Devising an effective online video strategy is no mean feat. Although the barriers to entry are lower for brands compared to other media channels such as TV or cinema, marketers must think carefully about the type of video content they produce, the audience it is aimed at and the platforms on which it is shared.
Video viewership continues to surge, with Facebook alone claiming to record over 8 billion daily video views. Meanwhile YouTube reports that the number of channels earning six figures on its platform has increased by 50% year on year.
Here Marketing Week looks at some of the core issues that brands should consider when incorporating video into their marketing strategies – and when to use it.
Use data to ensure video resonates
Although marketers can create and publish videos with relative ease, they should aim to take a scientific approach to their video strategy. Publisher Time Inc, which owns titles like NME, Now and Marie Claire, employs a central team of 20 video producers in the UK that works on both editorial and commercial projects across its brands.
“For us it’s about data rather than doing it on a hunch,” says Mick Greenwood, head of video at Time Inc. “We want to create conversations around our videos, and that involves thinking about the platform and the purpose behind the video.
“If it’s for marketing purposes, we tell the teams they need to do one of four things: amaze, amuse, inform or move – because you need it to become part of a conversation.”
Time Inc has experimented with a range of different video formats across its brands. Look magazine, for example, creates tutorials and has used shoppable Facebook Live videos to help monetise partnerships with brands like Asos and Benefit Cosmetics.
The company has also created interactive 360-degree videos for some of its titles, including a video of a band performance for NME that allowed viewers to zoom in on particular instruments, rather than watching the content from the director’s viewpoint.
Creating a recurring series of content is another way to build audiences, Greenwood argues. For example, one video in the #MumWins series created by Time Inc’s Good to Know site attracted 49 million views on Facebook. “It’s difficult to have a one-size-fits-all approach,” he says.
“InStyle, for example, has experimented with doing one episode of something every Friday and then building an audience every week when they are anticipating something coming. We think that’s a really good model where we’re building returnable series just as you would with a TV schedule, rather than it being all things to all people all the time.”
Meanwhile, Look editor Gilly Ferguson states that live shoppable video is part of a wider content offer for an “increasingly time-poor audience” that is searching for a “fast fashion fix”. During one video with Asos, one fashion item sold out while the video was still live.
On average, someone viewing Facebook on desktop spends 2.5 seconds with a piece of content and 1.7 seconds on mobile.
Ian Edwards, Facebook
“Interactive, shoppable social is just one element of Look’s wider 360-degree brand approach – be it an Insta-series or the introduction of our cross-platform Look Influencer Network last September,” says Ferguson.
“Our shoppable video demonstrates how effectively Look can bridge the gap between brands and our consumers.”
Ted Baker has also experimented with shoppable video. Last September the brand teamed up with film director Guy Ritchie to launch a short film called ‘Mission Impeccable‘ that allowed consumers to click on featured products and buy them.
It followed this up with an episodic campaign called ‘Keeping up with the Bakers’ using Instagram Stories. Much like the previous iteration the new campaign’s main short film was be fully shoppable.
Stand out from the crowd
The sheer volume of video content online presents a challenge to brands that want to cut through the noise and grab the attention of target consumers. Ian Edwards, head of communications planning in Northern Europe for Facebook, says videos should stand out on whichever platform they appear.
“On Facebook and Instagram people see video and other content in a feed which they scroll through quickly,” he notes. “On average, someone viewing Facebook on desktop spends 2.5 seconds with a piece of content and 1.7 seconds on mobile. That means the videos that perform best are the ones that grab your attention quickly.”
More than one-in-three Facebook users report that seeing the logo of a brand they like can get them to stop scrolling and watch, according to Edwards. He also highlights the importance of creating videos that can play without sound as people scroll through their feeds, such as by using subtitles, captions and brand cues.
“People’s eyes cannot resist new, immersive and moving formats,” he adds. “In a recent test run by Facebook, participants gazed five times longer at video than static content and 40% longer at 360[-degree] video than standard video. To create connections that count, experiment with new formats to find out what works best for your brand and campaign objectives.”
In terms of when to deploy video, Edwards says the likelihood a person will buy after seeing an advert on mobile grows between 4pm and 8pm. “That creates a great opportunity for a restaurant or local shop to target by location between those times, and reach commuters who are passing by and in the mood to buy,” he says.
“At the same time, online retailers can use shoppable video across Facebook and Instagram to allow those same commuters to watch their video and buy instantly, directly from the video.”
Business decision makers are among those increasingly consuming digital videos on mobile.
Darcy Keller, Financial Times
At Google, meanwhile, UK managing director of branding David Black is keen to highlight tools such as Google Preferred, which enables brands to target the most engaging content on YouTube and select the audience or content categories they are most interested in.
“You need to understand your audience and how they are behaving online,” he says. “Every campaign will be different, depending on your audience, the times that they’re most engaged and the moments that matter to them.”
Black believes the popularity of skippable ad formats is encouraging brands to create more effective online videos that achieve an immediate impact. “Brands and creative agencies are producing more thumb-stopping creatives that users love to watch,” he says. “Some of the most-viewed videos over the last year on YouTube were ads, because great advertising is great content.
“With online video on mobile being such a fast-growing area, innovative formats which ensure users are engaged as quickly as possible – such as 6-second bumper ads – are a great avenue for brands.”
Make sure videos are responsive
Online video provides brands with the flexibility to create campaigns at speed and in response to trends, news events or customer feedback. Earlier this year, the Financial Times launched a video campaign featuring readers from around the globe discussing the role of FT journalism in their lives.
Chief communications and marketing officer Darcy Keller explains that part of the inspiration for the series was a reader comment last year that went viral. The seven-part series was produced by award-winning film director Felipe P Soares and features an economist in Los Angeles, a corporate communications professional in London and a corporate law consultant in Singapore.
“A recent survey conducted by Alpha Grid, an FT company, found that business decision makers are among those increasingly consuming digital videos on mobile, with a full 76% of respondents saying that they watch mobile videos while traveling,” says Keller.
“They are almost as likely to watch a video on their phone as on a laptop. At the FT, our videos are viewed by an audience of almost four million each month. Given this landscape, it only makes sense to tell our own stories through digital video as well.”
Video allows brands to create campaigns for a broad international audience, though the FT has also adapted some of the films for TV spots on channels like Sky News, Channel 4, Discovery and Bloomberg TV. “The FT is a community – it brings people together across the world who want to take part in a global conversation, and who consider themselves global citizens,” says Keller.
Ultimately, brands must closely track the response to their videos to ensure they are hitting the mark with consumers. The FT reports that the reader campaign has to date generated nearly 5.6 million offline impacts, more than 5 million online views and 77,000 social views. It is small wonder, then, that Keller describes video as “a crucial part of the future of content.”
Marketing Week will be publishing a series of features on video throughout the week.