Video Marketing In A Post-Cambridge Analytica World

I recently attended a presentation at my local City Hall, which was designed to provide information regarding municipal races for positions such as the School Board, and the Parks and Recreation Board.

One prospective candidate shot up his hand and asked:

“What are you doing to prevent Cambridge Analytica-type voter manipulation? Are you aware of the Cambridge Analytica activities?”

The idea that improperly obtained data would be mined for the express purpose of influencing the election of park board commissioners is highly comical. I struggle to imagine what vested interests would go to such lengths to influence the distribution of trees and benches. However, this man’s somewhat accusatory tone and questioning seemed to indicate that he sincerely believed Mark Zuckerberg could click a button and instantaneously cheat him out of his victory.

It perfectly underscores the mass confusion that exists around data privacy issues.

In 2016, computer scientists from Columbia University and the French National Institute analyzed 2.8 million shares on Twitter and found out that six in 10 people share articles that they didn’t bother to read themselves. Modern information consumption is dubious at best, with many readers skimming headlines and avoiding substance.

Given the state of these habits, it isn’t surprising that fear and confusion emerged after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal in March and the implementation of GDPR in May. Consumers who learned about Facebook’s data breach (via headlines, apparently) were then immediately hit with privacy policy update emails regarding online accounts they didn’t even remember creating.

Brands had a difficult task. They were obligated to join the fray to clarify their data policies and comply with new legislation. The wrong messaging could backfire.

Amid the chaos of seemingly endless privacy policy updates, I noticed an email from an unexpected place. London’s Heathrow Airport had sent out a video explaining how they use data. I’d apparently used their free Wi-Fi at some point and wound up on their list.

In the video, they try to explain things in a cheery, simple way, with the use of colorful graphics and binary code raining down in the background. A female narrator claims that Heathrow is “more than just an airport,” and therefore, it requires personal data to deliver the best services.

“We promise to collect, use, and store your personal data in a safe and secure way,” the narrator says, as a literal safe appears on-screen, in the style of simple clipart.

 

 

The reactions in the comment section of the YouTube video vary. One person commented, “Thank you, very informative.” But another user wrote, “Oh my freaking Lord! I used Wi-Fi and all of a sudden we are BFFs!!”

The challenge was difficult and the outcome was mixed. Heathrow needed to establish its brand voice, while also handling a complex and sensitive topic.

Marton Varo is CEO of Brandefy, a video marketing company based in Santa Monica, California. Varo pointed out that airline safety videos have become increasingly entertaining and clever in recent years. In a way, the unconventional safety video is now the convention.

“You have to know who you’re talking to, and how they communicate. You have to talk to your audience in their language,” Varo said. “So, with the Heathrow example, they have a very, very broad audience, obviously. One of the biggest airports in the world, you get people of all sorts and kinds traveling through,” he said. “How do you speak to such a vast community of people?”

The airport ultimately decided on minimalist animation.

Related: 4 Online Video Trends (And When To Use Them In Your Marketing)

“They chose that very simplistic approach because it speaks to a very wide group of people,” Varo said. “So, I think they took the information and they figured out what the key points were that they had to communicate.”

However, the airport also undertook a risk when they went in this direction. There’s a fine line between deliberate minimalism and a cheap-looking product.

“I always tell potential clients that you truly do get what you pay for,” said Varo. “I mean, yes you could go on Fiverr and, for $500, get a very template clipart-based video that’s going to be extremely bland. And it’s going to be like every other explainer video that you’ve probably seen out there at that level. And it’s most likely not going to be effective. I mean, can it? Sure, I guess there’s that chance, but you’re not putting your best foot forward.”

Explainer videos are relevant in confusing times. And due to their nature, they could be a problem for people who are actively avoiding information. It could be that explainer videos now elicit an immediate sense of fatigue. They tend to look similar. They are also explicitly designed to impart information. According to the theories of attention economics, human attention has now become a scarce commodity, and must be treated as such.

In 2018, technological products are increasingly confusing, and so is the environment surrounding them. Video is a method for cutting through the noise. But it needs to be done artfully.

“There’s so much noise, there’s so much content out there,” said Varo. “There has to be something different about it, something that jumps out at the viewer to grab them.”

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