It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. At 30 images per second, less than two hours of video would be worth more than all the words in the English language.
Even if that old saying isn’t literally true, video and the strategy behind it are undeniably among the most important tools in the modern marketer’s kit.
This episode of Marketing Makers – the video series for those that make marketing work – breaks down the art and science of video in your marketing mix. Explore the key concepts in this post, then watch to discover the details, including insight from video expert A. Lee Judge.
Digital video really began as a part of marketing and communications strategy in 2005, with the launch and meteoric rise of YouTube. Within six months, the site attracted well over 2 million viewers per day. Within a year, YouTube saw 20,000 new videos uploaded daily and more than 100 million videos per day. And then Google bought it.
The reason digital video suddenly became hot with marketers came down to one word: search.
Creating a two-way street connecting searchers of content and creators of content was like magic for digital marketers.
It wouldn’t be long before YouTube claimed the spot of the second most popular search engine – right behind its parent company’s primary business – Google.com.
As you might expect, marketers began to use YouTube as a content channel. And so came the hyperactive growth of all kinds of video to this channel – how-to videos, commercials, music videos, training films, and most recently, live video about anything you could think of.
YouTube almost morphed into its own internet: one global platform of one content type.
To achieve your video marketing goals, you’ll need a variety of different video types. Find out what types of video your business needs, how to make them, where they fit in the funnel, and more. Get the guide.
Media planning now includes digital video as a format. Video lives in many places beyond YouTube.
Private distribution networks and hosting let viewers avoid the advertising on power sites like YouTube – and they may offer marketers the analytics on who is watching.
You might have videos on your website, content hub, email, mobile apps, social media channels, kiosks, or a hundred other interfaces where our consumers may watch video content.
In 2021, think about video differently than how you did as recently as the mid-2000s. At that time, many corporate teams created as much digital video as they could. It became a byproduct of marketing and advertising efforts.
And that is where many brands remain today. They simply upload TV commercials, webinar slides with voiceovers, and other content that wasn’t created explicitly for a digital video channel. The videos are searchable, sure. But are they engaging as a digital moving picture experience?
Your digital video content must be strategic. Make it more than a byproduct of a general digital strategy. Like any content strategy, video requires purpose and should be created, managed, and activated with the structure and optimization for all the channels where it may be experienced.
Put simply: Treat your digital video strategy as you do your content strategy. It’s an active product ecosystem; plan to create content purposely optimized for the channel where it will be experienced.
As you might expect, a digital video strategy involves similar elements to any content strategy:
You need a clear mission for what pieces, episodes, or structure. Think about which part of the customer’s journey you want to optimize with the video. How is this useful for your customer?
Great marketing campaigns have a messaging architecture. Great video projects have a story architecture. In a television series, a producer would call this a “show bible.” It’s a clear description of everything from what’s allowed in this universe to the key messaging points to tone, visual aesthetics, sound, and editorial guidelines, and sometimes even a script for the story.
When you slow down to build a story architecture, take time to consider all the areas where you may want to use video and the production requirements for each.
Let’s say you have a customer or an influencer participating in a video. Think through all the production aspects you might need. Do you need a short and long version? Do you need behind-the-scenes footage? Do you need an interview with the star or other participants? Do you need different versions, cameras, or aspect ratios (high-end cameras vs. iPhone, for example.)
Consider the production needs for creating the most assets you can from your video opportunity.
Where do you want to distribute this video? Not all video is appropriate for every channel. But don’t preclude channels simply because they’re not part of the main marketing campaign. You never know how something will take off. If you dream up a video social media campaign – and only capture it in a vertical video format with bad sound – what happens when that video goes viral and you want to run it on television? Understand the options behind your distribution strategy and how they may change over time.
By creating it as an integrated content strategy, you should understand which channels, formats, and stories resonated the most. The metrics also should put you in a good position to extend the pieces that perform well – you can double down on those and reuse them in a different context.
The coming interactivity of video will give you a tool to add engagement to your powerful images. Your audience will see the world through the video creator’s eyes and help shape that world too. Interactive technologies will transform video interfaces from one-way experiences into multiple path journeys.
Clothing retailer Ted Baker – one of my favorites, by the way – has integrated this beautifully with their click-to-shop video – where interactive links to shop the clothes you’re seeing are embedded in the video.
Walmart offers another example of interactivity with its Cookshop channel. Viewers can click on areas of the screen to see or shop ingredient lists or choose which story they want to watch after a brief intro. The example below shows an interactive episode of Veggie Boost with Jamie Oliver.
Ask yourself how you can push the envelope and make an interactive video that’s memorable and useful for your audience.
That’s the future of digital video – and marketing.
Video technology has been democratized. Anyone can create video in a fraction of the time, budget, and effort it used to take. Simply creating videos isn’t a differentiating factor.
But the power of video has nothing to do with technology. It has everything to do with the content and creativity in the video.
This is your secret ingredient. Treat digital video strategy as a content strategy. Build it to amplify and optimize your big ideas and you have the opportunity to create the iconic images of tomorrow.
Put simply: Don’t make your static content into video. Make video content. Create the content with a video interface in mind from the very beginning.
As you rethink video – and your ability to really craft beautiful, remarkable, extraordinary experiences – remember the classic quote from media professor and author Marshall McLuhan: “When any new form comes into the foreground of things, we naturally look at it through our old stereos … We’re just trying to fit the old things into the new form.
Today’s digital video is a new form. Take the time to see how you can stretch it into all new places. You might find it enables you to create iconic images that shape a culture.
That’s what Marketing Makers do.