Web Video Marketing 101
Why should Video Marketing be included in your marketing mix?
Online video is one of the best venues to engage an audience – don’t even think about excluding it! This new medium allows the video creator to communicate a message on multiple levels – via visual imagery, the spoken word, music and visual text. It may sound like a commercial for a Montessori school – but this is the way people learn, and consequently, the way legendary brands are created. As a case in point, think of traditional internet marketing; when was the last time that a paid search listing or banner ad raised your blood pressure or induced you to forward something to a friend? Get the point?
With online video you can also reach a huge audience for a minimal investment, thus the ROI of online video marketing can be astounding. Consider that according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau; more than 50% of the US population will watch video online next year. That’s 155.2 million people, and we’re just talking the US! Increasingly, people are watching a lot of video as well. According to comScore, Americans watched 9 billion online videos just in the month of July.
Like everything else, there is no “free lunch” – the video-sharing sites don’t charge to host your content, but getting your target audience to watch and forward your video is no easy feat. That’s where we come in. Since we are tracking videos across the major video-sharing and social networking sites, we know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.
“Secret Formula” – .50C + .15M + .20T + .15P = Success
Alright, we admit that an exact formula may be a bit over simplistic, but when it comes to deciding how to allocate time and resources on a video intended on marketing something virally, the weighting of these four components should follow closely to something like this: That’s it. Write down the formula above on a cocktail napkin and you have the code cracker for getting people to watch and forward your video. The formula above says that creating a video is a weighted function of four components:
50% C = Content and Production – this is storyline, style lightning, production, etc.
15% M = Metadata – the text title, keywords, descriptions, and categories that help people find your video
20% T = Thumbnail – the packaging which draws people in when displayed on the page
15% P = promotion – just good old fashioned marketing
These aspects help communicate your message far and wide in a way that makes an emotional connection with the viewers in a way that motivates them to pass it along to others. Now we will dive into each component of the secret video marketing formula.
Content and Production – (.5C)
We know now that 50% of creating a great viral video is about content and production. The goal in this stage is to create something remarkable, literally, something that causes people to remark – and in doing so to effectively convey your message. We’ve noticed that certain categories tend to garner the interest of large audiences. Regardless of your message, utilizing a proven content category to package your message is a good way to spread your message wide and far. The remarkable comes in many shapes and sizes:
Humor – everyone loves a laugh, but many of us like to make others laugh as well; this is what makes comedic videos so viral.
Avant-garde videos – videos that push the boundaries of what is acceptable can be incredibly viral – especially since this content never makes it to network TV. But be careful not to damage your brand and to obey by the terms and conditions of the respective video-sharing sites.
Talent – true talent is rare and fascinating. If you can showcase true talent people will forward your video.
Celebrities – we are fascinated with celebrities, and any videos featuring a celebrity are very viral, in part because there are hundreds of websites that follow celebrities and will embed these videos. Beyond virality, celebrities endorsements have a powerful influence on decision making.
Kitsch – don’t kill the messenger, but a remarkable number of the most popular videos we are tracking also contain one or more of the following qualities:
Special effects – the Ray Ban sunglass catching video is a great example. In general, any video that generates debate generates viewers
Animal/pet tricks – man is drawn to animals just as he is to fire… it’s hard to explain, but it seems to have to do with primitive wiring in the brain
Cute kids – one of the draws of online video is that real people capture real moments, and nothing is as straightforward as a child just being herself
Repetitive, catchy music – certainly not a new concept, but with infinite channels come many more opportunities to put up the experimental jingle
Physical injury – thank goodness it’s not me!
Pranks – thank goodness it’s not me!
Spoofs – ride the coattails of the tried and true
And of course, sex always sells
The trick, as with any marketing effort, is to both be remarkable AND communicate your message. Use the right package to make your video a hit, but don’t create a vehicle without passengers. Make sure the content is doing what it supposed to do.
In the online video community, discussions around production are typically in reference to video quality – as it relates to camera, sound, compression, and editing. Some believe that higher production quality is an important component in gaining popularity for ones online videos, while others believe that the popularity of the medium is authenticity, and that lower quality video has a genuine nature that gets lost with higher quality. Given the plethora of widely seen videos over the internet, this concept of quality hasn’t seemed to correlate with audience size or popularity. One thing is for certain: high quality human components of production, such as shooting and editing, make any video more watchable. Paying attention to lighting, framing the shot, and crisp editing is not only more pleasant, it’s often required to make the picture viewable in a small window and on sites with file size restrictions.
Bottom line: choose production components that fit with your message, content, and intended audience.
Some great resources for tips on video production can be found at such sites as:
http://studio.metacafe.com/ (along with many of the sharing sites)
Each video-sharing site let’s you create “tags,” which are words that describe your video. These tags, along with the title and description of the video, are the basis for how your video is located by end users on video-sharing sites like YouTube. This is a simple concept, so it’s remarkable that so many content creators screw it up.
Good use of metadata for video has recently become a requirement. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing used to be the realm of text only, but with search engines like Google and Ask adding video to their search results (“Universal” and “3-D” search, respectively), optimizing the metadata around your videos is increasingly important. This means creating rich and relevant video titles, descriptions and tags.
There are only a few specifics that you need to know about tags. First, max out the tags, title and description for every site. The more metadata describing your video, the more likely someone is to find your video. It’s surprising to see so many uploaders let so much opportunity go to waste by adding few or non-descript tags. Second, your tags, and particularly the category you choose, should be relevant to your video. We have seen video creators go from little viewership to becoming regularly featured producers simply through a better choice of category.
If you are hosting a video on your own site, the same rules apply. But in such a case, be sure to create a relevant file name for your video. It is also advisable to have just one video per page with a simple text title and description place near the video itself. It’s important to keep in mind that most videos are watched in social networking sites, blogs and content sites – not video sharing sites. This means that while you may post your video to YouTube or MetaCafe, many of the views are a result of people embedding that video into another site. The implication is that your video should be hosted on both your website and the video sharing sites for maximum exposure.
One more hint on tags – the TubeMogul “Load and Track” tool shows you how your tags will look on each site as you are uploading videos, and soon will show you the most popular tags and video search terms to help you select appropriate metadata.
Videos that have relevant and rich tags and descriptions will be found and will be forwarded. But there is nothing wrong with supercharging this process, and this is where promotion comes into play. This is especially important as many video sites employ a “bubble up” methodology that promotes videos and content creators that receive the most views, subscribers, comments, ratings and forwards. Thus, then “bubble up” to the top of video sites and become even more popular. So in the video world, popularity begets more popularity.
Building a community is the single best method for promoting a video. This isn’t an overnight process, but can be done by using the infrastructure of the various video-sharing and social networking sites. This means subscribing to people’s videos and leaving creative comments so that people click on your profile. Also, it’s important (and fun) to befriend people and invite them to subscribe to your video channels. You can also join and be a meaningful contributor to various newsgroups and chat rooms. If you can pull off these things, you’ve just created your own set of groupies that will watch your content just because of the relationship, and this applies to both companies and individuals. Yet another way to build community is to write an interesting blog and create a following, as well as responding to the blog posts of others. Also, you’ll be surprised how open bloggers and category experts will be to plug your video in exchange for a “sneak peak” or an interview.
Also consider submitting your videos to other “Web 2.0” websites that employ voting systems to promote content. Some of the most popular sites are Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. As your video or article gains more votes, the video will attract even more attention and may even end up in a featured or “top 10” type category which can generate hundreds of thousands of views in a day.
Generally, deploying videos to multiple sites makes sense as different sites have different content niches and audiences. Essentially, each site represents a community opportunity that you can tap into. TubeMogul “Load and Track” is an easy tool to deploy to multiple sites at once. Here is a handy grid that provides some information on a few of the top video-sharing sites:
Description Demographics Registration Upload Notes
YouTube No intro needed here Evenly female/male audience, even age distribution, U.S. East and West coasts. Easy Fast review process, mainly automated Experimenting with ad sharing
Yahoo! Video An original video destination, but late to the game Slight more male viewers, slightly older, even US geographic distribution Medium Relatively slow and unpredictable review process
MySpace Primarily a social networking site, but video is still huge High percentage of female and under 18 viewers Easy No review process. Videos go live immediately Being rebranded as MySpaceTV
Metacafe Popular worlwide, prides itself on community votes driving featured content Skews towards older, more educated, male viewers Easy Fast human review process Offers ad sharing
Google Video Increasingly becoming more of a video search engine Slightly more male viewers, disproportionately more Hispanic audience Medium Limited review process. Unlimited content length and size Integrates with other Google apps like Web Albums and Picasa
Revver One of the firrst video sites to offer ad revenue sharing Slightly older, white male crowd Easy Discriminating human review process Ads inserted into all videos
DailyMotion The YouTube of Europe Overwhelmingly white male. Higher age and income than most Easy Fast and easy Growing in the US
Blip.tv Publisher-friendly video sharing and distribution site Slightly more male, slightly higher income level than most video sites, even ethnic distribution Easy Easy Publisher can choose to insert ads
Brightcove Trying to bring TV to the internet Even split male and female. Few under 18 viewers Easy Easy Ad share options available
Crackle Focused on making people stars Largely male, disproportionately African-American audience Easy Slick Flash upload tool allows many videos in one shot Owned by Sony
Veoh Focused on full-screen video programming for anyone with a broadband connection Slightly more male viewers, predominantly Asian, distributed across all age categories Medium Easy Investors include Michael Eisner and Time Warner
The last component of our secret formula, and often the most overlooked, is the thumbnail. A thumbnail is the single image that represents your video. This is the image that someone will see before they decide whether or not to watch the video. If your thumbnail is bad it often doesn’t matter if you got all of the other components of the formula right.
So what makes a good thumbnail? Typically thumbnails that are relevant and match the video title, description and tags are all you need. Beyond this, try to select the image that best captures the essence of your video. Unfortunately, each of the video-sharing sites has a different methodology for determining which frame will comprise the thumbnail. At one point, for example, YouTube used the frame that is in the very center of your video as the thumbnail, then they used 1:20 into the video, and now you have a choice of three frames. Other sites give you more options. It will pay off to invest the time to understand how the thumbnail is determined for every site where you deploy your video.
If you have any doubts about the power of thumbnails just check out this video on YouTube – http://youtube.com/watch?v=nhSZs-aAZbo. The video features a thumbnail of Britney Spears topless, but the viewer is soon disappointed to see that the video never delivers upon its promise. In fact, the video has no content, just two frames played over and over – this hasn’t stopped close to 7 million people from watching the video!
There are thousands of successful commercial videos that have gone viral, but we thought we’d share with you a few of our favorites:
Nike – “Touch of Gold” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsO6D1rwrKc
This video features Ronaldinho – one of the most famous footballers in the world. He is sitting on the practice field and all is quiet, when he is presented with a gold box containing a pair of gold Nikes. After putting on the shoes he goes on to hit the crossbar with a soccer ball four times without the ball ever hitting the ground. You find yourself wondering, “Did he really do that?” At the end, the url nikefootball.com is displayed – the message comes across loud and clear. As of 9/24/07 this video has been viewed closed to 17 million times on YouTube alone and continues to garner around 30,000 views daily.
Video characteristics: grainy quality, celebrity, special effects
Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” video series – www.willitblend.com
Think blenders can’t be viral? Blendtec created a video show, complete with theme music and a host that feature their blenders pureeing everything from iPhones to Chuck Norris dolls. The videos are hilarious and definitely convey the message that Blendtec blenders are bad ass. While the videos are distributed on video-sharing sites, the company also built an entire website around the concept. As of 9/24/07 the videos have generated well over 30 million views! Think about what that would cost on network television.
Video characteristics: humor, special effects, integration with retail website, building community (they take requests of what to blend)
FrenchMaidTV’s “How To Register A Domain” – www.frenchmaidtv.com
Think of the last trade show you attended – the most popular booth was probably the one seeded with scantily clad and beautiful women. Take that same concept, inject steroids, and you have FrenchMaidTV where sexy French maids demo products. In this video, the maids show us how to register a domain on GoDaddy. Beyond the obvious attraction, the videos are well produced and feature over the top humorous French accents and interesting story lines, reminiscence of an old Benny Hill comedy spoof.
Video characteristics: Sex sells, humor, pushes boundaries
Online video is a powerful medium for marketing because of its engagement potential, SEO value, and measurement opportunities. There are specific steps one should take to maximize the chances of producing a wildly popular (and widely viewed) web video campaign, and specific tools to help manage those steps. Remember to choose content that is remarkable and incites an emotional connection with the viewer, recognize the value of metadata to help your videos get found and thumbnails to draw in viewers, and last, use the platforms at your disposal to build communities around your video messages. Online video is a powerful marketing tool if you use it to the fullest!