We are seeing marketers get serious about their online video initiatives. For example, The New York Times highlighted how FedEx, one of the stalwart Super Bowl advertisers, redirected its Super Bowl budget to a major video initiative. After 20 years of acclaimed Super Bowl advertising spots, it's notable when a market leader makes that kind of shift.
"That hurt the Super Bowl much more than any other advertiser, because FedEx is a market leader," said Jerry Della Femina, who is chief executive of Della Femina Rothschild Jeary & Partners and has worked on Madison Avenue since the early 1960s. "Look, you never bet against Federal Express, because they're smart, and when they're doing something, it's well thought out."
Online video usage continues to grow at an explosive rate. July figures from comScore indicate that in the U.S. alone, 21.4 billion videos were watched -- up 88 percent from a year ago. That usage was spread across 81 percent of the internet population watching a remarkable 135 videos per user.
YouTube was a great place for brands to start their forays into online video. However, organizations are finding there are several shortcomings to YouTube that lead them to move beyond YouTube. Note, that I say move beyond, not completely replace. There's little downside to maintaining a YouTube presence, especially since syndication tools proliferate on the site. YouTube remains a reasonable promotional tool, especially as Google seeks to provide more promotional opportunities to organizations. In fact, in the aforementioned example, YouTube was one of the places utilized by FedEx in its first online video campaign.
There are many good reasons why smart marketers are moving beyond YouTube in order to further their goals. This is why they move to platforms from organizations such as Delve Networks, thePlatform, and Brightcove. The following are five of the most important of the criteria and rationale that marketers should use to select a second-generation video content platform (not all are present in every platform):
1. Control over the brand and user experience. Clearly one of YouTube's goals is to not only have you realize you are watching a YouTube video but also to pull you over to YouTube.com. That may be fine if you are uploading a video of your cat falling off a bed, but it's quite a different story if you are trying to communicate a brand message.
For instance, Home Depot might be using a how-to video to encourage someone to tackle a do-it-yourself project that requires buying supplies from Home Depot. They don't want the user pulled away from their experience -- where they might be exposed to videos from the competition. A good video platform enables essentially infinite customization of the player (size, color, branding, channel listings, etc.) that can do a great job of cross-promoting the array of videos you may have.
2. Video SEO. Modern video platforms can aid greatly in facilitating video SEO, which has grown greatly in importance since Google introduced Universal Search (i.e., bringing in image and video results into the main search results page). Amongst the video platforms, this is one of the areas where there is wide variance in the capability of the platform so be sure to investigate this function deeply.
3. Back-end management tools that handle multiple videos simultaneously. It starts with uploading and tagging videos, as well as the ability to create multiple channels/playlists. For an organization that has multiple services or product lines and hundreds of videos, it's vital to be able to easily create channels aligned with various offerings, including allowing a video to show up in more than one channel.
4. Analytics. You'll want to know more than simply how many times your video has been watched. Knowing how users are interacting with your video is critical to evolving your strategy based upon what is and isn't working. While a strong platform has built in analytics, some also enable third-party measurement systems, such as Visible Measures, to be plugged in for further analytics. There are also capabilities from organizations such as Quantcast that provide demographic analysis and comparisons across sites including your competitors.
5. Ability to look "inside" the video. This is one of the most exciting developments in video today. Most systems such as YouTube are "dumb" about the contents of a video. It's essentially an undefined blob. The result is that users not only can't discover what's "inside," but also many abandon watching the video before videos are complete, as they couldn't find the part they may have been looking for.
Some advances in enabling "smart" videos are still in the "science project" phase, such as facial recognition, but more practical applications are being proven in the marketplace and help immensely with discoverability and immersion. Companies such as Delve Networks and Everyzing are rapidly making advances that facilitate video SEO, as well as better discoverability, such as what was demonstrated with the Obama inauguration.
As we approach 50 percent DVR household penetration, FedEx will be the tip of the iceberg of marketers looking to reallocate portions of their TV budgets to other tools deemed more cost effective. Forrester has reported that DVR users report spending nearly 60 percent of their TV time watching recorded or delayed programs in which they skip 92 percent of commercials. It will be exciting to see how agencies and brands respond to the opportunities available to them.
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