I was taken by an article in a current edition of Australia’s AdNews in Brightcove’s chief marketing officer Jeff Whatcott took the opportunity of visit there to grumble about media and marketing companies that don’t plan their online video advertising efforts with any noticeable sign that there is an actual strategy at play.
If I proposed this problem as the topic for a term paper back in high school (if there had been such a thing as online video in existence at that point), I’m sure even my teachers would have politely suggested I picked a topic just a little too broad.
It’s true you can’t know what a brand is thinking when it plans its online video effort—you really don’t know their motives—but it’s pretty safe to say you can figure out if a video is working on any level by ticking off the possible motives, and determining if the advertising satisfied any of them. That’s a way to play the game at home, but back in the home office, you’d suppose someone is doing a better job.
Whatcott apparently senses that too. He told AdNews, “The big thing that I sometimes see that concerns me is that people are running in without a strategy. We see that certainly in the social media space. People just think they have to be there but have no other plans. And frankly, there is a lot of snake oil being sold.”
The thing is, it seems to advertisers that are new to the online video space that success is just a crap shoot, not a process of planning and strategy.
Doing the pitch for Brightcove, Whatcott continues, “We have a new analytics platform that has engagement scores where you can see what your content is normally doing and whether it is above or below the line. Over time we want to do industry benchmarking. Sometimes people do a 10-minute video and the first 10 seconds will be a title slide. They think they are doing a movie. It’s ridiculous. You need something in the first five seconds to capture attention.”
Woody Allen got a laugh explaining the progression of the development of a Hollywood movie script: “At the moment it's just a Notion, but with a bit of backing I think I could turn it into Concept, and then an Idea.” Maybe that’s closer to the scary truth about how creative projects get green-lit, but that was supposed to be a joke.
Yet, despite the hordes of digital ad solutions companies out there that can analyze ads before, during and after their run, it’s still not the kind of science that is absolutely predictive. Weird stuff happens, which may be the reason online video seems so random. Television never had commercials that went “viral” –it wasn’t the term or the objective. Online video does have those almost mystical viral sensations. The makers of online videos can feel an ad "working," even when they don’t quite know what it’s actually working at doing. They need a better Idea.