Online video is growing at a bewildering rate, with new platforms emerging all the time. Here, Clare Hill, Managing Director of the CMA, highlights how brands and agencies can use video to engage with customers.
Hello, and welcome to the third CMA report. After in-depth examinations of the use of data and social media in content marketing, we now turn our attention to video.
You hardly need me to tell you that in the past five years there has been an explosion of online video. Cisco even predicts that within three years 90% of the world’s online traffic will be video-based.
Major media players have responded to our apparently insatiable demand for video. So, for example, The Huffington Post claims that 50% of its output will be video-based this year, while Buzzfeed received a very significant cash boost of $200 million from NBC Universal to invest in video studios.
There has also been an explosion of branded video content and today there are very few high profile FMCG companies that do not generate bespoke video and share it on social media channels.
And online video has moved well beyond YouTube. Facebook video now boasts around eight billion views per day, not too far behind its Google-owned rival.
Then there is the bewildering array of newer video platforms for brands and agencies to consider. From the snippets of Vine and Instagram, through to live streaming platforms like the Twitter-owned Periscope, Facebook Live and YouTube Connect, there are many ways that brands can harness the power of video to reach their customers.
It is not surprising then that marketers, and CMA members in particular, see video very much as the content marketing medium of the future. In Spring 2016 we undertook a survey among our members and associates including brands, media owners & creative agencies to gauge how they were using video. A staggering 82% said that they believe that video will increase in importance in 2016, while just under 60% said they expected to be upping the investment in online video in the coming year.
One of the most exciting things about video from a content marketer’s perspective is just how flexible it is.
There are however many elements to making branded video a success. It is not just about the content creation and the platform. Brands have to know what they are creating video content for, and need to understand how to measure it. Up until recently brands have been rightly wary on how these issues were being addressed, but as our survey points out there is growing realisation that it is now possible to accurately assess a video’s ROI. Also companies are moving away from the old criteria of clicks and are looking at more engagement based metrics.
One of the most exciting things about video from a content marketer’s perspective is just how flexible it is. As you will read from the list of articles and case studies included in this report, video is being used in all manner of ways. There's a fascinating story from TCO London about how it harnessed high profile bloggers to help sell the benefits of a country - in this instance Canada - to travel-obsessed millennials. While at the opposite end of the scale is a tale from French agency Citizen Press about how it worked with the French Order of Physicians to update their communication strategy by using short-form video.
Along the way you can learn how brands are harnessing UGC in a fascinating article from Factory Media, while learning how video is now becoming an essential part of B2B marketing. Included are case studies from brands as diverse as Casio, Morrisons, Philips, British Airways and many others.
Different platforms, tagging and optimisation, the psychology of video consumption and the role of animation are all covered, with expert advice given by marketers who not only know their theory, but have the real world case studies to prove their points.
What is emerging is a clear understanding of how effective video can be for brands in a multiplicity of ways. At the moment the focus appears to be on brand storytelling (in our survey over 55% of respondents said that this was the main purpose of video) though this could change in the future as new technologies and platforms emerge.
Ultimately brands will have to continue to up their game in video. With an estimated two billion smartphones in use on the planet there are so many potential camera people primed and ready to shoot content and share it.
Fortunately content marketing agencies and brands, especially CMA members, have built up a reputation for producing high quality content. Videos produced by Mediacom Beyond Advertising for Shell and Seven for Jobsite scooped the Grand Prix at the CMA awards in the last two years (2015 and 2014 respectively). They, along with countless of the examples which you can read about, here underline how video can be a highly effective tool for brands.
No wonder the investment in video content continues to rocket.
Content campaigns are more effective when they make an emotional connection with the viewer. Mark Jefford, Head of Insight, Factory Media explains why action sports videos chime so much with viewers
Last year, we commissioned a piece of analysis from The Insights Distillery, exploring the engagement and sentiment consumers have with different types of video advertising. It’s no secret that both RedBull and GoPro are killing it on YouTube with their action sports content, but we wanted to know whether any type of brand – from makeup to cars – could benefit from injecting action sports into their creative.
This analysis uncovered a statistically significant uplift in positive sentiment among comments on YouTube, for ads containing action sports, outdoor and adventure, when compared to other campaigns. These types of sports and endeavours have long been used by brands to illustrate emotion – whether that be expression, belonging, confidence, determination, freedom, individuality, achievement or just plain fun - but we wanted to understand why consumers particularly love that type of content and advertising.
“Create something beautiful, inspiring and authentic that taps into an emotion, without being overly commercial and you create something that viewers - and influencers - are far more likely to engage with. Easier said than done, right?”
Our research also suggests that branded content campaigns are more effective when emotion features within the content. Much of Factory Media’s success, and our ability to amass huge reach figures, can be attributed to the way in which we look to produce content that triggers an emotional response.
Whether you’re a high tech brand, a luxury product, or a service - you need engagement, something to make you stand out in a competitive media environment; a reason to be talked about.
The following case study demonstrates how we apply the five principles outlined from our research, into all of the video content we produce, and how with the correct amount of dial-tweaking, we produce hugely successful campaigns for brands.
“The Indestructibles: the right audience, the right time, and with the right emotion.”
In 2015, Factory Media embarked on the largest, most complex media deal in its history. The Indestructibles model was unique, using Factory’s strengths in a wealth of key areas and producing content for all digital and TV platforms. And crucially, it raised an important question: how do you get TV, social and digital working in tandem, each part adding something to the mix, with minimal wastage and maximum reach and engagement?
We teamed up with UKTV and Casio G-Shock to create 12 epic TV moments, featuring world-class athletes, targeted to a mass but engaged audience and shared across multiple platforms. Dubbed the 'new Top Gear' by The Times and named as Huffington Post’s '1 of 12 things to watch this winter', “The Indestructibles” featured well-known action-sports-athletes-turned-media-personalities Tim and Gendle (Tim Warwood and Adam Gendle). Each week they were dropped into different locations around Britain, where they had to take inspiration from their surroundings and dream up epic stunts that seemed nigh-on impossible.
By wrapping a £1m production budget, and £1m of digital and social marketing around a great TV format, featuring some of the best Action Sports athletes in the game, and introducing a brand in the form of Casio G-Shock into the fold, with hundreds of native brand opportunities, an ‘everyone wins’ model was created.
Our research tells us that emotions, and in particular emotions associated with happiness, excitement, fun and freedom are the largest drivers of social media sharing.
With this in mind, we ensured that the initial digital and social “engage” phase (August/September) featured fun, shareable videos, with the express intention of building reach and awareness - both of the brand, and the forthcoming TV series.
October and early November was defined as the key consideration phase for Casio, and it was for this reason that this period received the biggest push of bitesize, engaging video content, and subsequently delivered the highest overall video views, engagement and social reach.
By this point, it was all about building towards transmission, so social videos and editorial activity began to focus more around introducing the talent and trailering clips from the show.
Throughout November and December, as the show began broadcasting weekly on Sunday evenings on Dave, the focus was on more direct response metrics (i.e. visiting the site, watching the show), and so the content pushed hour-delay repeats on Dave Ja Vu, and emphasised the ability to catch up on anything the viewer may have missed on UKTV’s VOD service.
With an outstanding 12 ‘Pick of the Day’ editorial features from leading newsbrands, and a staggering 7.3m views and 34m reach, the content created and the brand partnership with Casio G-Shock not only worked for action sports fans but also resonated with a much wider audience.
To summarise, preparing an effective online video strategy requires a deep understanding of the target audience; who they are, what they do, how they consume media and which emotions resonate best with them. Once you have good steer on those elements, it’s possible to produce relevant, engaging and shareable content.
B2B brands have been slow to create online video. However as Linda Louis, Head of Strategic Planning and Marketing, Progressive Content, points out, content companies are helping them distribute video to the right audiences, on the right channels at the right time.
With decent, but relatively inexpensive cameras now widely available, and numerous online platforms to host content, video has transformed B2C marketing. High-profile brands feature user-generated videos, while others make promotional films in a style that reflects this grittier feel.
Is a similar transformation about to hit B2B content marketing? Are we on the verge of an era of disruption driven by the availability of brilliant, low-cost video production companies? Could we be about to witness a shake-up in B2B content marketing as content marketing platforms put businesses directly in touch with filmmakers?
According to a 2015 Google and Millward Brown Digital report on The Changing Face of B2B Marketing, 70% of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase (a jump of 52% in the two years since they last researched this audience). Savvy brands are taking advantage of this trend by ensuring their video content mirrors their sales funnel. For example, the HubSpot video library has a variety of content, from 30-second how-to videos to 30-minute case studies.
An effective video strategy relies on regular, planned and responsive high quality content being distributed on the preferred channels of the target audience in a timely way. This will be a mix of owned (such as brand website, email, and social channels); earned (like influencers’ social and digital channels, PR and partner channels) and paid for channels (for example content discovery networks and publisher partnerships).
“To be truly effective, content must be well executed. Strategic, engaging and high-quality content resonates with target audiences and inspires them to take the desired action.”
However, according to a 2015 Web Video Marketing Council survey, 36% of companies don’t have set annual budgets for video production. Of those that do, 30% of budgets are less than $10,000 per year (which would normally only stretch to one or two videos) and only 13% have a budget of $50,000 or more. So what can be done to produce enough material of the right standard to have an impact?
With the ever-reducing cost of cameras and increasing quality of video on mobile phones, it has never been easier to create content in-house. Initiatives like YouTube’s Unlock the space program, which gives creators with more than 5,000 subscribers access to their highly specified production facilities and online tools, also help businesses create videos. To be truly effective, however, content must be well executed. Strategic, engaging and high-quality content resonates with target audiences and inspires them to take the desired action.
To help overcome budget challenges and access this expertise without compromising quality, more companies are turning to content marketing platforms. These platforms democratise content and often give companies direct access to the content creator network and specialist tools they need. As the solutions are scalable, businesses can also flex content volume and style in-line with insight from data and budget changes. This enables a much more personalised approach to starting and maintaining conversations.
Progressive Content, for example has its own content marketing platform called Content Cloud®. Clients benefit from strategic advice of the agency along with the expert content creator network and powerful digital tools of the platform. REED used Content Cloud® to respond to key events on its content calendar such as the Budget, changes in legislation like Shared Parental Leave and to create several series. For instance, to maximise the impact and effectiveness of REED’s Business Leaders event, a creator from Content Cloud® captured coaching advice from the speaker, Sir Clive Woodward before the event; and created a series of 13 short videos. They were released by REED in a timely way, for example on owned channels during the RBS 6 Nations rugby tournament in 2016, and backed-up by related written content.
So which types of content are delivering the most success and what are the likely future trends? A recent report by Ascend2 ranked the importance and effectiveness of different types of B2B videos in the following order, starting with the most effective:
With interactivity becoming more mainstream, videos are likely to have more features such as integrated data collection forms and other practical tools that will make them active tools for generating leads, qualifying customers, and driving greater engagement. These same tools will enable viewers to self-select their content journey within a single video player, increasing content relevance and engagement, as on the Deloitte ‘Will you fit into Deloitte’ recruitment film. We are also likely to see increasingly personalised video.
With the rising importance of social media, it is likely there will be more emphasis on making videos shareable. That means more videos that make viewers feel strong emotions, such as the surprise of the recent Volvo trucks video where a four-year-old drives Volvo’s toughest truck or humour used by Slack to engage its audience.
Real-time responsive video content is also likely to increase. According to a recent report from Wayin, a social intelligence company, 98% of those surveyed (200 marketers at large enterprises) saw a positive revenue impact from their real-time marketing efforts. As some content marketing platforms give businesses access to vast video resources at short notice it is likely their popularity will also continue to grow.
Videos are most effective when distributed to the right audiences on the right channels at the right time. It is therefore key to pin down where the content will sit and how audiences will be reached before the creative is complete. This way videos can be tailored for each audience and channel. Having a thorough understanding of target audiences and what their preferences are is therefore key.
Once this is defined, content can be distributed on the appropriate owned and earned channels, minimising the amount required for paid channels. Allocating budget in this way will help ensure that the highest possible video quality and content volume is achieved, enabling B2B companies to have better conversations with customers, leading to stronger long-term relationships.
As Cedar’s specially commissioned research reveals, there are some very significant opportunities for brands on YouTube. Here Chris Rayment, Research and Data Insights Director, Cedar, highlights where branded content sites feature in the customer journey and what companies can do to optimise the videos they produce.
Drawing on the results of proprietary research commissioned by Cedar, we sought to explore how British YouTube users interact with branded online video content, highlighting untapped potential for brands to promote engagement, as well as offering them an opportunity to open up new content ‘permissions’.
Working with leading panel provider Populus, we surveyed 500 British YouTube users about their consumption of, and attitudes towards branded online video content. The findings provide insights as to how brands can optimise their online video content strategy. Here’s what the results told us:
1. Usage of branded online video isn’t limited to the start of the purchase journey:
Depending on the product or service being bought, the usage of branded online video will vary. Among YouTube users, it tends to feature in around a third of purchase journeys in areas such as travel (31%) and food and drink (33%), but increases dramatically in some sectors such as technology, rising to as much as half (49%) of the customer base. For all the sectors we looked at, usage of branded online video is most prevalent during the initial consideration and evaluation stages, but usage continued right the way through to the post-purchase experience, particularly in the travel sector.
“Generally, brands who tell interesting stories, which their audience feels has ‘permission’ to talk to them about, are much more successful in their content marketing efforts. ”
2. There’s an appetite for branded online video content:
A common misconception that many marketers have about branded online video content, is that viewers will not engage with online video content if it is produced by a brand. That’s not true – 73% of YouTube users say that if an online video looks entertaining/useful, they will watch it regardless of whether it’s from a brand or not. Furthermore, 57% of respondents agreed that entertaining/useful videos about subjects relevant to them are a good way for brands to connect with them.
3. There’s lots of headroom for brands to increase their subscriber base:
Socialblade’s statistics for the top 500 YouTube channels by subscribers, shows that brands lack a strong presence. Our research revealed that a mere 20% of YouTube users have subscribed to a branded YouTube channel.
For those respondents in our study that had subscribed to a branded online video channel, the second most popular reason for subscribing (behind brand affinity) was the ‘quality of content in the videos’ that the respondent had seen. The suggestion here is that it is entirely possible for a brand to build an online video subscriber base through strong content.
4. Brands can use branded online video content to unlock new brand ‘permissions’:
One argument as to why certain brands aren’t generating quality online video content is that not all brands and/or their products and services, are in a position to produce relevant interesting, entertaining and/or useful videos that people will want to watch.
Generally, brands who tell interesting stories, which their audience feels has ‘permission’ to talk to them about, are much more successful in their content marketing efforts. For example, a telecoms brand might have permission to talk about films and TV – therefore the content they put out about films and TV is likely to be considered relevant and engaging and may benefit the brand. Conversely, if that same telecoms company were to talk about medical issues, their audience is likely to be confused and switch off. When brands go off-topic and veer into content territories that arguably they’ve no business being in, the lack of context or relevance can often have a negative impact on the brand.
However, a big takeout from our research findings is that it’s not always necessary for a brand to have an expert voice on a particular subject in order to build YouTube views. Just a third of respondents said that they would only view online video content from a brand if they considered it to have an expert voice on the subject. This indicates that online video platforms are different from the majority of other channels and platforms in that they are a place that a brand can build permissions in an area where they didn’t have them previously.
Red Bull is a great example of an advertiser who has used branded online video to help build content ‘permissions’. Keen to be seen as a provider of ‘sports-related’ beverages, it created an online video channel populated by people taking part in extreme, action or adventurous sporting activities. To date that channel has five million YouTube subscribers, and videos on the channel have been viewed nearly 1.4bn times. With those sorts of figures, it’s no surprise that we are likely to associate the excitement of extreme sports with Red Bull’s energy drink.
YouTube and other online video platforms should be more than just a place where above-the-line advertising goes to die. More brands need to wake up to online video’s huge content potential, seizing the opportunity to engage with consumers right the way through the customer journey. Make online video content as useful, interesting and/or entertaining as you can and people will watch it regardless of your current brand identity, providing a strategic platform for long-term brand gains.
All sources: Populus/Cedar online branded video research, July 2015
Optimising your video so it appears on search engines is very important, but often overlooked. Stephen Kenwright, Director of Search, Branded3 offers some tips on ensuring videos get discovered.
Search engines connect users with content, but this doesn’t just mean Google, and it doesn’t just mean words and images. YouTube – and not Bing – is the world’s second largest search engine. Google also has a completely separate video search function which is capable of generating huge amounts of traffic.
Most of the videos on YouTube are shot by amateurs and will never get widely seen – that’s not a problem. Plenty of expensively shot, brand-funded video doesn’t get seen either, and that’s a huge problem.
It’s relatively easy to make video content more discoverable on each search engine. It’s also relatively useful to create or utilise video content to make brands more discoverable online in general. Here’s an introduction to doing both.
“Vloggers don’t just create great content – some brands do this too – but they really understand their target audience and they engage with them, commenting, liking and sharing.”
Search engines aren’t able to understand visual content, such as video, in the same way that they understand text, so providing the relevant data to search engines in a language they can understand is fundamental to video SEO. Every page of a website (regardless of whether it contains video content) should be supplemented with meta data – bitesize information for search engines that describes the content of the page. Visitors can see this information in the tabs at the top of their browsers, or as the title of a listing in search results, so it should be descriptive to aid navigation. Ultimately though it is meta data that gives the search engine confidence that content is relevant to users entering a search for similar terms.
If search engines can’t decode video content is it still useful for SEO? Yes. Put simply, search engines are less interested in what your content is about than how users interact with it. If a searcher opens a webpage from the results of a Google search – and that result engages the searcher sufficiently – the result is a good one for that search.
It’s not about bounce rate or time on page – though these metrics are good indicators and tend to be useful KPIs for new video content – it’s about preventing the searcher from having to return to a search engine and opening a different page in search of an answer.
When a searcher does not return to Google to look for a similar result for a significant period of time this is called a long click. A webpage that achieves a long click is considered a good result, and therefore likely to appear more frequently and visibly in Google’s search results.
Conversely a webpage that fails to answer a searcher’s intent, resulting in a rapid bounce, is called a short click. A low time on page is an indicator of poor user experience, and the addition of video content is likely to improve this. If a searcher was looking for a specific type of content which isn’t available this will often result in a short click. Often this is implicit in the search query – “product + reviews”, for example. A 30 second video is as useful for SEO as one that lasts 30 minutes providing it answers the question and the searcher doesn’t have to look elsewhere.
There are obvious conversion related benefits of video content too. A visitor who watches a video on ao.com, for example, is twice as likely to convert and spends 9.1% more on average than one who doesn’t. From a search perspective, a user that is half as likely to convert is potentially twice as likely to return to the search engine and visit a competitor’s webpage instead.
Hosting your video on YouTube or Vimeo generally means more people will see it (but see it out of context). Videos hosted on YouTube are generally quite visible in search engines due to the authority of the site, and often video thumbnails will appear next to the result in a Google search. YouTube is the best video hosting platform for brand awareness, but falls short when it comes to quantifiable customer acquisition.
The alternatives are self-hosting your videos and hosting through a third party platform. If context is important (product demos on product pages, for example) it’s almost always best to self-host or use a third party platform.
Third party platforms are often more customisable and make it easier to measure success. For this reason we tend to recommend Wistia as the best platform to use if the video is going to be hosted in the context of your website – it’s easy to implement calls to action within the video itself, and the analytical capabilities extend beyond hits to heatmaps and granular data.
Self-hosting videos will obviously provide you with the greatest flexibility assuming you also have the biggest budget. Third-party platforms do tend to be more cost effective – Wistia offers free packages (obviously YouTube is free) but even enterprise level unlimited hosting is reasonable.
As I mentioned earlier YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so there’s a significant number of eyeballs for your content if it is surfaced correctly. YouTube SEO is more ‘hygiene related’ than optimising for Google. It’s not dissimilar to optimising apps in the App Store or Google Play. The absolute basics are absolutely essential – title, description and some tags – and then add a transcript, allow comments and make your video public. It’s important to choose the right category, and to choose a relevant raw file name.
After this it becomes more complicated. YouTube has a great API, a keyword research tool It’s possible to build an enormous following on YouTube (as evidenced by the rise of vloggers over the past few years) but the one reason they do better than brands is that they invest. Vloggers don’t just create great content – some brands do this too – but they really understand their target audience and they engage with them, commenting, liking and sharing. If you’re planning to use video just for selling products then YouTube is not for you.
Everything from format to length varies depending on your audience, your existing relationship with them and your objectives. Dan Linstead, Editorial Director, Branded Content at Immediate Media Co focuses on the nuances of creating effective online branded video
What makes someone share a video? Something that’s helpful? Funny? Or just tells a riveting story?
According to a major 2015 study, the answer varies by age: those under 24 are most likely to share content which makes them ‘look funny’, those between 25 and 34 prefer to ‘look intelligent’ and those over 35 share content which ‘tells a story’. Whether or not you agree, these basic creative considerations emphasise the huge scope – and array of choices – which video presents to brands.
Online video is now a vast world filled with diverting niches, from style-hauling vloggers to Vine magicians, foodie Instagrammers to video gameplay messiahs. Brands are competing with every other piece of filmed content on the planet, and the pace of innovation is relentless.
“According to a major 2015 study, ..... those under 24 are most likely to share content which makes them ‘look funny’, those between 25 and 34 prefer to ‘look intelligent’ and those over 35 share content which ‘tells a story’.”
Gone too is the idea that video is inherently appealing or sticky – it’s just another medium now, like text and pictures. And that means a host of creative and strategic questions for brands. How do you reach an audience in such a busy and ephemeral environment? How do you make your video creatively distinctive and valued? And how do you translate views into a return on investment – be that brand affinity, net promoter score or an actual click-to-purchase?
At Immediate, we’ve spent several years exploring these questions, both for our own consumer audiences and for clients and advertisers, and have found – no surprise here – there’s no magic bullet. Everything from format to length varies depending on your audience, your existing relationship with them (from stone cold to warm and fuzzy) and your objectives.
When we talk to a ‘warm’ audience – visitors to our owned channels, subscribers to our magazine brands – we know video can be a powerful tool to convert loyalty into transactions. Our consumer brands are largely focused around special interests – from BBC Gardener’s World to Cycling Plus, Perfect Wedding to BBC Good Food – and being very close to audiences in these sectors has helped us develop video formats that meet the practical needs of these enthusiasts.
How-tos, hacks and product reviews feature prominently, hosted on our own branded channels where we can build repeat visits. To take one example, our cycling brand Bikeradar.com has amassed a YouTube audience of nearly 300,000 subscribers, racking up 24.7 million views in 2015 alone, by serving up audience-savvy content such as ‘Top 5 Dream Wheelsets,’ ‘Sub £1k Road Bikes’ and ‘Learn to Cycle No-Handed.’
These are videos created with an already-engaged audience in mind, and typically run to two or more minutes – epics by social media standards. But they deliver much-wanted information, which attracts search traffic, drives loyalty (channel subscriptions rose by 83,000 in 2014 and 124,000 in 2015) and creates an audience which can be monetised through advertising, sponsorship or click-to-buy.
At the same time, video has become a major part of our content marketing work, for clients including Morrisons, Cineworld, the Scouts Association and English Heritage. These videos, which play out on our clients’ own platforms and social feeds, mix snappy, practical content with elegant, longer-form storytelling which helps build affinity between those brands and their audiences.
Here, the existing relationship is often cooler, and getting cut-through on those busy social channels involves editorial insight and, often, media spend. For example, in the runup to Christmas 2015, Immediate created 15 recipe and craft videos for retailer Morrisons. The projects were deliberately quirky and fun – we made elf donuts, Turkish Delight vodka and Panettone bread and butter pudding, among others – and custom-edited the packages for Facebook (15 secs) and Instagram (6 secs).
The videos were integrated into Morrisons’ other seasonal comms through branding and music; comments and shares were incentivised with a voucher offer, and a media budget helped promote the content on Facebook. The result was over one million views on most of the videos, up to 15k shares and likes per post, and a dramatic surge in Morrisons’ Facebook following to over 500k. In other words, the campaign not only drove interactions during its lifespan, but built a platform for longer-term engagement.
But if short-form, fun videos are one way of driving engagement, longer-form storytelling is another and it is a tactic that resonates with older audiences. Several of our clients are membership organisations, who are looking to video to build emotional rapport as well as short-term transactions. For clients like the Scout Association and English Heritage, we have crafted elegant short films which bring personal stories to life – for example, a scout exploring the Northumberland woods by night, or a history re-enactor preparing his horses for ‘battle.’
Finally, video has come to play a central role in native advertising executions for businesses who use our consumer platforms to reach potential new audiences. In the food sector alone – where we produce BBC Good Food and Olive – we have produced videos for Hotpoint, Schwartz, Baileys and many others.
You might call the potential audiences for these videos lukewarm, in that they’re actively engaging in the subject – food – but not yet in the client brand. The videos are typically housed in pop-out banner ads, and follow an editorial format, mixing presenter-led and ‘hands-only’ styles to demonstrate recipes and tips.
Here, 30 seconds has proved the most successful length, with around 85% completed views – engagement falls significantly over a minute. And, as with our branded content work, seasonality and social support are key factors: a timely Easter or Hallowe’en video will always generate more traction than content without an editorial ‘hook’.
So what’s the right solution for your brand video? The answer is as simple and as complex as any creative endeavour: you need an idea that’s helpful, funny or tells a compelling story; that engages your audience in the right place at the right time; has promotion behind it and a clear objective at the end. Done right, video has a unique ability to turn up the temperature on customer relationships.
Many brands struggle to find their voice in YouTube’s rapidly growing ecosystem. With their understanding of the platform falling short, are brands getting all of the benefits that they can from this audience? Susan Agliata, YouTube, and Simon Baker, ITN Productions, explain what success looks like in a YouTube Branded Content Strategy.
Back in 2006 ITN Productions was the first news company to launch a news channel on YouTube, and has since gone on to grow a large subscriber base and receive over 750M views through purely organic means. More recently they are using this insight to build ‘always on’ YouTube channels for brands including Airbnb, Natwest and Thomas Cook. So how can brands be successful on YouTube?
“Use topical moments, and audience insights to find the intersection of your brand message, and the passions of your target audience. Move from just passive campaign calendar to always-on responsive and reactive to stay relevant and discoverable.”
While every brand will have unique considerations, and KPIs to meet, it’s critical to begin with a fundamental content strategy.
Use topical moments, and audience insights to find the intersection of your brand message, and the passions of your target audience. Move from just passive campaign calendar to always-on responsive and reactive to stay relevant and discoverable.
At the start of 2016, ITN Productions launched ‘NatWest Money Clip’, a new ‘always on’ YouTube channel, with the aim of providing authentic and valuable content that builds trust around the brand.
Most brands commit to delivering single campaigns or sporadically use social, however our audiences are always on. It is this disconnect that represents an opportunity for brands to increase engagement through an always on strategy. The value of an always on strategy is to build a subscriber base over time, and with subscribers watching twice as much content as non-subscribers, it will increase your ROI for using the platform.
The Hero, Hub, Help framework is a great starting point for developing both the content streams your brand should use and the frequency with which you should create new content.
However our first task for Natwest was to translate the brand's aspirations for the channel into a core editorial agenda, finding that ‘sweet spot’ between audience interest and the topics that the brand can add value to. In this case we focused on the fact that the financial world is complex, so our content would be a trusted resource where personal finances are simplified.
Looking at the Hero, Hub, Help framework, we then created different content strands to match audience interests. Today's digital audiences demand regular topical content that they can share. Brands who achieve this create meaningful conversations, drive engagement and become truly relevant and authentic.
Hygiene content answers regularly searched topics that are relevant to the brand. It also benefits from tying in to topical moments, which ITN Productions’ newsroom approach is ideal for. For this strand we created The Money Clip Minute, a weekly show reacting to the latest financial news that affects our audience, led by a presenter and backed up by ITN news footage. Using our editorial planning and Google’s tools we react to topical events, tapping into our audience's interests in real time. In practice this also meant creating a client editorial board to agree on the topics to cover.
Hub content focuses on our core audience's interests and should add value as well as being evergreen and shareable. Within the context of MoneyClip’s role of simplifying personal finance, our hub strand is MoneyClip Tips. Produced every two weeks, the programme brings the best expert advice in practical ways to answer FAQ’s to improve your finances. Subjects flow from the most popular stories we’ve covered in the MoneyClip Minute. So far we’ve featured personal finance bloggers like SlummySingleMummy as well as hearing from Zoopla.
Hero content can act as your attention and awareness grabbers, providing emotive or entertaining content. MoneyClip’s hero content, Money Clip Lives, also ties in with NatWest’s above the line campaigns. Produced each month, these films highlight stories and set challenges around the big events in people's lives, from buying your first home to retirement planning.
The current Natwest TV ad features a fictional family, with the dad running around the house trying to save energy by switching lights off and turning the heating down, only for the kids to turn them back on. MoneyClip Lives builds on the narrative of the TV commercial but adds a level of authenticity that YouTube audiences thrive on to drive engagement. We do this by challenging a real family to go without power for a weekend to highlight energy saving in the home.
Another key strategy driving new subscribers and high engagement to the channel is the use of an on screen presenter. ITN has found that the use of presenters increases the duration people watch a film for as well as increasing the likelihood that viewers will click onto another film on the playlist. They can also ask our audience to subscribe and create appointments to view by telling them when to expect the next clip.
Social media platforms can be ideal places for brands to distribute their video content. However as David Craft, Community Manager, Headstream, argues, brands need to tailor the content they produce for the social platform they are using.
With over eight billion video views a day on Facebook, social media distribution costs at less than 1p per view, and increasingly sophisticated targeting functionality, it’s no wonder that marketers have been re-thinking their video content strategies to include social platforms.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to create a one-size-fits-all TV campaign and publish it across brand channels. Each social platform is different and users have unique ways of engaging and consuming content depending on their platform of choice.
It’s very important to think about video content in the context of where it’s being published. A five minute brand storytelling piece might work well on a brand site where loyal customers are checking in to see what’s new, but it probably won’t have the same results on Facebook or Twitter where casual customers are discovering brand content almost by chance.
Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are driven by discovery. Users aren’t logging in and searching for content, they’re stumbling across it in their newsfeeds, and are either being drawn in or scrolling on. With the amount of content being published from old school friends, work colleagues and Grandma (yes, even she’s on Facebook), brands have to be smart in order to achieve cut-through, and while it’s a logical step to post above-the-line TV ads on brand channels, social media was never intended to be an online billboard.
“It’s not enough to create a one-size-fits-all TV campaign and publish it across brand channels. Each social platform is different and users have unique ways of engaging and consuming content depending on their platform of choice.”
Users are acutely aware of brands’ half-hearted, unnatural attempts at engagement, and are happy to switch off if they feel a brand has hijacked their social space. The best way to avoid this is by simply adding value to the target audience’s social experience with every piece of video content that’s published.
Brand messages have to be delivered, but these messages must be packaged in content that enables, educates and entertains the user. In short, the content has to be about the user and not about the brand.
While the content itself is always a key component to a video’s success, gaining social cut-through often comes down to how a video is edited and tailored for a specific platform. A good edit must have a great hook, and a great hook typically doesn’t include branded intro frames. Yes, branded intros ensure that the audience is aware of the brand’s role in creating the content, but these frames can detract from core messaging and are an automatic redflag to many social media users.
Since social videos will typically be seen alongside the brand’s name and profile image, branded intros are largely redundant too. Energy is key to any video, so if a shot doesn't progress the film, it should probably be cut.
This means establishing shots should be kept to a minimum and serve a specific purpose such as adding context for core message delivery. Ruthless editing is a necessity when creating social specific content.
There might be an amazing shot that took the production crew 12 hours to set up, but if it doesn't fit with the flow of the video, or add some serious excitement/humour/drama, then it needs to be cut. That's not to say that the shot won't be a great fit for another platform, such as YouTube, or a brand site where users are more likely to engage with longform content, but if the video is for social, the shot has to go.
How dialogue is used and edited can also affect video performance. Direct to camera dialogue is an easy way to communicate brand messaging, but we know that social video content relies on visual appeal, and static interviews aren't typically what stops a user from scrolling through their newsfeed.
Instead, audiences are more likely to be engaged using a combination of voice overs and captions. If captions are used creatively, they can add to the visual appeal of a video, hooking an audience’s attention and increasing the length of the view.
It’s also worth thinking about how the video will be consumed on different devices; relying too heavily on sound can mean that the quality of views decreases on mobile devices.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the length of video content for social, and while there’s no magic formula, shorter is typically better. That’s not to say that longer videos won’t work well on social, but the content has to be right. From an editing point of view, a longer video still has to have a great hook, good pace and plenty of energy. From a content perspective, it has to add value to the audience, not the brand.
If it’s not enabling, educating or entertaining, it’s just an ad. At Headstream, we practice what we preach, and after implementing our strategic approach for a recent client, we’ve seen core message delivery rise from 4% to 64% and average view duration rise from 28% to over 80%. Our strategic thinking places the real value of content in the quality of each view, but the quantity of views resulting from our approach is also an indicator of success. For the same client we’ve seen over 3.6 million total views costing less than £0.005 per view.
Video is the ideal medium for communicating complex messages simply and in the shortest timeframe. Yet as Andy Greenhouse – Co-founder, Swhype Media notes, brands need to ask themselves lots of questions before they start shooting.
We’re experiencing an ever-accelerating cultural sandstorm, with every grain fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces. Television has morphed and adapted to seismic cultural changes since its birth, and now 90 years on, video is touted as the new ‘King’ of content, guided by the gravitational pull of ‘Tech’ and its ability to increase download and streaming speeds exponentially, faster than you can say ‘up Periscope’.
While it gets more difficult to reach people aware they are being sold to, and traditional marketing funnels become less effective, video is presented as the ‘must-have’ tool, the trojan horse that can turn the tide of misfortune for businesses across the board.
Video is great for communicating complex messages simply and in the shortest timeframe. It would be easy, as the co-founder of a creative motion agency, to say that everyone should have video constantly in their lives, but one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.
The question remains, when should businesses turn to video content for their next campaign or marketing activity, as video itself becomes another casualty of a cluttered web.
“Solutions like animation can help – telling stories which can talk to a universal audience without them needing to identify with a specific culture or demographic. Within the genre of animation, anything is possible.”
Whether you’re a brand, a business or an individual, video is not an easy medium to harness and a regular online video presence is not always as essential as alternative forms of social marketing.
In September 2015, Ascend2 surveyed an international group of B2B marketing professionals about their use of video. More than 4 out of 10 were using video to increase brand awareness and online engagement, improve customer education and to generate leads. 1 in 3 also hoped to use video to boost conversion rates. However, according to the survey, it wasn’t clear exactly how successful video was for each of them – with almost 50% citing the lack of an effective strategy for video marketing as the biggest obstacle to their success.
Whether or not video is an essential part of a company’s marketing activity is dependent on what needs to be communicated, through which platforms, and to which specific target audience.
One industry which has recently experienced a dramatic shift is consumer publishing. Publishers are waking up to the importance of re-imagining editorial content for other platforms, making it more accessible to an audience who intuitively grab what they need from mobile devices.
It’s not enough to simply repeat editorial content for an online mobile audience – customers want added value, not the same content with a shiny spinning logo. Now ‘new-kid’ publishing brands are turning on the tap for more mobile-friendly digestible content, and some, such as women’s online platform The Pool, established video content as a main focus from the outset.
If however, a brand or company who isn’t positioning themselves as a platform for content (eg. B2B businesses), looks at video for answers, they should consider a few things before racing down the road to the small screen.
Paying attention to the prospective audience or customer is essential. How businesses behave and respond online is a key factor to how they are perceived by the wider public. The content must effectively communicate their own values and behaviour.
In 2012, baby brand Huggies were bitten by a bloggers’ backlash which forced them to pay attention to a key audience demographic after they ran a ‘Dad Test’ campaign. It suggested that fathers were essentially a bit rubbish at childcare. The result was detrimental for Huggies, who pulled their campaign from the web.
So how does video content specifically succeed in an ever more cluttered web environment? The most common obstacles to success are cited as being: lack of an effective strategy; inadequate video budget; lack of compelling content; and not enough production resource.
Most of these issues are solved given a bit of research, planning and consideration, but the issue of inflated budgets can be misleading. Successful video content can be created with little or no-budget, provided the ideas resonate. This is where solutions like animation can help – telling stories which can talk to a universal audience without them needing to identify with a specific culture or demographic. Within the genre of animation, anything is possible.
One of the biggest viral successes in history was the infamous safety campaign video for Melbourne’s Metro Trains which featured a cleverly written song called ‘Dumb Ways To Die’, together with an animated video featuring characters meeting their end by comically unpleasant means. Within a week it gained over 20m views and was featured on Australia’s major news channels. Through a carefully planned strategy, it became the most shared public service campaign ever and the Metro saw a 21% reduction in accidents the following year.
The entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk considers that “every business is a media company”, suggesting “the cost of creating media and the distribution of that media is zero,” meaning if companies are to stay the distance they should be creating multi-platform content themselves, acknowledging how the ownership of that content empowers them to their audience.
Brands who use video brilliantly such as Red Bull, Vice, BuzzFeed, Jamie Oliver, and John Lewis all know what their audience wants and needs, not what the brands want to give them. They create a video content consistency which reflects and communicates their own brand behaviour.
Branded content is morphing into more organic forms such as NikeWomen’s 8-part Margot Vs Lily series which launched in January 2016. Its sitcom format immediately pulled in millions of views and it illustrates the power of owned-media content – in this case for a female audience who identify with Nike’s brand values.
2016 is firing up to be a game-changer with social and vertical video hitting the mainstream and mass Virtual Reality finally becoming less virtual. The creative sparks happen when there is less to lose, but what’s stopping brands embracing the new? Red Bull does it, Virgin does it and it works. Embrace the crazy, the new, the iconic. After all, what brand doesn’t want to be seen as innovative?
Video can be explosive! It can change the landscape and be the catalyst that sends a business skyward, but with great power comes great responsibility and video should always be ‘Handled With Care’.
Finding an audience for branded video requires forethought, strategy and planning. Paul Banks, Head of Original Content, Videojug Networks, argues that brands need to understand platforms, content recommendation systems and social media before they post their videos
Media owners, publishers and brands are entrenched in the battle for clicks, views, likes, downloads, leads and revenue. The challenge is not just beating off competitors, but also engaging users with short attention spans in a modern world filled with distractions.
When it comes to content marketing, the role of video is becoming increasingly clear. Today, more than ever, companies are realising that video has a key role to play. It is a tool for capturing the user’s attention and delivering a brand message in a memorable and meaningful way.
Reaching the target audience is vital to a positive return, whether success is judged on view count, engagements, click through rates, shares or conversions. This is where brands need to be strategic about the distribution platform they choose.
When devising your video distribution strategy, and determining how to reach your target audience, you need to decide which is the right platform for your content. An obvious place to start is your own website, particularly the landing page, as studies have shown that this can increase conversion rates by 800%. An owned, customised platform can drive engagement further.
The customer owned platform that Videojug Networks produced and manages for Haymarket is allowing the publisher to effectively own the audience, being able to track the performance of video content, thus determining ways to refine editorial and marketing strategies.
However, one platform alone isn’t always enough — unless a brand already has a very high volume of traffic from their target market. Even then it has its limitations – the brand needs to ensure they encourage new visitors, not just existing ones, to view their videos.
Brands should consider a focused, business-centric distribution option that gives them more control over how they encourage engagement, capture leads, encourage direct sales, and represent the brand around the video. But, with the plethora of distribution sites available today it may be unclear which platform is the best fit, and why.
Being the second largest search engine and equipped with measurement tools to track the engagement of a video, YouTube would seem an obvious first choice to publish content, but uploading just one video and leaving it there isn’t enough. To maintain an audience requires a regular publishing frequency to keep viewers engaged.
Capable of reaching views in the millions (to date Videojug’s video - Top 6 Tips For Using Black In Your Home - has reached 2.5m views), AOL On is an obvious platform to publish content. But, brands need to be aware that advertising restrictions apply, such as the mentioning of products or inclusion of branded logos.
Also known as content recommendation, contextual advertising or native advertising, content discovery platforms use intelligent, predictive algorithms to match users with anything they might be interested in, including articles, videos, music, apps and products.
“When considering a video marketing campaign, think about ‘piggybacking’ existing events or trends to help maximise results.”
The concept is simple – when you know what you’re looking for, you use a search engine to find it. When you don’t, content discovery will match you with content you are likely to be interested in and may not have known existed, almost like a search engine in reverse.
Content discovery is a hot market with industry leaders such as Taboola & Outbrain competing against a number of challengers such as ContentClick and AdYoulike. Competition is likely to drive down costs, encourage innovation and increase ROI for content owners.
Looking to build their UK presence and attract a wider audience, Food Network increased its views 160% by partnering with Taboola for an audience development solution. The channel used Taboola’s algorithm to push their food related content and recipes across the web to readers who were looking for a particular type of food content, be it cake decorating techniques or dinner party favourites.
Distributing content on social media is another obvious choice to maximise engagement, but a one-size-fits all approach won’t work – each piece of content should be tailored to best suit each social channel.
A three-minute video might perform well on YouTube, but on Facebook a better approach is to publish video content that’s under a minute, with the real trick to get people to watch for more than 30 seconds.
Eye-catching imagery and text (great for silent viewing) is key - the percentage of PopSugar’s video views for longer than 30 seconds doubled when they improved their imagery. Measuring this type of success is a lot easier too, using Facebook’s video metrics tool; the most useful being the audience retention graph, which shows you when your audience started to lose interest on a particular video.
Referencing well-known names also help – a Kylie Jenner-inspired lipstick tutorial on our fashion and beauty channel Pose reached over 300k people, far greater than those without celebrity references.
When considering a video marketing campaign, think about ‘piggybacking’ existing events or trends to help maximise results. AB World Foods wisely chose to launch their Blue Dragon campaign around the Chinese New Year, creating more of a buzz on social, and due to offering the content in series based form, users watched an average of 2.28 videos per visit.
Often content creators aim for a viral hit without realising that to get there is expensive – Volvo didn’t just get lucky with their Epic Split campaign, which garnered six million views in just two days. So how do you go about achieving engagement if you haven’t a big budget for production or marketing? One solution is to produce series based content, something Videojug does frequently with our channels such as the Scoff bitesize series We Heart Food.
Providing content that’s entertaining and informative on a regular basis can pay dividends; it allows consumers to engage with a brand and, what’s more, you don’t have to feature a cliff-hanger at the end of every video.
Harnessing popular YouTubers to promote a brand can be very tricky. Yet as Bindi Kaufmann, Head of Agency and D’Arcy Doran, Head of Content, TCOLondon report in this intriguing case study, original and collaboratively created video content can be highly effective for brands.
We’re always hunting for stories that we can tell on film at TCOLondon. Our video formats for Huck, our youth culture brand, range from an elderly couple who make all of London’s iconic blue plaques, to a former junkie who became an artist in San Quentin prison by making paint from crushed Skittles. We’ve also made videos successfully helping brands frame jeans, vodka, trainers—and even an app—in a new light to engage millennials. But when the opportunity to pitch for a series of videos to promote Canada as a tourism destination arose, we stopped in our tracks.
The sheer scale of the country was something we had to get our minds around—from the Pacific to the Atlantic with mountains, vast forests and the Arctic in between. The client, Destination Canada, was shifting its marketing strategy to focus on content and wanted to kick things off with a groundbreaking campaign starring top YouTube influencers. Oh, and they wanted it to be in German!
Our influences for the project came from within, inspired by existing brand campaigns and by TCOLondon’s own brands – Huck and Little White Lies. But our brand work also informed our approach. In a Nike video series about a pro skateboarder travelling to competitions across Europe, for example, we tested our surf-film-meets-travel-guide approach we brought to the Canada project. Also our work for Google featuring YouTubers playing a game show format to promote Google’s voice search app, informed how we leveraged YouTubers’ personalities and passions to create premium content for a wide audience.
We also watched a lot of YouTube travel videos. YouTubers are among the latest in a line of influencers—after bloggers and journalists—enlisted to promote tourist destinations. With this project they would for the first time move from being add-ons to take centre stage in a media campaign. Often, though, we found self-produced YouTuber travel videos left us feeling unsatisfied. The balance of content leaned heavily towards the personality featuring lots of shots of airports, Starbucks and hotel rooms—the banality of travel. The story and sense of the place often was lost.
Using our Huck film sensibility and Little White Lies’ way of charting emotional reactions, we wanted to make a series that preserved the authenticity of each YouTuber’s own videos, but freed them up to fully experience that feeling of being on the trip of a lifetime, all the while bringing out Canada’s epic nature.
“Destination Canada, was shifting its marketing strategy to focus on content and wanted to kick things off with a ground breaking campaign starring top YouTube influencers”
We drew inspiration from the Trans-Canada Highway, the Route 66 of the North. Working with four top German YouTubers, we went on to shoot a series of short road trip movies—that together became a fast-paced relay across one of the world’s biggest and most beautiful countries. We would also take detours—often big ones—off the Trans-Canada to experience life on a cowboy ranch, snorkel with belugas, or canoe through Algonquin Park.
Crafting the stories was very collaborative. With so many stakeholders involved, we had to listen carefully, learn as much as possible and work quickly. We began by talking with the YouTubers and used those conversations as springboards for ideas. For example, in an initial conversation with Nilam, a YouTube star with more than a million subscribers who also appears on German TV’s equivalent of CSI, we discovered that she was a huge thrill seeker and that she didn’t have a mental image of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. That led to the idea of taking her on a tour of Toronto’s epic buildings, building to Nilam hanging off the edge of one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, the CN Tower. We’d then took story proposals like that to a mix of national, provincial, municipal and individual operators to refine and improve the ideas—while keeping the focus on a story.
Each film had to connect with two different audiences. First, we wanted them to be rewarding for the YouTubers’ fans, but also entertain and engage people who might not know the YouTubers. This was particularly important in Germany where people who bought tickets to Canada in the past tended to be older than your average YouTube audience.
In addition to being hosted on the talents’ YouTube channels, the collections of videos were housed in new hub websites created for the campaign, alongside articles by TCOLondon offering suggested itineraries and additional inspiration. For the UK, the films were also activated through The Guardian to help reach that wider non-YouTube audience. Our goal was to make films that felt native on YouTube, leveraging that strong connection the talent has with their audience, but also to create something cinematic that could potentially be shown on TV, in cinemas, or anywhere out of home.
All 38 German videos launched simultaneously, so people could binge watch the entire sea-to-sea journey—a Netflix-inspired strategy. The four German YouTubers all started promoting the videos at once on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram creating a big Canada travel conversation on social media.
More than 12,000 miles and 50 videos later, the two series had racked up more than 9.4 million views by the end of February. For most of the YouTubers, the videos that we made together were among their channel’s best performing ever, based on views. The audience retention rate was as high as 70% percent on some videos—a level almost never seen on branded content.
The brand lift was also considerable. In January—a peak holiday booking period—searches for Canada on Google hit a six-year high and consumer surveys, taken before and after the campaign launched, showed a 15% increase in respondents who recalled Canada as a vacation destination. The value of the earned media alone for both campaigns exceeded an estimated US$1.5 million, according to SocialEdge calculations. Lazy Bear Lodge, one of the operators featured in the films, said that almost as soon as the videos went live their phones started ringing with calls from Germany. They immediately received five bookings from Germans saying they saw the videos and needed to see the belugas and polar bears for themselves.
A clear purpose is essential for brands as it helps to create an emotional bond with their customers. Sandra Peat, Strategy Director, The Moment Content Company.
“Purpose is about what you do and not just what you say. It has become a business transformation idea.”
As John Rudaizky, partner and global brand and external communications leader at Ernst and Young pointed out for many brands, purpose is underpinning disruption and success in the economy today. Having a clear purpose is absolutely not just a marketing or campaign play, it’s a fundamental belief that sits at the heart of your business.
One of the most important components of brand purpose is the emotional connection it builds with your consumers. At its most successful, brand purpose builds a network of supporters around your brand who want to be actively involved in your brand - as a fan, a customer, and part of your marketing activity. These passionate advocates have the ability to become the front line of your brand growth.
“In a sea of look alike products and brands, communicating purpose can mean the difference (however small) that helps you stand out from the competition.”
Even at its most basic level, purpose can help brands stand out from their competitors, by building unique relevance and affinity. In a sea of look alike products and brands, communicating purpose can mean the difference (however small) that helps you stand out from the competition.
In the digital age we live in, video content is fundamental to this. Nothing else conveys the emotion, tells the story and engages in the way that video content does. It helps to focus attention on the problem and provides an opportunity for brands to demonstrate their commitment to being part of the solution.
When creating purpose led video content, here are ways in to storytelling that are worth considering.
This type of content is usually emotionally intense, working to evolve a strong response from audiences. It can act as a rally cry to draw a community together to fix the problem, including the brand. There have been some great examples of this, especially around women’s issues. “Like a girl” from Always being a recent example.
Using video content to communicate what brands are doing to solve the problem and live out their purpose. The challenge with this type of content is ensuring that the brand is integrated naturally into the storyline without dominating the story. Our recent work on Kenco’s Coffee Vs Gangs is a great example of this.
Evolving storytelling around your brand purpose can be difficult. One way to address the topic matter differently, but still related to purpose, is to talk about individuals and organisations that share your passion. These are often led by partnerships that the brand has created and can leverage in content. John Lewis’s Partner videos are a great example of this. It’s been said that the easiest way to broaden your network is to be generous. Heroing others in your content is an obvious way to do this. It displays a brand confidence that is engaging and appealing for audiences.
Video content can communicate action in a very tangible way. It can also be a way to inspire others to act. In this case the video content is the mechanic. Because of the nature of this, it is very often UGC. The biggest and most well-known of these is the ALS bucket challenge.
Rich Melton, the Moment’s Director on Kenco’s series Coffee vs Gangs has some intuitive tips that are worth considering when leveraging purpose through video content:
In the pursuit of communicating brand purpose, don’t lose sight of authenticity and genuine storytelling. It’s easy for brands to become too focused on communicating their purpose that they lose sight of the incredible individuals and stories surrounding the work that is being done. Our advice is for brands to do something tangible and good that makes them part of the story, while still letting the individuals tell the story.
Make sure that the measures of success are appropriate for the project, especially for video content for purpose brands. For instance, if the focus is too heavily on the amount and length of views, it can undermine the emotional storytelling. Especially if the emotional storytelling is sacrificed in order to fit the “formula” to get the most amount of views. If the focus falls too much on building views (and length of views), the emotion of the story can easily be dumbed down and lost. When this happens, the content views are achieved, but often at the expense of communicating the emotion required to engage with an audience. Arguably it is better to leave a lasting impression with fewer (who then share your story) verses viewing by a larger amount who forget.
There is a huge, (and currently underutilised) opportunity to create audience engagement by leveraging brand purpose through marketing and communications. For some brands purpose and marketing communications still exist in different business spheres, languishing with CSR and internal comms. Video content, with its unique ability to ignite emotion, has the potential to be the bridge within organizations. Building an emotional connection with the audiences that makes them become active, vocal advocates, helping brands to stand for something bigger, better and more engaging.
Online video is evolving. As Arthur Lewin, Head of Film, Remarkable Content explains, content marketers need to keep abreast of new platforms, more sophisticated ways of measuring ROI and technological advances in production.
Everyone loves a good video but, however to truly harness the potential of the medium, we must understand the direction in which this visual phenomenon is moving. Who is driving all this growth, and how is video adapting through technology to meet their needs? How can brands benefit from that demand and the improving technology, and how can we measure the value of all those billions of hours of video being pinged around the globe?
“Video is growing and the way it is being used is evolving. The way its ROI can be measured is maturing, and at the sharp end, namely planning and production, things are also changing focus.”
Let’s start with the last of those questions, which is also arguably the most important.
Video metrics provide a great new source of buzzwords and industry jargon for content strategists, but they are actually a very useful indication of the impact your video is having.
In 2016 analytics can tell you how many people clicked on your video; if they hung around to actually watch your content, and if they were impressed enough by what you had to say that they clicked through to a website.
So you can choose to count the number of clicks – which doesn’t really tell you much about who clicked or whether or not they were glad they did. Or, much more informative is the measure of the percentage of video watched – called the watch rate – which assumes if you like the video, you’ll keep on watching, hopefully to the end.
And in marketing terms this is very important: Decipher Research  carried out a survey in 2012 which found that if you enjoy a video you are 97% more likely to purchase the product being featured.
So video is growing and the way it is being used is evolving. The way its ROI can be measured is maturing, and at the sharp end, namely planning and production, things are also changing focus.
Video is no longer a spectacle that has to be consumed in a traditional place, a set location, time or place. This means planning your video content is key.
The user has more power than ever before and they see through the more traditional tricks of the trade. For example, they are aware of the creator’s mediation of content and the manipulation of truth constructed by the encoder.
This is simply a by-product of the success of video and the amount of moving content consumed on a daily basis. Everybody is now an expert.
As a result the video creator’s job is harder. Audiences demand bespoke, targeted and entertaining content. You need to analyse what actually needs to be said and plan the best way of delivering this information.
The approach and delivery need to work hand in hand. A brilliant video in the wrong location will have limited success. But by identifying your demographics’ habits and traits you can ensure they see your video, whether it be on Facebook, LinkedIn or a website.
The evolution in terms of production means there is a broadening of horizons which is beginning to change the look of video content. The shallow depth of field head shots and close ups are now being overshadowed by more smooth, dynamic, mobile camera shots. Here you can view a behind scenes film showing how we used drones to capture the scale of client MDL Marinas operation. The final film can be viewed here.
Richard Perry, an award winning freelance cameraman, says of the recent innovations.
“The drones revolution, with its gimbal technology, has given us unprecedented access to vibrant, but smooth aerial shots. At the same time, the appetite for more filmic videos has given rise to cameras like the DJI Osmo, a marriage of selfie stick and steady cam, which offers smooth panning shots on the move. And the plethora of current mid-priced 35mm digital cameras such as the Sony FS7 and the Canon C300, offer would be Tarantinos a lower budget cinematic alternative.
“New technology like this means that film makers and videographers have the freedom and the equipment to get more adventurous.”
Elsewhere, multiple cameras are taking us a step nearer, not just watching video, but participating in it. The viewer calls the shots. It’s not virtual reality, it’s vicarious reality. You are apparently in the cockpit with the pilot, choosing the view, adjusting the camera shot.
Back online, viewing the fruits of the videographer’s labour has also undergone a revolution. There’s YouTube and Facebook, obviously, but there’s also Vine, for those short of either time or a long attention span.
This explosion of short form video has resulted in online video viewers spending two-thirds of their viewing time with content that is less than 10 minutes in length, and the content is being viewed on mobile phones: 50% of video views take place on mobiles .
Twitter now has its own live streaming video app – Periscope. You can watch, or broadcast live video from anywhere in the world.
It seems, according to recent research, that it’s likely to be the younger generation.
A study from researchers Childwise , published in January, looked at the media habits of under sixteens over the past year. They discovered that on average five to fifteen year olds now spend three hours a day on the internet, but just over two hours watching television. It also revealed that online viewing by this age group was up 50% from 2015’s figures.
So the upcoming generations are creating a huge demand which is certain to keep growing. And as all the online research statistics tell us, businesses are generating a phenomenal amount of video to meet some of the demand.
Our own report on the state of Content Marketing in 2016 (‘How does Content Marketing fit into your business?’) found that video is considered by far the most effective content marketing output for businesses, with two thirds of marketing professionals who took part rating video as effective or highly effective.
Currently there is an overwhelming clamour for video in business as well as video in leisure. The film makers are responding with ever more inventive, ingenious and effective concepts, meanwhile technology, both online and on camera is scrambling to catch up and feed the seemingly insatiable appetite for video.
French editorial content agency Citizen Press helped the College of Physicians to dust off its conventional image by making video content central to its communication strategy. As Sarah Berrier, Editor in Chief, Citizen Press explains, the impact of the content was more far-reaching than the organisation or the agency expected
The French College of Physicians (Conseil National de l'Ordre des Médecins) is an established and highly-regarded trade organisation for doctors, comprising 261.378 members. Up until recently it has favoured traditional techniques of conveying its key messages to its audience of doctors through the web and print. Two years ago it decided to rejuvenate and re-energise its image in order to better cater the needs of a new generation of doctors. At the moment, doctors in France are on average 51.4 years old, but the 35-49 years old bracket makes up 35% of the total.
With the help of French editorial content agency Citizen Press, the College of Physicians decided to launch two Internet magazines a year (webzines) focussing on practical topics, yet related to its members' concerns.
The future of the medicine will not be written by people from my generation but by young doctors explained Dr Patrick Bouet, Chairman of the College of Physicians, at the webzines' launch, so we have to create communication tools that will enable us to talk to the new generation of doctors.
“Apparently 96% of doctors in France already use the Internet in order to find relevant medical information. ”
Apparently 96% of doctors in France already use the Internet in order to find relevant medical information. So far, the webzines have featured general interest subjects like ‘young doctors and the changes affecting this profession,’ as well as also personal health data. Complementary and alternative medicines were at the centre of another webzine, whereas the most recent issue, published in December, focussed on health and climate change to coincide with the organisation of the COP 21 event in Paris.
The College of Physicians decided to use a video as the first point of contact of each of the webzines, featuring the footage not only on its corporate website, but also on private YouTube pages. With a format no longer than 90 seconds, the trade body used the video, based on motion design, to put forward some basic facts and figures the reader would then be able to develop further by visiting the webzine.
Acting as a teaser, the video builds upon sounds and images, producing very eye-catching content. The short format means that the video can be easily shared through social media networks.
Not only did this new tool manage to engage doctors, but it also helped to attract a wider audience. Several leading medical trade publications in France, like Le Quotidien du Médecin and Le Généraliste, as well as some consumer press titles, took notice of the change of direction of the French College of Physicians and wrote about the new direction.
Doctors have also been very responsive to the change of tone of their trade body. According to a recent readership survey, 18% of medical advisers are using the webzine and watching the motion design video daily. Even more encouraging for the organisation, 85% say they are very satisfied with the format and the presentation of content, while 81% have stated that it was fully relevant to their needs.
After a short trial period, the College of Physicians has now decided to increase the audience of the video and the webzine by launching a dedicated newsletter targeting the 150,000 doctors' members of the College. This newsletter offers a short summary of the webzine and highlights the video content. The trade body is also hoping to extend its current audience base to a wider public by developing a press distribution list targeting general consumers. In the future, the College of Physicians is also considering using the video as an informative tool during major conferences or shows. Another option would be to use video on motion as a communication tool to smooth the work of medical sales representatives.
What was conceived as an expert content tool will now increasingly be used as a pillar of the College of Physicians' communication strategy.
Video content is consumed in a number of ways on a variety of different devices and platforms. And as Kath Hipwell, Head of Content Strategy at Red Bee Media argues, brands need clear editorial positioning that can stand up across all screens
Watching sports from the sidelines (or sofa), buying a new sofa, walking home from work, just waking up or sick in bed. These days, during every one of these activities, we are most likely to be attached to a screen - or two. In fact in 2016 many of us are connected to a screen of some sort for more hours in the day than we spend sleeping.
And that’s increasing. The average time spent watching video on mobile has gone up three hours a week over the last three years according to Ericsson Consumer Lab, and 80% of teenagers fall asleep in front of a screen at least once a week. Multiscreeners’ attention is rarely exclusive though, even when they are awake: particularly in the case of TV where 69% use it along with their smartphones and 58% with their tablets.
Understanding and fighting for audiences’ attention has never been as challenging. Not only are consumers constantly distracted by competing content across different screens, but they expect, and demand, a seamless, personalised experience.
So how do brands fit into all of this? What do they need to do to cut through and connect?
We think there are three fundamentals for brands to thrive in the multiscreen world:
Audiences are made up of people, not demographics, and in this multiscreen world, they’re smart, informed and demanding. If you intend to serve them content it is essential to recognise where people are at as individuals, on a given platform, at a particular moment in time.
A good community manager, for example, can help make something as impersonal as sponsorship of a global sporting event feel relevant to an individual. Robinsons has been credited with delivering the most effective UK based sports events sponsorship in 2015 thanks largely to its use of community managers who respond instantly to individual’s tweets.
“The average time spent watching video on mobile has gone up three hours a week over the last three years according to Ericsson Consumer Lab, and 80% of teenagers fall asleep in front of a screen at least once a week.”
Another approach can be to identify the personal traits of a group, so that you can talk to people in a personal way en masse. Look at one of the most highly regarded campaigns of 2015: ‘This girl can’ from Sport England.
It was not so successful through creative genius alone. Behind the campaign that struck a chord with its audience was six months of diligent research by social media analysts Crimson Hexagon. This revealed that the biggest barrier stopping British women from taking part in sport was fear of judgment. In other words; not being good enough, body parts wobbling, not appearing feminine, going red in the face. This highly personal insight helped to inform the creative work, which went on to inspire 150,000 women to take up sport, reversing the slump in participation seen since the 2012 Olympics.
To help audiences, and your own internal teams, make sense of your content you need clear editorial positioning that can stand up across all screens and provide a distinct and ownable angle for your brand. A good editorial positioning should give your audience a clear reason to spend time with you rather than a competitor, to get DIY or financial tips, or inspiration on where to go for their summer holiday from you over the next person.
Red Bee have developed editorial positionings across the BBC and UKTV portfolios including recently for Dave: ‘Dave adds wit to your world’. This gives Dave a clear tone of voice and direction wherever it appears. Which means that on a nippy day on Twitter Dave can suggest ‘replacing your bike saddle with an oven warmed jacket potato’ to beat the cold. Or on telly Dave might suggest you press the red button now – ‘to see if it still works’
In the multi screen world, the cultural context for our brand and communication has become much more complex and significant. Are people going to come across your content while at work, or in bed, or watching X Factor? Will they have sought it out on YouTube, or stumbled across it in their Facebook newsfeed? Will it initially only be occupying a tiny thumbnail on a smartphone screen – how will they know it’s you?
BBC Three has just undergone a huge transition from being a TV channel to a multichannel entertainment brand for the multiscreen world. It now needs to cut through in a very different environment, where it doesn’t have its own real estate, but has to live instead within social network imposed layouts just like lots of other brands. BBC Three had to own a thumbprint.
Red Bee’s solution was to develop a bold logo and typographic style that enables BBC Three to visibly and clearly own its content wherever you might find it. Bold and graphic idents stand out on any smartphone screen and importantly move out of the way when you want to watch the content too.
If your audience doesn’t know the video is from your, trusted and loved, brand they might not choose it in the first place, and certainly won’t thank you for it afterwards.
In this hyper-connected multi screen world you can’t just shout, as no one will hear you. You can’t just add to the noise, but have to listen to what your audience wants. You need a brand and editorial positioning to deliver it and apply it in a knowing way across all screens.
As more of us remotely control our heating and tap into services such as remote personal training informed by the biometric data on our phones, screens will become even more central to our lives. New behaviour patterns, skills and strategies will emerge which brands will need to adopt to thrive. It’s a constantly evolving game, but one every brand needs to be playing if they don’t want to be left out in the cold.