London's Lessons

As the sports world turns their collective attention from the London Summer Games to the start of the 2012 National Football League season, online video will continue to play a vital role in the way content is delivered to fans through innovative and engaging experiences.   With a plethora of tools available for marketers, online video has certainly made the cut and deserves a spot on the team.

The proof is certainly in the pudding.  Online video offers a unique opportunity for brands to get in front of fans.  According to comScore, there were 180 million U.S. internet users who watched 33 billion online videos in June 2011, up from 178 million users and 6 billion in June 2012.  Additionally, there were 11 billion video ads viewed.  That’s a lot of eyeballs.

While there’s no denying the power of online video, the sports industry in particular still lacks some necessary insights to effectively produce content that blends a unique experience for fans while giving them the ability to deliver their message.  What these past Olympics showed us is that fans certainly have a voice when it comes to conveying the way content is delivered to them. 

A day didn’t go by during the two weeks in London where critics cried foul when reviewing taped versus live coverage. Grumblings about this were omnipresent on social media channels like Twitter ,and even Jon Stewart from “The Daily Show” dedicated air-time in lampooning how the national media spoiled the results from the Olympics by saying that they wouldn’t when, in fact, they did.

So, how do brands avoid these types of pitfalls and ensure that they sidestep all the boo-birds?  For starters, product integration can help brands in addressing some of these pain points, but it also presents another question. What is the best way to create and implement this form of online video marketing?

Much like the teams that are put together on the field, sports fans look for authenticity in performance. They want to know that the teams that they are watching are going to give 100% and not cut corners. No one likes a cheat. Just ask Melkey Cabrera. Similarly, brands need to look for a partner that is going to demand authenticity. Sports fans can read through a lot of fluff and have an uncanny eye for when they think they’re being used or exploited. 

What’s more, fans like to be in control, and providing authentic content can lead to sharing information with fellow fans while making the entire online video engagement experience democratic.  Empowering fans with this ability is a strong proposition for brands, and the last thing they want to do is turn them off by being opaque and restrictive.

Brands need to embrace chaos but shouldn’t pretend to control it. Those that pretend are not winning, and will eventually be turned off by fans. Brands can prevent this by incorporating themselves earlier in the production process and trust the content makers. 

Producers of online video content need to stop worrying about ad sales, embrace their colleagues, and not let some mythical version of journalism get in the way in making good video content. Story and facts and editorial judgment still rule the day and brands should always be thinking of how to deliver content that is delivering good ads.  

Put simply, they need to stop pretending that all the walls are the same. Everyone wins with authenticity.

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