Time to Get Serious About Online Video


“Online video is becoming a first stop for many customers. It is akin to what the Web page was a decade ago — something that can give early adopters an edge over competitors. It gives them a channel to talk directly to customers in ways previously accessible only to large companies that could afford TV advertisements.”

- New York Times

Now is the time for online video.

Consider the following:

  • 169 million people – fully 75% of U.S. Internet users – watch online videos.  That number increases to 82% when applied to global Internet users.
  • On Facebook, videos are shared 12X more than text and links combined.
  • Video views on YouTube reached more than 1 trillion (that’s trillion with a “T”) in 2011.
  • 57% of U.S. Internet users watch online videos every week.
  • People age 18 to 49 years old now watch an average of 5.4 hours of online video each month.

People are increasing turning to online video – and even better – they are sharing them.  Video is built for the senses – it combines a visual and audio experience – and can pack an emotional power that text and even image have a difficult time matching.

Done right video is an intimate, personal and powerful medium.

But combined with social media, online video has a chance to be the primary driver of engagement on the web.

One of the conclusions in a comprehensive report on online video by eMarketer called “Premium Video: Audiences, Devices and Content” noted:

Many brands are dabbling in interactive ad formats and original programming designed to engage rather than interrupt the viewer… Marketers that push the creative envelope while also considering the overall value of their efforts will be in the strongest position to lead.” (Italics added by me).

Brands already do a lot of video – mostly corporate in nature, many one-step below an advertisement.  This is not the recipe for success in online video.  Customers are not going to abandon TV programming or Hollywood movies to watch commercials.

I see brands having success in online video in two areas: live broadcasting and brandtainment.

Live Broadcasting

Live broadcasting is not the same as live streaming.  A live broadcast is a scripted event – not simply a camera pointing at the action.  Live broadcasting has high-value production.  It is directed and produced and features integrated content.

Let me give you an example.  Live streaming is when you film a roundtable discussion of experts at a trade show – usually from one wobbly camera too far from the action.  Live broadcasting is when you produce a live cooking show from an event, integrate taped features and take questions directly from Facebook and Twitter.  Usually it is filmed from multiple cameras with a mix of distance and close-up shots.

Live broadcasting can add sizzle, urgency and new levels of engagement to an event.  It can drive social engagement to new heights by providing exclusivity to a community.

Brandtainment

Here’s an area in its infancy and set to explode.  Brands creating their own entertainment shows right on social channels.  Think about regular programming being broadcast directly from a Facebook application.

eBay Motors experimented with brandtainment with “The World’s Fastest Car Show,” a weekly online show hosted by Justin Bell.  The show, now in its second season, has audiences that numbers in the tens of thousands.  Some episodes have more than 75,000 views.  eBay Motors integrates the show right on its social channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

“The essence of these shows is to bring the brands closer to our audience in a highly interactive, engaging way,” Mitch Gross, senior manager of display advertising at eBay Motors, said in a recent interview.

As social channels move away from the bulletin board mentality of daily posts in favor of storytelling, online video is a powerful medium to make that happen.  Live broadcasting and brandtainment are campaign driven content that triggers action, reaction, discussion and sharing.

Is your brand getting serious about online video yet?

Links:

“Online Video as a Marketing Tool” in New York Times

eMarketer

LIVE on Social Media

Here Comes Brandtainment

World’s Fastest Car Show by eBay Motors

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