How many times over the last few months have you heard the noise about the incredible growth of online video? Despite all the hype, the growth is quite real, and marketers are scrambling to learn more efficient and effective ways to produce powerful videos for the tiny screen. User engagement and involvement are keys to the perceived success of online video.
Here are four essentials to making online videos more engaging:
While not yet an industry-adopted term, video storyboarding is a simple concept being used by a few smart marketers to determine optimal video execution before online placement. For example, marketers from Pizza Hut and Amazon are gathering multiple videos through crowdsourced video companies and putting a handful of actual commercial approaches into research settings to determine the best video to put into the marketplace.
By testing up to five very different strategic versions in video form (as opposed to the old-fashioned way of using mood boards or static/traditional storyboards), marketers can get a quick and accurate way of choosing the best video approach for online deployment. It can take a little more time than just developing one video on-the-fly, but this will give marketers a unique flexibility -- and more importantly, it can ensure stronger user engagement.
Use customer influence
Intel took a slightly different approach to video storyboarding. It developed a number of videos, also through crowdsourcing, and narrowed down the initial several videos to two favorites. Those videos were then put directly into the hands of customers. Intel placed the two finalist videos on its dedicated blog and Facebook pages and asked fans to determine which of the two videos should get the big media buy and why.
In the process, it received hundreds of great, detailed comments from very loyal customers, and a high level of "buzz" surrounding the video that was the most reflective of Intel and its core positioning. Intel's customers were excited to be involved in the process of determining a clear winner to go to market. The process of engaging key influencers led to brand lift and an increase in sales.
Proctor & Gamble took a similar approach by placing its favorite "finalist" videos on its website and asking registered users to vote on the best work.
Relevance will always be critical in advertising, but never more so than when videos are used online. Videos appearing in social media sites like Facebook or Google+ must be designed in such a way as to appear comfortable in the environment of "friends" and compatriots who expect prepared content to be relevant to the brand and/or products at hand.
With this in mind, highly stylized videos or celebrity-driven videos have little relevance to an environment where normal, everyday friends congregate. Not only do these ads fail to resonate by being too distant or stuffy, but they can also alienate potential brand friends. If user engagement is what you want, avoid the temptation to "go celebrity." Instead, focus on being truly relevant to your brand and customers.
Addressing online attention deficit
There are clearly points when online videos can cross over to the intrusive, unappreciated level and totally miss successful engagement. While there is no hard and fast rule, it is important to note that when online video ads run too long, they are generally ineffective and can actually be destructive to a brand's engagement strategy. If you can't get your video's targeted message out in 30 seconds or less, then you probably won't succeed.
There have been a few studies suggesting longer lengths to be effective depending on the content, but for commercial messaging, you ought to be designing video content in 30 seconds or less. As with a conversation that goes too long, you risk losing your audience.
Online video will continue to grow and evolve, so it is critical for everyone involved -- ranging from brands, agencies, video production houses, and videographers -- to keep a keen eye on the prize: user engagement.