we can’t blame the politicians.

The majority of the elected wished to remain; they implored us to think of our children and our neighbours. Instead it seems we heard only the bitter refrain of the immigrant question; the irony is now that we’ve voted out it won’t solve the ‘so-called’ immigration problem one jot.

We will watch the slow, painful decline of our country.

It won’t be a quick, sharp shock, but a long drawn out affair as one large corporate after another leaves, trailing jobs and supply chains in their wake.

Costs will inevitably rise as the currency weakens.

And, worst of all, we have brought into being a political class who don’t mind telling untruths or pandering to populist sentiment.

These people will run Britain; not so much clowns or buffoons, but dangerous nationalists disrespected by the rest of the civilised world. Imagine them negotiating trade deals with the EU?

In the end, there will be finger pointing, there will be uncertainty and recrimination, but there is no one else to blame for foregoing a bright, strong and modern future, except ourselves.

Food Just Got Sexier

Sucking Up Food Porn

Sucking Up Food Porn

Food photography, video and chatter is everywhere.

Food has been a magazine and TV staple for as long as there has been print or film canisters.

10 years ago I produced a BBC programme about Raymond Postgate, founder of the Good Food Guide, and discovered archives of magazine material from a time of post-war deprivation in the late 1940s and early 50s, that yearned for decent, wholesome, un-rationed food.

Now we’re drowning in the stuff.

We might not know how to cook an omelette, opting instead for junk or ready-meals, but there’s no shortage of cheap produce and supermarkets to shovel it out.

The point is that food is common ground. The two life experiences we can safely say we’ve all enjoyed are eating and sex. And eating probably has the edge.

So it’s little wonder that in a world of surfeit and continual overdosing of everything, that food gets extra special exposure.

Portrayals of food dishes and all the rituals that go with it are a particular western fetish.

Whole industries have grown up around the visualisation of food.

Whether it’s the TV cookery show, Food Tube or a culinary travel writing/photography course in Cambodia, there are a lot of people employed to produce food imagery.

What interests me is how this pervasive visual reference to food influences us, sustains us and is of cultural importance to us. After all there’s only so much food we can eat, but there are vast numbers of images and aspirations we are encouraged to embrace.

And at Mendip Media we’re in the thick of it.

We produce a lot of food related videos for a client who quite rightly insists on perfectly produced recipes to inspire its customers.

This comes at a cost, but the good looking videos that result from a host of skilled chefs and stylists working hard to make a pepper redder or a dish more appetising is part of the aspirational drive that keeps us hooked on the drama of food.

And maybe, in the end, it’s because food is of such central importance to human wellbeing, that seeing the perfectly produced dish is now a touchstone of our culture.

Food photos and videos remind us that we are civilised, ask us to explore our own creativity, expand our knowledge of other’s food repertoire, imagine us into a space that we’ll probably never achieve but non-the-less open a door on the possibility of becoming great through producing pleasure on plate.

These food references are both sexy and comforting, and for that reason will continue in their soar-away popularity until something significant happens to disrupt our current culture.

Field to Food

The season of agricultural and country shows is well and truly underway.

The Royal Bath and West Show kicks off a four day celebration of farming and rural life in Somerset.

From early May to late August the British public is offered the chance to access and find out about the working countryside, that’s if they can find the agricultural kernel around which the shows are built.

Nowadays the farming exhibits are enveloped by a necessary commercialism.

The cost of staging a big event in the rural community where agriculture takes place is enormous and has to be paid for through ticket sales, sponsorship and stalls.

It’s a pitiless round of attracting large crowds of largely urban folk to come and spend their money at an event, which whilst it has cows, sheep and cheese, must entertain the general visitor. The mainstay of large rural shows these days is no longer the livestock or produce, but non-agricultural spectacles, fairgrounds and music.

The smaller shows fare better, being run by enthusiastic volunteers with the support of the immediate rural community, but even these events are succumbing to commercial necessity by increasing the non-agricultural content.

So what are these shows for?

I remember when I covered the Bath and West Show for local BBC radio in the 90s; debate amongst members of the Society about change to its agricultural character was fierce.

When the Royal Show based in Warwickshire folded in 2009, it sent a shiver down the spine of those involved in the rural economy.

This was one of the oldest agricultural shows in the UK, run by the Royal Agricultural Society of England since 1839. If the Royal Show, that only a few years earlier had attracted over 100,000 visitors over four days, couldn’t hack it in the noughties, then what was the future for similar events?

It was clear then as it now, that what was once an annual meeting of the local farming community to show off their livestock and produce has become an event celebrating a much bigger rural theme, with attractions far beyond an agricultural remit.

And yet the founding principles still beat deep in the heart of shows like the Bath and West.

As a Society, the Royal Bath and West exists to educate the public about farming and to support scientific developments in agriculture. Founded in 1777 it aims ‘to encourage agriculture, arts, manufacture and commerce’.

The Bath and West Show is a manifestation of these aims in the modern age, and therein lies an opportunity to tap into the interest, anxieties and love of food by food obsessed public.

An agricultural show, with its long heritage, has to be the place to tell the story of ingredients from field to plate; a ready-made hub where producers and buyers meet to celebrate how food is made.

Video is Now Central to Brand Marketing Strategy

Video At the Heart of Brand Marketing

Video At the Heart of Brand Marketing

It’s official; advertisers are spending more, a lot more, on video in the digital space.

The IAB’s 2015 Ad Spend Report shows that video is not only at the heart of brand marketing strategies but leading them.

When Mendip Media launched 10 years ago specifically to create video communications for the internet, people shook their heads and wondered.

In those days, video codecs were the stuff of science fiction and broadband was just taking over from dial-up.

What a long way we’ve come in a just a decade!

And Mendip Media has been there every step of the way.

Video has been edging up the content spend league for the past couple of years, but now it’s exploding. This is partly to do with the huge appetite for video on mobile, but also to due to innovations in advertising delivery platforms and a growing understanding of how it works in the digital space.

But despite the stats, our experience is that most marketing teams are still wary of video as a content tool.

There seem to be several reasons for this;

  • Video is seen as complex and time-consuming content to create for a company’s in-house marketers.
  • It is always perceived as costly when compared to other marketing content
  • It is disruptive because it doesn’t necessarily fit with traditional marketing methods
  • It requires extra input which means it’s easier to hand over to lead agencies that have no specific expertise, which can make for expensive but ineffective video
  • Failure to strategise video into the overall marketing leads to video being pro
  • duced with no-where to put it

All the above may be valid if video is not properly planned and budgeted for, but most video production companies offer solutions that make strategizing, commissioning and distributing video much easier than anticipated.

Mendip Media has long been specialising in multiple video communications across organisations – advising, planning, creating and seeding video.

This is about strategy, cost effective use of budgets, smart production of complex content and ultimately visibility in social channels.

And here’s the thing; as the IAB report shows, if you want to get your brand seen in the digital space you have to produce great video.

Strategic Video Communication in PR

Video Comms for Business

Video Comms for Business

Video in public relations requires strategy.

Here I’m distinguishing public relations as separate from marketing by the fact that PR is about managing and curating current stories whilst marketing is about creating them.

Organisations and businesses now have the means via the internet to manage a newsroom that includes video in the output.

There are some companies that do this regularly.

The ones that do have the budgets for a newsroom operation often churn out the driest content; banks and financial institutions have a compulsion to upload talking-head CEOs spouting technical jargon that gets few views.

If PR video fails to do its job of informing and entertaining it’s not because video is at fault but the material it is supporting lacks strategy or is poorly executed or simply lazy output.

Most companies, especially the ones that are doing visually engaging activities like building or technology believe they don’t have the budgets to sustain PR video on an ongoing basis, which may be true; PR video is not for every business.

Financial sustainability of multiple news video is down to a careful integration of video strategy into PR planning. It is possible on a reasonable budget to contract for the production of a given number of videos in a month for either uploading into the social media networks or holding them for the right moment.

It’s about weighing up the effectiveness of using video on a regular basis to tell the good news stories in an organisation in a colourful way that pro-actively manages its relations with many stakeholders; customers, investors, employees, against other forms of PR.

Planned video output can be a very powerful tool in ongoing communications with everyone involved the business journey. Its effectiveness derives from the quality of the content and the understanding of how video supports other comms activities.

PR video can be produced in-house as an adjunct of the marketing department or outsourced to a long-term partner with the capability of producing multiple ‘news’ style videos and turning them around in a 48 hour timeframe.

Success or failure of an organisation’s PR video in communicating with its stakeholders relies on a clear strategy and commitment to consistent, ongoing, high-quality output which is used pretty much as soon as it’s produced in the channels that connect with its audience.

There is nothing flash or fancy about PR video, but with good, old fashioned, news management, long term multiple video output lays a bedrock of trust in a business organisation that will build archive and communicate fully with stakeholders.

Instagram Promotes Creative Video

Instagram Accelerates Video Uploads

Instagram Accelerates Video Uploads

Instagram is capitalising on the success of video on its platform by introducing a showcase of the best content creators and curated channels.

Available only to US-based iOS and Android users, the new channels are hosted on the Explore page of Instagram and will be rolled out globally in the next year.

This change is a clear indication that the video shorts format, which now has an Instagram style all of its own, is another staging post in the online video journey.

I’ve written before about the phenomenal growth of Instagram as a video platform in such a short time; but it’s worth saying again that video is exploding as a media format.

The appetite to watch and share video shorts is a revelation.

And this time brands that want to be seen and be relevant to their customers have to get involved in the rapidly changing sharing habits of the internet generation.

Whereas You Tube has a multifunctional, all embracing role as a video platform, or perhaps more correctly, a video engine, there can be no doubt that Instagram has one role only and that is to encourage sharing and conversation around visual content to create a huge community that spends as much time as possible immersed in the platform.

And video on Instagram is catching up with photo content.

It’s interesting that specific styles of filming have emerged so quickly to define an Instagram video, which must be a result of the restrictions placed on producers by the platform (very unlike You Tube).

Instagram videos are 15 seconds (if not paid for) and restricted by a square format. The overhead style with stop-motion is now ubiquitous. This is a great example of how memes develop through experiment and innovation and then just become an internet norm.

It also shows how users are hacking the platform to upload videos that clearly are not created, as intended, on mobile devices, but in carefully edited sequences on professional cameras.

Drop a pebble in the water and watch the ripples spread.

Instagram is the platform of our time.It appeals to our appetite for the visual, for sharing, for showing, and it’s not too fussy about what’s uploaded.

Brands can use it and become friends with their followers. Their video needs to be more polished than that of your average Joe, but when brands do Instagram well like Jamie Oliver, it is sheer magic to see how the links across all social media outputs seamlessly drive towards a consumer message.

Food Revolutions & Making a Difference

Viva The Food Revolution

Viva The Food Revolution

Social media, video and a new cultural vibe are making a difference to the food scene in our town.

Bristol has an exhilarating vitality about it, as pop-up restaurants, food stalls, food markets and food producers, growers and chefs impact on the city.

Bristol Food Connections Festival has just finished. This embodies the activist food culture in Bristol like no other event.

By the people for the people, Bristol Food Connections is about grass roots involvement with food – from growing on waste land, food education, sharing different cuisines to re-purposing the accepted food production infrastructure.

It’s ambitious, sometimes chaotic, community-led and challenging.

Using social media to spread the word, the Festival, now in its third year and run entirely by volunteers, is connected to its disparate contributors via the internet; it’s what glues it and fuels it.

As part of the event earlier in the month, Mendip Media along with a host of interested foodies celebrated British asparagus production with a five course meal made by Michelin star chefs in a Mongolian yurt next to the main railway terminal; an event supported by a brilliantly orchestrated social  media campaign.

This cross fertilisation of media, the internet, food and raw talent is raising the temperature to boiling point and fusing new cultural possibilities.

And now Bristol has the elite Silver Award for being a Sustainable Food City.

As part of a network of cities and towns across the world, Sustainable Food Cities membership involves developing a cross-sector partnership of local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs committed to working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live.

The Great British Asparagus Feast

The Great British Asparagus Feast

And in Bristol it’s little surprise that as one food festival finishes, another bold and noisy food event is upon us.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day bursts into life tomorrow on 20th May.

Billed as an annual global day that celebrates good, fresh, real food that shouts about the benefits of cooking from scratch, it has a slickness of purpose that comes from big financial backing.

But for all its professional video-led marketing and absolute mastery of internet communications, it is no less serious about changing attitudes to food.

In fact, thank god for Jamie Oliver’s elevation from pukka TV chef boy to a serious player in food politics.

Jamie is a champion that might just succeed, because of his social media savviness, in dragging not only the food retailers and their supply chain but a so-far indifferent public, out of the morass of poor eating that we’ve become accustomed to over many decades.

Viva the Food Revolution!

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