With both digital and TV upfronts just a few weeks away, a number of brands are reassessing where they’ll put their marketing dollars next. There are many compelling arguments for investing in online video, but there are a lot of questions as well. Specifically: For brands that are just getting started, what do they really need to think about if they’re investing in digital video?
1) Don’t be afraid of native online programming. When diving into online video, many brands choose to invest in extensions of TV programming, versus series that originated online. There’s nothing wrong with that. But by sticking with just what you’ve already heard of, you may be missing out on huge opportunities.
In fact, there are many native digital stars and series that have subscriber bases and audiences that, in terms of unique viewers, can equal small-mid cable TV audiences. Ray William Johnson, Nigahiga and Smosh all boast about 5 million subscribers –- and while they may not be household names, they reach big audiences on a consistent basis.
Native digital content also has the advantage of being designed to live and breathe on the two-way communication devices (PCs, tablets, etc.) on which it is consumed. It’s often built to focus on audience participation and engagement, enhancing the earned value in a way that repurposed offline content doesn’t.
2) Look beneath the surface of the content. Let’s think about TV advertising for a second. The show “Extreme Couponing” isn’t built just for an audience interested in CPG deals, any more than “Car Talk” is just for people interested in automotive instruction. In reality, “Extreme Couponing” isn’t about coupons – it’s about extreme personality types just like “Hoarders,” “Intervention” or even “The Real Housewives.” Brands who advertise with this kind of show are reaching viewers who are interested in unique and sometimes disordered personalities.
It works the same way for online video. When choosing your investments, don’t confuse what the content is about for the audience who’s watching it. In other words, don’t just assess the content—figure out exactly who’s watching it, and where their interests lie. The genre of Science Fiction is another good example. Sci-fi storylines, if mapped against interests, are the same love stories, dramas and comedies that we see on Lifetime, TNT and Comedy Central.
Think of it this way: Harry Potter and Avatar are much more than just science fiction, and Machinima’s 3.2 billion video views on YouTube can’t all be a bunch of geeky nerds.
3) Create a symbiotic relationship. If your brand wants to sponsor or integrate itself into online content, make sure that the brand and the content support each other in a way that adds value for the consumer -- and aligns with your brand’s specific business goals.
For instance, when Buick sponsors the online NCAA March Madness tournament, it provide digital content that focuses on the philanthropic achievements of former NCAA athletes. Their program takes the existing fan enthusiasm for individual athletes and universities, and builds on it by providing additional content that is rooted in that passion but also extends to Buick’s brand goals around human achievement. In other words, the sponsored digital content both adds to the consumer experience and supports the brand’s goals. (Disclosure: Digitas works with Buick on the NCAA program.)