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Check your social media profile and it won’t take you long to see shared and sponsored videos from brands. And it’s not just anecdotal evidence that shows how prominent a part of the marketing mix video has become. According to figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Internet Advertising Bureau, spending on mobile video ads rose by 103% to £693 million in the UK during 2016. This was a faster rate of growth than any other ad format and accounted for nearly a third of the overall growth in digital ad spend throughout the year.[1] So why are marketers heavily turning towards video to get their message across?

This Blue Paper will take a look at why it has become so popular, highlight a few notable success stories and offer tips on how you can achieve similar results.

 

Why marketers love video

Major video hosting and sharing platforms on the internet have seen remarkable surges in popularity recently. For instance, at the end of 2015, Facebook revealed that the number of average daily video views from its 500 million users passed the eight billion mark. This was more than double the daily amount recorded in April that year.[2] YouTube, meanwhile, now has more than a billion users, which accounts for nearly a third of all people on the internet. One billion hours of videos are watched on the platform every day, while the number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube is up 50%.[3]

It’s perhaps little wonder then that marketers are sensing growing opportunities from the video platform, particularly as this is a medium that works just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop PCs. Indeed, more than half of YouTube views now come from mobile devices, a reflection of the popularity of videos among people on the move. Furthermore, consumers are actually keen for brands to use this method to engage with them. According to statistics from HubSpot, 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers. As a result, 48% of marketers are planning to add YouTube to their content strategy in the coming year, while 46% plan to do the same with Facebook over the next 12 months.[4]

Another advantage of video for marketers is that it has become a tried and proven promotional tool. Indeed, research by Invodo found that 51.9% of marketing professionals across the world rate video as the type of content that offers the best return on investment. The study also revealed that shoppers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers, while retailers believe video has helped to drive a 40% increase in purchases. [5] Video content has already been proven to aid brand recall, with figures from HubSpot showing 80% of customers remember a video they have watched in the last month.[6]

This is undeniably down to the fact it is a highly visual medium and the brain can process images much faster than words. Videos can also feature sound, which again can help to make it more memorable than primarily text-driven content. By making this impression on existing and prospective customers, organisations can get their brand remembered, which may in turn drive more sales and leads. Furthermore, people who respond favourably to videos could become brand advocates by sharing videos they enjoy on their social media pages.

In a recent study by Wyzowl, 63% of companies said they currently use video as a marketing tool, while 99% of these said they plan to keep doing so in the future. But interestingly, business marketing professionals also cited video as their preferred way of consuming information about a product or service, which suggests video could be effective in both B2C and B2B campaigns.[7]

These numbers present a compelling case for why marketers should embrace videos – and it’s worth stressing that while Facebook and YouTube are two of the main hosting and sharing platforms, they are by no means the only ones. The likes of Instagram and Snapchat are increasingly moving into this space and opening up new opportunities for brands to engage with their target audience via imaginative and creative clips.

 

Case studies

The Financial Times

The FT recently launched a series of videos featuring its readers talking about how the newspaper plays a part in their lives. These videos have racked up more than five million online views and 77,000 social views so far. Darcy Keller, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the publication, said it launched the campaign after FT company Alpha Grid found that business decision-makers are among those increasingly consuming digital videos on mobiles, with more than three-quarters watching mobile videos while travelling.

She said: “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.” Given the success of this campaign, Ms Keller believes video is now “a crucial part of the future of content.” [8]

Time Inc

The publishing company, which is behind well-known names such as Marie Claire and NME, has been increasingly experimenting with various types of videos in the last few years in order to connect with readers. For instance, NME has used 360-degree videos to give readers the chance to look around the stage during a band’s performance. Look magazine, meanwhile, often uploads tutorials to help readers learn how to apply cosmetics.

As Mick Greenwood, Head of Video at Time Inc, explains, the aim is to “create conversations around our videos, and that involves thinking about the platform and the purpose behind the video. For us it’s about data rather than doing it on a hunch,” he commented. “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.”

Creating a recurring series of videos has also worked well for Time Inc., as InStyle has recently been uploading a new video every Friday and built a sense of anticipation among the audience for the next one. “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,” Mr Greenwood said.[9]

Red Bull

The sheer number of videos Red Bull uploads – hundreds every year – helped it become the most shared video brand of 2016, according to research by video ad tech firm Unruly. Red Bull’s sports and music videos were shared more than 27 million times, eclipsing the second-placed Samsung, which achieved 12.5 million video shares. Even McDonald’s was left in the shade, with its videos racking up 8.6 million shares in the same year.

According to Unruly, the figures are not a reflection of the paid metric of video viewership, and instead demonstrate how much of a buzz or virality was generated by the clip. Devra Prywes, Senior Vice-President of Insights and Marketing in the US at Unruly, commented: “The winners hit the mark by creating highly emotional ads that resonated with viewers, resulting in high levels of engagement and sharing. Red Bull’s success demonstrates the advantages of being prolific with video content in order to gain greater online visibility, rather than relying on one or a handful of video to go viral.[10]

 

How to get results from your videos

Creating videos to support your marketing efforts doesn’t need to be expensive. Indeed, there is plenty of free and affordable video editing software out there, along with graphic design tools that can help you create a professional looking clip. Furthermore, many smartphones will be capable of capturing high-definition footage that is worthy of inclusion.

However creating a video is not an instant guarantee of marketing success by itself, as there are a few other key issues to consider;

Videos should stand out

Countless brands and individuals are all competing for attention on the likes of Facebook and Instagram, as video and other content is displayed in a feed that can easily be scrolled through quickly. It’s therefore imperative that the video stands out in the crowd and draws in casual observers. As Ian Edwards, Head of Communications Planning in Northern Europe for Facebook, says: “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.” Mr Edwards added that more than 1 in 3 Facebook users will stop scrolling and watch if they see the logo of a brand they like, which suggests that existing brand equity can play a big part in driving the success of many video-based campaigns.[11]

Videos should be able to play without sound

Many people will often watch videos while they are on the bus or train to work, so will be conscious of being quiet so as to avoid disturbing other commuters. That’s possibly one reason why – according to Digiday – 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.[12] As a result, it pays for brands to make sure the videos they share online can be viewed and understood without an audio track. Recognisable brand images, subtitles and captions can be great ways of making sure your key message is put across, even if people are only watching rather than listening to your video.

Be willing to experiment

According to figures from Facebook, people gaze 5 times longer at video than static content, and 40% longer at 360-degree video than standard video. Ian Edwards, from the social networking site, believes this shows people “cannot resist new, immersive and moving formats.” As a result, he believes brands should be prepared to try out different styles and approaches, so they can get a good idea of what their audience responds to the most. He said: “To create connections that count, experiment with new formats to find out what works best for your brand and campaign objectives.”

Timing is crucial

Getting people to watch a video is one thing, but getting them to watch it and turning them into paying customers is something else entirely. With that in mind, it is well worth researching the best times to post a video on your chosen platform, rather than relying on trial and error. At the same time, dig deep into how receptive people are to marketing content at certain times and whether there are differences depending on what device people are using. According to Mr Edwards of Facebook, people are more likely to buy after seeing an advert on a mobile device 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. 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.”

Tailor videos to each platform

Brands don’t need to limit themselves to sharing a single video across multiple platforms, as the audiences on YouTube, for example, might be quite different to those on LinkedIn. With that in mind, it pays to tweak the material you have created so you can meet the specific brand objectives you have in mind. As Lux Narayan, Chief Executive of social analytics platform Unmetric, points out: “Brands don’t always need to use the exact same content and can make slightly different versions of a video for both channels.” This can also be a good way of saving money, as it means you can subtly repurpose existing material rather than create a new video from scratch if you are looking to reach out on a new platform.[13]

Measure your results

Marketers can only determine if they are successful by tracking the performance of their promotional material, and this is certainly true for video. Only by knowing what you want to achieve and measuring if you are meeting these objectives can you establish whether or not a video-based campaign has yielded strong results. According to figures from Vidyard, 37% of businesses are using intermediate or advanced analytics to measure video performance.[14]

Many platforms such as Facebook and YouTube also free data analytics which can be very revealing in terms of establishing exactly who is watching your content and where they are based.

Aim for targeted reach

It goes without saying you can only determine if a video marketing campaign has been a success if you had a clear marker of success in mind at the outset. This means that getting the highest possible number of video views isn’t always important, as that doesn’t necessarily mean the people you are looking to reach are watching or acting on what they see. As a result, marketers need to aim for what Matt Phelan, Chief Executive of agency 4PS, describes as “targeted reach”. “There is no point in going after reach just for the sake of hitting the biggest audience, it’s like data, having useful data is much more important than having big data. Big doesn’t always equal better, and this is definitely true in marketing.” [15]

Keep it brief

Internet users don’t always have particularly long attention spans and will think nothing of clicking away from something that isn’t keeping them informed or entertained. This means brands should focus on brevity they are when devising video-based marketing content, rather than risk outstaying their welcome. According to data from Vidyard, 56% of videos published in the last year are less than two minutes long, which suggests most brands are aware of the need to make a quick impact with their clip. [16] While two minutes or less might not seem like long to push a key message, the restriction can actually lead to them being delivered much more efficiently and succinctly.

 

And finally …

The sheer number of video sharing platforms, from Facebook and YouTube to Instagram and Snapchat, means brands have countless opportunities to engage with their target audience via creative and informative clips. But since video marketing is becoming increasingly competitive, brands need to make sure they are telling a compelling story that means something to viewers.

The case studies we highlighted all have one thing in common – they added genuine value to the customer experience, and provided customers with something the brand knew they wanted. That could be information on the industry they work in, advice on how to use a product or stories that resonate and stir the emotions. Brands cannot publish video content in a vacuum and simply hope for the best, but by mining your customer datasets to work out what could be valuable to the people you’re aiming to reach, you could already have the makings of a very successful video campaign to hand.

 

 

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