Call me a traditionalist but, though video has become integral to the modern customer experience, I still value the power of content in written form. Digital video content alone can relay a powerful message. But in my view, video should coexist with written content to truly drive that message home.
That said, not everyone agrees. Fox Sports recently issued a memo announcing the company’s shift away from textual website content to focus exclusively on video — not a single written word. Further, according to HubSpot, 51.9% of global marketing professionals name video as generating the best ROI of all content types. But I’m not convinced video-only is the right approach for capturing today’s mobile-first, omnichannel, on-the-go consumers. Video and text have existed in harmony for a long time. So why the sudden friction?
In terms of return on digital content investment, video advertising has become a very lucrative business. When a brand shares a video, the platform will likely serve an in-stream ad before or mid-roll of the content. The opportunity to profit from video advertising comes so easily, therefore, that companies may be satisfied to make video a consumer’s only form of interaction with their brand.
While this strategy may seem straightforward, the ad value is contingent on audience size. Which brings me to my next question: Do audiences buy into a video-only presence?
All Video, All the Time Lacks Sustainability
Considering the holistic nature of our increasingly connected and data-driven world, content consumption is endless. But we’re not always in the most video-friendly environments. The subway, doctor’s waiting room, and boardroom all have their part to play in this influx of information, but video requires two things to be successful: eyes and ears. Without an audience’s full attention and in the mobile lifestyle we lead today, video content has difficulty thriving.
Shifting to video with no supplementary content could greatly reduce viewership. Consumers respond well to visual and interactive experiences but, more importantly, they call the shots. With greater control of the brand experience than ever before, consumers expect to be given the choice of reading content, watching it, or both.
Video and the Written Word: Stronger Together
A multifaceted approach to the marketing mix is imperative in providing diverse audiences with meaningful experiences. These audiences aren’t only diverse, they’re demanding. So, beyond the immediate results of monetizing video, brands must keep consumer behaviors top of mind. Does your audience prefer visual over written content? Is video a better use of their limited time? Does your industry have accessibility issues to consider? Does your customer’s day-to-day give them opportunities to listen to audio at their convenience?
Every few years, the digital marketplace prioritizes another ground-breaking medium with which to meet ever-changing customer expectations. Revenue models are shifting as marketers look for the best ways to attract and retain audiences while delivering the best content possible — and video is certainly up there. However, if brands address only one content format, they stand to miss out on revenue through others. To be most cohesive, a content strategy should integrate video as part of the brand’s story.
Look at the success of Facebook or BuzzFeed video content, for example. The majority of content pieces include subtitles or the balance of visual and written assets to appeal to the viewers that do not have the ability, time or space to listen to the video. While this is not the only solution, it goes to show that the written word should not be forgotten.
How to Find Balance in Your Content Strategy
At the end of one article describing Fox Sport’s move to video-only content, a poll asks readers,“How do you prefer consuming online information about sports?” Of the three choices — video, written, or both — written content held the overwhelming majority at 81.5%.
Bottom line: A successful content machine needs to address every individual within its audience base, just as a business must address all of its customers. Video is and will continue to be an effective platform to share a brand’s message, but by investing too much into the latest digital trends, marketers invest in a siloed approach that alienates certain preferences. Trends fade, but mainstays like high-quality written content stand the test of time.
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"Consumers respond well to visual and interactive experiences but, more importantly, they call the shots"
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