Answers to Three Key Questions About Video

Like mobile and social, video is highly regarded as a channel of the future, largely due to millennials’ copious content consumption on the channel. Marketers know and understand this, but many of them still have questions as to whether video is as effective as some claim; and if it is, is that true for all verticals? Consider, what would be the answer if the topic were TV, not video?

“There’s not one video that fits all,” says John S. Couch, head of creative and design at eBay Enterprise. “There’s all types of television; there are documentaries, reality TV. It can be argued that those are all video, but they’re all for different audiences. In the same way Hollywood is sophisticated about knowing what the audience wants to see, marketers have to think the same way about video.”

This, of course, raises many questions about video marketing. On a strategy level, the answers to these questions are heavily contextually dependent on the specifics of a brand, its business, and its audience. However, there are a few conceptual insights that can be applied to the general practice of video marketing. Here, we explore three of them.

Is video always worth it?

Simply put, yes. True, some forms of marketing, such as influencer marketing or outdoor advertising, may be more effective depending on the business and industry in question. Video, however, is widely considered an effective marketing approach for virtually any business in any vertical.

“Video should be a top priority for every marketer,” says Max Leisten, head of product at digital marketing intelligence provider Netsertive.

“Since so much spend is being shifted to online video advertising, it’s absolutely imperative that marketers have a handle on how their video ads are performing,” adds Jonathan Stefansky, CEO at video engagement company Viewbix.

Of course, there is a degree of nuance here. While any brand can make effective use of video in its marketing, that doesn’t necessarily mean that video will always be the best approach.

“[Video] is usually not a good short-term or ad hoc tactic,” explains Raju Malhotra, SVP of product and technology at digital personalization platform Conversant. “Unless it is user-generated content, there can be a higher barrier for good video experience due to production and media costs. While the rewards are plentiful, there are bigger risks of a poorly executed video in terms of brand equity.”

How should marketers approach video in the first place?

Awareness? Branding? Calls-to-action? As a strategic marketing asset, video can accomplish each of these goals. Indeed, a single well-crafted and well-timed video can serve all of these causes simultaneously. This adaptability gives value and priority to video as a channel; but that same quality risks diluting its impact. To simplify their strategizing, marketers can approach video in one of two ways.

“There’s two types of approaches to video. One is branding and the other conversion,” Couch says. “Branding video is any kind of video that helps tell the [story] of the company.” Marketers can fortify their brand through thought leadership, and other educational videos. “You can use educational videos to put forward ideas that then have a halo effect on the brand. People don’t want to be just sold to, but they do want to be educated,” he adds. “The second kind of video is more utilitarian, and that’s video to directly cause an action or conversion.”

Video’s ability to prompt action, the latter of Couch’s two types of videos, is compelling to many marketers, and understandably so. Marketers can use them to quickly capitalize on customers’ engagement with their content—a boon in these times when attention spans are so short.

“Usually, if somebody is clicking on video, they’re already at another level of engagement…make sure video is paying that off,” says Jimmy Zdancewicz, studio director at eBay Enterprise.

How do marketers drive action through video?

Like video in general, there are a couple of ways to achieve this. The easiest—and perhaps the safest—route is to supplement, or outright replace, traditional marketing copy with video content. “Many [companies] have a word wall on their Web page, and people don’t read it. You may think they are, but they probably are not,” Couch says. “With video, or even audio, you’re taking dense information, and through video and narration, you’re breaking it down in a very consumable way for people who don’t have a lot time to read about your stuff.”

Alternatively, marketers can take a more experimental and potentially future-proofing approach. Videos such as the 24-hour interactive music video for Pharrell’s hit song “Happy,” or the interactive music video of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” can provide longer-term engagement.

“What [these videos do] is change the way people engage with video. Instead of being a linear medium, it can be a choose-your-own-venture kind of experience, too,” Couch says.

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