Commentary

Video Quality Vs. Quantity: A Marketer's Dilemma

Here’s the dilemma: How can marketers reconcile the need for high-quality brand videos with the ever-increasing need for a large quantity of videos required to meet their communication needs? 

Five to ten years ago a marketer needed video for TV, and maybe another video or two to support the sales organization at trade shows but that was it.  Fast-forward to today and this is no longer the case; in addition to TV video needs, online video has become increasingly critical to success as a key part of corporate Web pages, helping with search indexing improvements and providing the type of visual impact that customers demand.

However, those are just the basics.  Beyond their corporate web presence, virtually every brand has a Facebook page -- and video helps with page ranking there as well.   Additionally, almost every brand has a mix of official and unofficial presence on YouTube, sometimes company-generated and sometimes posted by consumers or amateur videographers.

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Five years ago, a broadcast-quality video on average would cost a marketer $350,000+ to produce.  As a result many brands tried to get the job done by spending less -- but quality began to suffer and the emerging quality vs. quantity dilemma continued.   From a purely economic standpoint, marketers cannot support today’s video needs at yesterday’s inflated video production prices.

So what’s the solution? Three come to mind:

1.     Selectively reestablish in-house production companies. In the 1990s, many large corporations completely closed down their in-house video production facilities to save general and administrative expenses.  All video production functions were then outsourced via independent producers or through their advertising agencies of record.  With traditional production costs surging at the same time that demand for video is accelerating, perhaps it’s time for brands to bring back these internal resources to manage a large portion of their video needs.  While this inflates near-term G&A costs significantly, it could more than pay for itself over time.

2.     Agency model redesign. Does anyone not feel that the traditional agency model is a bit broken when addressing this surge in demand for video? An innovative redesign option might include the creation of “A” and “B” creative teams within an agency. The “A” team does the prime-time work, and the “B” team, comprised of more junior creatives and a limited support staff, is in charge of social media and Web page work.  Regardless of whether this approach is taken, or something else more innovative, the fact remains that the current model cannot economically sustain itself when faced with the ever-increasing need for more video.

3.     Crowdsourcing. I have personally seen a dramatic rise in this approach.  More brands and agencies are crowdsourcing video to obtain a broad variety of quality videos to be deployed throughout their marketing channels.  Because of its ability to provide fresh and varied video content at an affordable price, crowdsourcing is something that many agencies and brands are now adding to their arsenals.  

The dilemma of producing high-quality and creative video for brand use at a dramatically expanded level of quantity is going to continue, so something has to change. Marketers are simply not interested or able to spend $300,000+ on a single commercial spot and still meet their video needs when considering the required quantity and quality.  Whatever the case, those marketers who can find or devise the most creative solutions will be the ones who will win for their brands in the coming years.

5 comments about "Video Quality Vs. Quantity: A Marketer's Dilemma".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., October 18, 2012 at 12:26 p.m.

    I just love folks who examine a problem in detail and then propose a solution that their company offers. Here are the problems with "crowdsourcing" video production: 1) You're gonna have to look at a lot of crap. 2) If you do get a winner and decide you want to have another similar video made, how are you going to get that particular person. 3) No consistancy of image, content or style. Here's an idea: look in your local marketplace for video production houses / freelancers who have transitioned from gracefully from TV to online and understand the benefits and limitations of each. Concept?

  2. Neil Perry from The Institutes, October 18, 2012 at 4 p.m.

    Hi Jonathan, Thanks for reading and for your comment. Purpose of the article is not to promote a single solution, but to get people thinking of varied ways to potentially address a real dilemma affecting the broader video industry. For your knowledge as it pertains to crowdsourcing, 1) You're not "gonna have to look at a lot of crap"...most crowdsourcing companies provide services to help brands and agencies vet submissions down to a few quality choices; 2) If a brand likes a specific video, it can work directly with that videographer again....and under "invite assignments" they can work with specific videographers/skill sets right off the bat; 3) Videographers have access to a brand's creative assets and guidelines to ensure there is consistency in image, content, and style...all of which is further reinforced by working directly with brand/agency on final product. Your idea of looking in local marketplace for talent is a good one, too. Thanks again, -Neil

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, October 18, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.

    I have this fundamental problem with crowd sourcing... Namely that it's essentially throwing up our arms eschewing our responsibility for knowing what a client needs. So maybe it's fine if all you're doing is creating yet more hours of video wallpaper that include the client brand (ala the amateur sourced ads we've seen to date). But when a client really needs to rely in the video work to do more - like drive product out the retail door at high velocity, crowd sourcing is the sure bet for failure.

  4. Neil Perry from The Institutes, October 19, 2012 at 9:12 a.m.

    Hi Doug, appreciate your reading and commenting: The intent was not to make this all about crowdsourcing, but you bring up some points worth addressing. Just in the past year or two, crowdsourcing has undergone a significant and promising change to where brands are pulling together the best assets of video creators AND the more "traditional" agencies and other client-service organizations who have deep expertise in key marketing strategies and techniques. So it's not about eschewing responsibility, it's adding a layer of creativity to support the deeper strategy and sales efforts that are so important to a brand. You're right to say that blindly developing high quantities of video without an eye toward broader strategy and bottom-line impact for a client is a recipe for failure, regardless of the video production technique. There should always be a critical focus on client needs, and important roles for the brands and agencies in ensuring that video created (regardless of technique) stays true to the bigger picture business objectives. Thanks for again for reading, -Neil

  5. Patrick Fitzgerald from Straight Face Productions, October 19, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.

    I agree with Neil, crowd sourcing has evolved; it has developed into a new way to work for creative thinkers and producers. The pressure and intensity of the traditional agency environment does not lend itself to the creative process. Leveraging crowd sourcing themselves, creatives can choose what they work on and when they work. Many use assignments via crowd sourcing to support their artistic efforts. Much of the work is being done by small agencies and production houses who use crowd sourcing to get their work in front of global brands, and allow them to work from wherever THEY choose. Frankly, I "look at a lot of crap" that gets sold as TV and online campaigns by effective Account people at major agencies.
    Crowd sourcing leverages technology and social platforms to provide a new way to work for a generation of commercial filmmakers and offers brands access to creative choices and resources that scale efficiently. The only thing I question is the title of the article; IMHO, the choice between quality and quantity is not necessary.

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