Commentary

Online Video Contests, Revisited

Last year, we discussed video contests and their benefits to online marketers -- specifically, contests featuring user submissions.  At the time, Microsoft's "I'm a PC" ad was running, with Microsoft employees, celebrities and user submissions being featured in both online and TV ads.  It's difficult to cite the specific contribution that the "I'm a PC" campaign had to the overall sales figures, but sales were up and strong last year, particularly given the economy.

Given the potential benefits -- real-life endorsements, actionable learnings and viral distribution being a few key ones -- it makes sense for any marketer to look closely at contests as a viable tool.  The only issue, at least to date, has been a lack of case studies and best practices to follow.

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That is, until now.  Earlier this month, Forrester Research's Nate Elliot (a former Media Post columnist as well) authored a report on online video contests from a marketer's perspective.   For the purpose of this column, we'll briefly touch on a key issue -- maximizing distribution -- and recommendations. 

According to Elliot , there were as many as 115 online video contests going on in early July: a far higher number than many would expect.  A typical online video contest garners 50 to 250 submissions on average: a far lower number than most would expect, especially since the estimated cost of an online video contest is between $10,000 and $250,000!

However, don't let the low submission average scare you, dear marketer.  While submission and uploading of video might represent a barrier to entry to all but the most dedicated fan -- and I'd argue that in the age of Flip Minos and iPhone 3GSs, we might see that number change -- most everyone enjoys watching user-generated  online video.  In fact, Elliot points to examples of contests that had a "couple hundred video submissions that led to well over 1 million views."

When you hear about reach and view counts in the 1 million+ range, online video contests become an even more exciting idea.  Best practices, according to Elliot, include making sure that the submissions are usable long after the contest ends (can "I'm a PC have the same impact now, long after the campaign is over?), and having steps along the way that encourage and incentivize pass-along.

For any marketer or agency interested in learning more, I recommend reading the full findings, which can be accessed here
2 comments about "Online Video Contests, Revisited ".
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  1. Rich Reader from WOMbuzz, July 21, 2009 at 3:31 p.m.

    I'm a Gravenstein, and you're a crab apple.

    We're not talking about comparables. When you pump up the volume, the incremental results don't deliver a lot of value to either the advertisers, the publishers, or the public. It's no less crazy than getting wrapped up in building numbers like Twitter follower counts, especially if you drown in the noise trying to find the creative and reusable content.

    While it's true that the volume of entries may grow due to the Flip Minos and iPhone 3GSs, the production qualities in audio and imagery will decline alongside of growth driven by the lower hurdle. When you put too much of your emphasis on building volume, the competition turns into another race to the bottom.

    Let's keep the chaos under control by keeping the distinct formats in their own appropriate classes.

  2. Joel Levinson, July 22, 2009 at noon

    2 Things:

    1) The dude from Poptent is wrong. He only gets higher quality "prosumer" ads because that is specifically what that site pushes for by its "gotta be a member" nature. If a company hosts a contest on youtube with it's wholly more open and democratic nature, they will feel the benefits of the flip and iPhone volume of entries.

    2) I'm a top ten finalist in a Quizno's contest right now for $10,000, so if you or your readers are interested in seeing a current contest to see what they shape up like, I invite you to head over, take a second to register and vote for me.

    My video is "Skyscraper of Sandwiches"

    http://promo.toastytorpedo.com/videosTop10.aspx?ucid=3481a711-fb40-4288-b46e-e6ca9635fb89

    Feel free to bookmark and vote once daily till July 31st.

    And feel free to tell your friends.

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