Video seeding on the web is a relatively new marketing phenomenon brand advertisers have discovered. It's an innovative way to get brand videos viewed by users on video sites, blogs and social networks. Video seeding relies on a combination of digital PR, on-site and word-of-mouth marketing to get videos viewed on YouTube and other video sites where the fight for attention is fierce.
Since it's still in its infancy, there are many questions and misconceptions about what video seeding is and how to use it. Let me clear those up.
Isn't a great video enough to get the word out?
No, a great video is just the beginning.
We see videos from great creatives and agencies on YouTube and other sites that don't get the views and engagement they deserve. Why? There's an audience for the content, but the people in that audience just are not aware of it.
For example, there's an agency in Seattle that created these great brand videos for Widmer Beer. The agency did everything right with the creative, and the content was fun and social. People in the video were doing what beer drinkers would be doing if they had thought of it. The videos should have received more views, but there wasn't enough marketing support.
People think that viral video just happens. Other video campaigns like Dove, Ray-Ban and Quicksilver were all really successful because they had a lot of planning and marketing behind them.
Can I repurpose the video I have used in other campaigns?
Too often marketers treat video seeding as another medium into which they can shoehorn existing content. But advertisers need to think like an entertainment company and develop different creative altogether. This content needs to compel and engage audiences because viewers on YouTube make a choice to watch your video. So, your creative needs to stand out and compete with LisaNova, or Chocolate Rain, or whatever is popular that day.
Ray-Ban and its ad agency were very effective last year with a campaign we seeded called "Never Hide." They created six videos that were linked creatively, but stood out on their own as individual pieces of entertainment. This enabled audiences to become engaged with the content and share it with their friends. The most popular video of the six, "Guy Catches Glasses with Face," received more than 13 million views on multiple sites and still gets several thousand views a day a year later.
Why can't I just rely on pre- and post-roll video advertising?
I'm not one to rip on pre- and post-roll video advertising. Different ad platforms work for different reasons on any one campaign. But brands are coming to video seeding companies with a type of creative that doesn't fit into a 15-second ad format. There's more of a story to tell, or a different message that can't be conveyed in a shorter ad format.
The one thing I tell clients is that they need to stop thinking of video seeding as an isolated marketing activity; instead it should be integrated with other elements of a marketing campaign. One type of marketing effort shouldn't be carrying all of the weight; integration is key. We find that traditional PR outreach and other media exposure contributes a lot to the effort by driving search and views on the videos we seed, which can be very helpful if timed right.
Why consider video seeding?
Advertisers have a responsibility to make their digital content available in as many places as possible to be consumed by their audience. Social networks are the best places for users to consume video-based media. In this environment, it's easy to watch, comment, share, tag and republish video on other outlets, so you have this incredible extrapolation effect that's not possible with print, TV or radio. When was the last time you ripped an ad out of a magazine and sent it to a friend? With a click of a mouse, you can send a video on YouTube to your friend and comment on it. That's a very powerful opportunity brands can take advantage of.
How does video seeding affect branding?
The branding in videos we seed is usually very subtle. We recommend that our clients brand their creative at the end of the video with a URL, bug, campaign tagline -- or not at all. We also recommend subtle branding within the video itself, but subtle doesn't have to be unmemorable. In a video we seeded called "The Masks" for Microsoft Zune, more than one million views were generated on YouTube and the only branding was at the very end of the video with a URL to microsite zune-arts.net. Of the 3,000+ comments received on the video, many mentioned Zune.
With a successful seeding campaign, users make the connection to the brand. However, how you brand your content should be guided by why you think users are in these social environments in the first place. They're not there to watch TV commercials. They're there to get away from the mainstream and watch what they want to watch on their own terms. If you accept this, you can start to develop and brand worthy creative for these environments.
How does it affect messaging?
What happens oftentimes with clients is that the message they have in mind for their creative and the one we end up with is very different. Feed seeded a controversial GM TV spot for Deutsch Advertising that promoted GM's 100,000-mile warranty. It featured a sympathetic robot that has a bad dream and imagines getting fired from his job at the GM plant. We fell in love with this robot. We created a blog for the robot, created a user account for the robot on YouTube and even helped him do his own podcast -- ultimately zeroing in on the creative that resonated most with users in the environments they socialized in. Often three or four different messages can be used for different audiences, which enables you to cast a bigger net and reach more people with your video.