Commentary

Maximizing Online Campaigns With Video

Interactive marketers are continually challenged to create engaging marketing campaigns that generate return on investment while maintaining consistency with offline efforts.  With few notable exceptions these online efforts have yet to fully embrace video as a vehicle to achieve these goals.  But, as the audience demand for online video continues to grow, it presents the best opportunity to engage with audiences and capitalize on the Web's direct-response capability. 

The Case for Online Video

In October alone, more than 77% of Internet users watched 13.5 billion videos online.  This represents a dramatic shift in how consumers are engaging with content online.  The continued proliferation of broadband Internet access and the maturing of the online video market will continue to drive these numbers higher. 

With this massive demand one would think that marketers would be quick to embrace this growing trend.  But, most analysts concur, the video opportunity has yet to be fully realized.  However, with the rise of new, affordable production methods, big brands are beginning to leverage the power of online video.

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What's Held Video Back?

Hindered by limited budgets, tight timelines and complicated rights agreements, those responsible for interactive marketing campaigns have avoided video.  These factors combined to make video an undertaking that wasn't worth the effort to include it in online campaigns. Additionally, interactive folks inherently understood the conflict between broadcast advertising and the online experience: no one wants to watch repurposed ads on the internet

 

Different Medium, Different Message

The Internet and television deliver two completely different types of user experiences, so it makes sense that marketers continue to search for a video implementation that engages viewers and drives action.  Television is a "lean back" medium where people engage when something of interest appears and disengage when they lose interest. Conversely, the Internet is a "lean forward" medium where people are actively seeking out information and don't waste time on irrelevant items.  This requires marketers to deliver information in a way that engages and meets users' needs, all on their terms. To thrive in this new environment, marketers must create video that:

 

  • Is original and authentic
  • Entertains and engages
  • Meets audience needs
  • Provides a path to learn more and share the experience

 

The Democratization of Video Production

To meet these needs, interactive marketers have turned to a new format of video production.  This new revolution in video production is removing traditional barriers that stood in the way of mass video use in online campaigns.  Driven by the dramatic decrease in the cost of filmmaking equipment, professional filmmakers around the world now have the equipment, technical and creative ability to produce high-quality video made for the Web. 

These filmmakers bring an authentic, realistic video style that meets the transparent, information needs of the skeptical online audience. And by reducing the reliance on sets, actors and large production crews, they can create high-quality video quickly and at a cost of $1,000 to $5,000, a fraction of the cost of traditional production.  Madison Avenue's expensive budgets are no longer a prerequisite to create engaging, relevant content. 

Benefits of this New Production Model

Branding and Direct Response - Online video combines the emotional branding aspects of television and the direct-response attributes of the Web.  A recent Kelsey Group study found 55% of people who view a video visit the company's Web site; 30% visit a physical store; and 24% make a purchase as a result of watching.

Affordability Doesn't Impact Quality - This new production model doesn't mean compromising brand standards.  High production values free marketers from the worry of poor-quality content that compromises the brand. Marketers can provide overall direction and creative input while these production network managers handle details like releases and quality control. 

Testing and Targeting - Affordable production costs allow for testing video content and targeting different audiences.  Marketers aren't forced to target the biggest pool of eyeballs with generic brand messages.  Instead, they can highlight multiple brand attributes that resonate with smaller niche audiences found online. 

Putting It All Together

This new production model for Web video presents opportunities to incorporate video in to online campaigns in ways that simply were not feasible before.  Marketers can leverage the synergy of rising demand, and video's positive attributes to maximize the effectiveness of their online campaigns. 

14 comments about "Maximizing Online Campaigns With Video ".
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  1. Michael Smolens from dotsub, January 13, 2009 at 3:44 p.m.

    the issue of language still needs to be addressed. Only 30% of internet users today speak English, and in 3 years it will only be 15%. There is never a discussion about how to reach all those consumers, viewers with the same content in other languages.

  2. Tyler Lecompte from MeHype.com, January 13, 2009 at 3:58 p.m.

    David,

    Excellent, even Inspirational, piece about Online Video Marketing for 2009! Finally, someone takes the time to point out the drastic changes that have occurred in video production thanks to pricing improvements and maturing of the market. It is truly no longer just 18-year olds taking in these videos, but adults, parents and grandparents "leaning forward" to get information and be entertained simultaneously.

    Best part was the bullet points about what marketers need to do when creating video this year. Videos MUST be: original and authentic, entertaining and engaging, meet the needs of the audience, and provide a path for action and sharing.

    Thanks for sharing this. I am emailing it to anyone/everyone I have called upon in the last 6 months for my company (www.mehype.com) trying to capitalize on the coming flood of branded marketing videos online. Keep em coming!

  3. Andy Bobrow from BioMedia, Inc., January 13, 2009 at 5:20 p.m.

    Thank you for your excelent piece about using video in interactive marketing. As you wrote, the video must be engaging, entertaining, audience-friendly, and meet the goals of the audience as well as the sponsor. In other words, the goal of video on the web is the same as the goal of video vie other media.

    I'm not a marketer; I'm a producer, so perhaps I view this subject from a slightly different angle. For the video to do its job, it needs to be original and creative, for sure. New low-cost technologies are great, but they don't guarantee authenticity or creativity, people do. Looking for the lowest price does not necessarily result in the best ROI.

    Of course I would like to see more branded video, and more interactive video, on the web. I would also like to see more GOOD video on the web.

  4. Brian Stemmler from Stemmler Productions, January 13, 2009 at 6:03 p.m.

    Great article. Yes thankfully everyone is moving away from thinking UGC and viral video is the only solution in online video! Even though the screen size is small it still makes an amazing amount of difference to have a pro shoot it. Like the article says the most important elements that make online video work is the branded element, direct response and flexibility to change content quickly based on viewer response. A big factor that wasn't talked about but which fit's in with the "lean forward" imagery of online is that videos need to be short and sweet. Whatever message you want to get across in your segments they have to be delivered in 3 minutes or less....in my mind 1.5 minutes is perfect...Having pros shoot and edit these segments will give you so much bang for your buck (or in terms of online budgets so far, pennies)

  5. Paul Otis from MOB Media, January 13, 2009 at 8:53 p.m.

    Great article, although I think we all (based on some comments from above) would be interested to know how you arrived at your production figures. We find it hard to believe you can get quality with those numbers. Most clients demand a certain level of professionalism - despite what they think they should pay. That means paid talent, maybe a make-up artist (don't fool yourself, there's a difference!). Can also mean on-location shooting, a good set of ARRI lights with maybe a few Kenoflos, track and a dolly, etc. That adds up even with one guy and an HD camera. Don't get me wrong, we can produce videos all day long for clients for less than $10K. But that's for those who are producing a campaign of videos with real marketing strategy behind them. We're not talking about a one-off production project.

    In sum, when you take into consideration the strategy behind the campaign, the talent, lighting and the client demands for “quality Production” you’re looking easily at $7000 minimum and more likely up to $11,000. Again, not that bad if there’s multiple videos and a true purpose to create them.

    Good luck to all!

  6. Tyler Willis from Involver, January 14, 2009 at 12:59 a.m.

    @Dave Pritchard, check out TurnHere (David's company) or one of our partners, Silverdock (www.silverdock.com), we've worked with them happily in the past and clients have paid in the $1-5k range (of course, I have no idea what your project is, ymmv).

    David Rich, Great article. Video marketing is truly coming of age, and it's very exciting to watch. Our company distributes marketing videos within social networks and creates, on behalf of brands, communities out of the people who resonate with the content. We've seen the amount of people interested in marketing videos has exploded, I'm sure you've seen the same thing.

  7. Doug Broomfield from IDM, January 14, 2009 at 2:40 a.m.

    Great article indeed David. I would agree with many of the other posters however that it is tough to produce a good quality professional video for the $1k - $5k range. Though the final distribution channel is the internet, all the other production elements remain the same, and the cost for those are not going down. HD cameras are cheaper, yes, and edit systems can do so much more today than they could 5 and 10 years ago, and for a lot less money. But when you include all the other critical elements to producing a quality product - writing, producing, directing, talent, studio and location expenses, and the significant time it takes to edit a good piece (regardless of the equipment), it still can cost a pretty penny.

    The one thing that might drive the costs down a bit is that the videos do indeed need to remain short, and in the 1 - 3 minute range that can indeed help save some dollars versus the sometimes longer videos that one might produce for a client for other distribution channels.

    Costs aside, one thing that is paramount, and will always be, is good storytelling. And in 1 - 3 minutes you better focus more energies on a good story than cool effects or other things you think might grab the attention of your viewer. "Original and Authentic" as you said. Spend your money on a good script, a story told well, and you will increase your odds in keeping your viewer engaged.

    And think about making those videos a "lean forward" interactive experience buy making them clickable. As I heard it said as recently as this afternoon, video should not be a "sit and stare" experience. With clickable objects and images you can finally make the experience as engaging as the rest of the internet. A few of us are playing in those waters and I gotta tell you the opportunities are pretty exciting.

    Thanks

    Doug Broomfield
    veeple.com

  8. Oded Napchi from hiro media, January 14, 2009 at 4:20 a.m.

    Sorry for being the party pooper but this is realy anarchronistic and too tech centric view:
    First the discussion of leaning forward or backward is not relevant. We are not at a gadget related world – the device doesn’t dictates my psychological state. When I am actively zapping in tv I lean forward (although it is TV), when I watch “24” with my wife on laptop I lean backward (although it is a computer). Hence ads nature of backward/ forward is not related to the device (or technology) but to the content. In that manner traditional 30 second ads are perfect to long form professional content in the internet. As I do not think there is a real future for advertisement for “cats on skateboards” (2% in 2012 according to “diffusion group”), let’s leave the nature of its ad creative aside.
    The second issue is the cost. While the filming costs itself are low, the creative costs are high as ever. You may think you can do produce an ad for $5K, but this will be only if you will not use a professional team (or any team for that matter). Try to calculate the cost of script writer, director, cameraman, soundman, editor etc. and you will see that easily you get into the 50K zone and much more.
    So, please don’t think tech centric think marketing or even better humanly centric and you will see that people are people an ads are ads….

  9. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, January 14, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.

    In my experience as a TurnHere filmmaker, this article (and TH as well) is addressing the "long tail" of clients interested in adding video to their marketing mix. As commenters have noted - scripts, makeup, lights, HD cameras all have their place in video production. The question is: where? The answer is doing traditional video/TV production for the fraction of companies that need/want that style of production.

    What David writes about is the 80/20 rule in action. For 80+% of the clients that are out there, the traditional infrastructure that the commenters bring up is too much and way TOO expensive. The vast majority of SMBs simply will look elsewhere or find something else.

    If you want to reach the fat part of the curve (all those SMBs), you have to adjust expectations, decrease the scale and costs, and recognize that there is such a thing as "good enough". This is also another critical piece of the 80/20 rule, btw. For the largest group of clients interested in video this means byebye makeup, lights, scriptwriting, grips, gaffers etc. Please note that for the large-budget, traditional video project all of the above remains in the mix.

    Small budget, high quality video production can be done. I have done it numerous times as a TH filmmaker. The output is not the same and it may not be used in the same way as traditional video has been.

    To me, what is changing is that the democratization of video is allowing the emergence of a new type of customer who can suddenly afford video production in a style much like what TH provides. This is not so much the extinction of the traditional video production workflow, but the emergence of a whole new marketplace with different expectations and a different workflow relative to what most in the video industry are used to. The high end is not going away, the small to medium portion of the market is starting to arrive!
    Jeff Bach
    Quietwater Films

  10. Morgan Brown, January 14, 2009 at 2:27 p.m.

    Wow, great comments. I'm Morgan, the director of marketing for TurnHere and I just wanted to address some of the points that were raised:

    - production costs, as Jeff Bach said in his comment it comes down to creating video that fits the need of the online audience. We feel (and our research has shown) that authentic, quality content that isn't over-produced is the most successful form of video advertising on the web. In fact, the over-produced, TV ad formats are the ones often rejected by viewers. By using a documentary-style approach (i.e. no actors, scripts, sets, crews, travel costs, etc.) and using a local, professional filmmaker you strip out all the overhead for production of the video and still end up with high-quality. We regularly make video in that price range for some of the biggest brands in the world. Check out our site for samples/brands, etc.

    - Online video vs. online video advertising. The article meant to address the use of online video in online advertising campaigns. Sure traditional ads may work in long-format video such as Hulu TV programs, etc. But most research says that pre-roll segments and interstitial ad formats are seen as a nuisance. When you are in information gathering mode you are in a lean-forward mode. The lean back experience is a TV-based experience. You're settled in and that's great, you deal with an ad because it's the path of least resistance. Same with long-format video online. This was talking more about incorporating video in to online advertising and marketing campaigns. Sorry if we blew that distinction.

    - Richard's point about direct response is a key one. Video is much more than a branding play on the web. Combine the emotional response of video with the direct response components of the web and you get magic. If your video is not creating a clear action path and call to action that video is only doing half of what it could be doing. It's critical that you have quality, relevant, engaging content and a clear action path if you want to generate measurable ROI out of your video production.

  11. Lorraine Grula from Video Production Tips, January 14, 2009 at 3:08 p.m.

    Excellent article and discussion.

    I am a life long video producer and may be able to provide some advice so folks can produce the video they want without spending too much.

    The costs of professionally produced video vary tremendously depending on what kind of professional you hire. Go to the local high-dollar music video production house and expect to pay 20 times what you would if you hired the local wedding videographer. Of course there is a quality difference, but a good local wedding video crew should be able to do an excellent job in most basic production situations.

    Local TV news crews or TV/Film college students can also provide low-budget alternatives. Try local government channel employees too.

    I often advise people to be their own executive producer and guide the process using people with expertise in individual areas, such as shooting or editing. Being executive producer is a bit like being your own contractor when building a house. You do not have to know how to plumb a toilet but you know where you want it to go! And if you hire a big-budget company to do all the work for you, the executive producer is going to eat a huge part of the budget and be the person who serves as the project manager and customer liaison.

    Obtaining quality video production for online promotion is complex enough to make it practical to hire someone with experience but you also don't need to compete with huge budget videos for a technical achievement Oscar.

    My website has hundreds of free articles and video tutorials on simple video production. If you want more information on how to be your own executive producer, search for articles on outsourcing. Having a consultant to help guide YOU also can be helpful.

    I am getting ready to launch a site that will provide people with pre-made marketing videos and video building blocks to spice up a simple talking head you video tape of yourself. I am hoping that will help people cuts costs as well. I am seeing other sites like that come online too, so I will not be the first.

    Online video is such a great opportunity. People need to be able to take advantage of it even if they do not have deep pockets or the knowledge necessary to make it themselves. Learning everything you need to know to produce a video from scratch yourself could take months. Who has that much time?

    Lorraine Gurla
    www.VideoProductionTips
    www.VideoMarketingExpress

  12. Matt Kaplan from VisibleGains, January 14, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

    Good thoughts. Our recent Online Marketing Study shows there's a growing interest in interactive (lean forward) video and leveraging online video throughout the customer lifecycle. You can download the report here:

    http://www.permissiontv.com/about/blog/30/2008-12-17-the_results_are_in_digital_marketing_survey

    Matt Kaplan
    Chief Strategy Officer, PermissionTV

  13. Morgan Brown, January 14, 2009 at 6:43 p.m.

    I highly encourage people to read Matt and PermissionTV's report about where this industry is headed. It's fantastic insight.

  14. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, January 14, 2009 at 8:24 p.m.

    @ David

    And doctors want you using only brand name prescriptions drugs too. Generics are cheap and nasty right? I'll stop just short of calling what you write "FUD". Let's say almost FUD, maybe "fuddish". :)

    While I respect production values and lovingly hover over my work as much as the next guy, the fact is that the days of the five person crew, the caterer, and the black t-neck creative guy trying to look like Steve Jobs are starting to change. A two person crew, even a one person crew can get the job done, easily achieving the same work as the big crew.

    Yes you do get what you pay for. The 21 year old with a new camera that has never shot or edited before will deliver a product in line with their experience. But the 43 year old with lots of experience, an awareness of production values, and a trusted set of freelancers will deliver a good product every bit as capable of pleasing the client as the five person crew. Do check the demo reel, do ask for a referral, and do your own vetting. There is a risk. But there is also some change brewing in the video production world.

    There is room for everyone in this gig. Some clients and some shoots will warrant and require the large budget, the large crew, and large time and effort. Other clients and shoots simply will require far less and be happy just as happy with the outcome.
    good luck to us all!
    Jeff

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