Commentary

Can You Be Iconic in Six Seconds? Or 15?

So if we all accept that a picture is worth 1,000 words, exactly what is a video worth?  In the past, videos, often posing as 30-second or minute-long TV spots, were the building blocks of brands.  The iconic spots and brands of my youth were formed on the backs of some of the most memorable TV spots ever – Coca-Cola’s “Thanks Mean Joe”, Nike’s “Bo Knows” and “It’s gotta be the shoes”.  Not only did these spots help define the brand personality, attitude and the times, they have stood the test of time and are referenced annually in “Best of” lists.

Today, brands are quickly adopting new forms of video including Instagram and Vine.  The upside of these channels is that they have democratized video production and distribution--no longer do you have to have a Coke or Nike production and media budget to create and distribute video. 

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The downside is that the iconic, memorable campaigns that create, build and sustain category-leading brands are now becoming a thing of the past.

I understand this phenomenon--as a marketer I recognize the need to meet your audience where they live and play.  And today, much of our audience lives in 140 character posts with 6-second and 15-second attention spans. 

 But as we migrate more of our content and communications to posts and updates with which the audience proactively engages, how do we develop the consistency of message and the repetition required to adequately build and define a brand?  Are we leaving behind what’s always worked for the unproven but tantalizing “glory” of the next big thing?

During dinner a few nights ago, with “The Essential Michael Jackson” playing as a soundtrack, a close friend recounted how she had recorded, watched repeatedly and mastered every dance step, spin, hop, and hair flick from Michael Jackson’s 1988 Grammy Award performance.  That is until her sister recorded “Square Pegs” over the Grammys. (You remember that CBS sitcom, right?  Well, unfortunately so does she.) 

That moment—maybe 10 minutes--of quintessential Michael Jackson created a lasting and permanent memory and bond for her.  Perhaps miraculously, it even made the Grammys relevant during our dinner conversation years later.

But where will we find those brand and content connections today?  Brands big (Burberry, Nike, Disney) and small (Dogfish Head Beer) are producing some great content via Instagram Video and Vine.  According to Simply Measured’s June report, 14 of the Interbrand Top 100 are using Instagram Video and 7 are using Vine, and that is on top of the 67 brands that already had Instagram accounts. 

But as we are inundated with more pictures (1/3 of all pixel real estate on the Web is image content) and now videos, including both long and short form, where will the brand connections be made?  Does the coolest brand’s Facebook page or Twitter feed or Instagram video win?  Despite the entertainment value, I am not sure that any of these will have the staying power of the old fashioned 30-second spot. 

 There is both an information overload and a reach problem with the short, short form video now.  Only a brand’s followers will potentially see much of this content. And these same people are being inundated with so many more messages at the same time.  Despite the entertainment value of social channels and the content they promote, it’s hard to imagine any of these have the delivery (let alone consistent delivery) or the more deeply vested and lasting emotional connection of a 30-second spot.  How many six-second or 15-second online videos have the lasting power of that Mean Joe Greene spot?  The brief moments do not make lasting memories.   

I’m not new channels and mediums created by the Web and mobile.  To the contrary, after that dinner, I pulled up this stellar Grantland column about Michael Jackson’s 1988 Grammy performance.  Not only were we able to enjoy 10 minutes of MJ wizardry through the "The Way You Make Me Feel"/"Man in the Mirror"performance, but also the fantastic color commentary, something we never would have been able to do in the 80s.  Now if we can just create a forum and some brand content that will be impactful today and memorable tomorrow, we may just might find that an online video is worth more than 1,000 words.  Right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  That’s why brands should test these new vehicles but realize they won’t deliver like the tried and true—at least not yet.
 

Guest blogger David Toner is vice president for marketing at Photobucket, one of the world's largest photo hosting and sharing sites. MediaPost Online Video Daily blogger P.J. Bednarski is on vacation until Aug 7.

1 comment about "Can You Be Iconic in Six Seconds? Or 15?".
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  1. Brian Silvernail from SEO MultiMedia Creations, August 1, 2013 at 6:37 p.m.

    This is why I was so relieved when Vine AND Instagram came out with their new APPS and gave it their best shot and all they had was what they have proposed, and neither is ANYTHING like my Patent Pending Multiple Video Uploader , SEO optimizer, Lead Capture and Analytical reporting mechanism.

    What our APP does for a Video Camera APP,for properties like real estate, vehicles, personal and even intellectual property, there is literally no comparison.

    In essence those APPS are based upon a "Pre-Internet" paradigm of Video & TV, where the mindset of producers and advertisers is as follows. 1) Cost to produce video is enormous for TV 2) Cost of broadcasting is enormous for TV 3) TV ads MUST be short (15 seconds, 30 seconds or 60 seconds) because of the costs! 4) TV ads must be short because if we don't make them short and right to the sales pitch, people will loose interest and tune out or change the channel right?............

    This is my theory on the NEW ONLINE VIDEO PARADIGM SHIFT, that if I'm right, and my patent holds, could Lord willing literally propel me and my APP into being the Steve Jobs and Apple of Video Automation APPS.......here it is, you ready...............1) Longer is better...............why? 2) because online Video advertising production costs is very inexpensive, at least when using my new automated apps because you can make effective video presentations in 10-20% of the time it used to take to do so with my applications 3) because online video broadcast costs is nearly free across the board by sharing on Social Media Sites, Craigslist and Online Listing services that you can subscribe to for a few dollars a month for unlimited sharing of video broadcasts 4) If people click out of the video because they are bored and they think it is too long, that's because they really aren't interested in what we are selling so we need to vet them out of the equation as prospective purchasers to begin with rather than trying to trick them or sell them into buying something they really don't want with our quick pitches. 5) If you post say 10 minutes of multiple videos about a property as opposed to a 60 second ad, the people that really find the first video interesting, will continue to watch the next one and the next one and the next one, maybe not all the first time they visit, but they will come back and back and back and not only watch every second, but many of the individual videos of say 30 - 60 seconds they will come back and watch 20, 30, 50 times, and show it to others etc!!!!

    In essence we use the long videos TO VET OUT THOSE PEOPLE WHO AREN'T REALLY INTERESTED AND IDENTIFY TRULY INTERESTED BUYERS BASED UPON THE VOLUME OF VIDEOS THEY WATCH, AND USE THE VIEWING OF THESE VIDEOS AS "BAIT" TO GIVE INCENTIVE TO THOSE BUYERS TO BECOME A REAL LEAD AND PROVIDE THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION IF THEY WANT TO SEE MORE THAN THE FIRST FEW VIDEOS THAT WE HOPE PERK THEIR INTEREST DESPITE NOT BEING A 30 SECOND HIGH PRODUCTION COST VIDEO!

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