It seems that every sporting goods company, sports property or activating brand has become a broadcaster. Much to the chagrin of the bean counters, digital video has gained in importance as a compliment to the traditional media mix rather than as a disruptive substitute. In other words, to shift dollars significantly out of one medium to feed the jones for video is to leave your most engaged target, wanting for more.
As our research has borne out, fans’ passion for vertical content has enabled sports marketing video to fuel an insatiable appetite for additional content among fans rather than crashed head first into an immovable wall of content overload. Create something compelling and timely and your video can gain traction, and, interestingly, this observation is not overtly skewed to a younger demographic.
Of course, this begs the literally million-dollar question surrounding what truly is compelling. It’s a fascinating and nuanced question, but one that a well-regarded sports media brand challenged us to answer through a rigorous but eye-opening study that our firm recently completed. To get at such an answer begged the realization that such answers may vary across target consumer segments, the particular sports category and the objective of the video.
The specifics of this engagement were focused enough to allow us to hone in on videos promoting consumer purchases of a specific sporting goods category, which allowed us to narrow down the myriad production element variables to a place where a meaningful research experiment could be devised, yet it also afforded us the luxury to address the breadth of target consumer segments. So, how did we do it?
It has always been a goal of mine to try to demystify the “geek speak” so inherent in marketing research. So indulge me while I briefly place the propeller firmly on my cap and introduce you to the term “multi-variate testing.” That, in essence, is how we attacked the video optimization dilemma. P
utting it into more understandable language, recognize that the discipline of statistics and marketing research allow us to isolate a set of unique elements of a product or service — the independent variables — and determine their impact on a result, the dependent variable. In the case of determining the optimal recipe for a compelling sports marketing digital video, that dependent variable was how much a consumer enjoyed that video, whereas the independent variables were a comprehensive list of production elements and variations in those elements. The rigorous science of the experiment involved defining and isolating a reasonable list of these production elements, and producing a series of test stimuli, each of which maintained all but one element as constant across each test iteration.
As a simplistic example, let’s assume that you are attempting to market the ultimate chocolate bar and you begin by attempting to create the “right packaging.” In these types of experiments, you’ll offer target consumers multiple variations of the package with all else being equal. Everything about the chocolate bar, from its name to its recipe to all of the graphical elements on the wrapper are identical, with the exception being the color of the wrapper.
After completing a statistically robust number of tests across each possible color, you’ll have enough of a sample size to determine the relative impact of each color wrapper. Of course, wrapper color is just one element of the potential offering. Perhaps the variation across colors is negligible. In fact, color of the wrapper may overall be a very low determinant of customer satisfaction. That’s where the “multi” in “multi-variate” comes in. Using again the same example, we might next alter other graphical elements of the package or of the chocolate bar recipe itself. The researcher goes through multiple iterations across each element, and then statistically “smashes and bashes” these to see what moves the needle and what doesn’t. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
So, how does all of this relate to sports videos? In this instance, the described experimental approach helped us to uncover a true understanding of what mattered and what didn’t. We saw true impact driven by selection of the “right” presenter, the “right” source branding of the video and proper length. The client derived a recipe for compelling digital videos and key insights into how to optimize the deployment of this key sports marketing mix tool.