By Todd Lombardo
Let’s face it. Advertising has done a disservice to viewers since, well, the beginning of advertising. Not all the time, but enough to make an impact, with too many ads, selling us things we don’t need, first on TV, then desktops. Today, in the age of YouTube and streaming video, even our phones have been taken hostage.
Is it any wonder that ad blocking has become more of a thing?
Yet, advertising is not “bad.” In fact, it’s a necessary part of the media business. Viewers often forget this. Without advertising, there would be no Golden Age of TV, no ESPN, YouTube, New York Times or even VideoInk. The latest Jimmy Fallon or PewDiePie? Those aren’t free either.
Of course, not everybody dislikes advertising. They are just worn down from the excesses.
I conducted an unscientific qualitative poll with a few folks. I said “advertising” and asked for the first word that comes to mind. This is what I heard.
Money. Annoying. Disruptive. Break-time.
If this is how people feel about advertising. Who should we blame? Agencies that create the ads, media firms that buy the space, broadcasters and publishers that run them? The truth is, good advertising is a balance. Good advertising is an exchange for great content.
And here’s where it gets fascinating. Digital video is heralding in a fundamental change to the media business, where viewers have much greater control over what and when they watch, with mobile video, on-demand, over-the-top and subscription models. At the same time, these digital platforms allow brands to connect directly with viewers. Today, the only difference is the “ad” might be a shorter version of a longer original video playing as a pre-roll.
It’s the perfect storm of opportunity, and the burden is on brands to create something compelling enough for viewers to want to watch, or even seek out. This is why brands have been embracing the development of original video content.
For brands, what makes a great video? Here are five areas to consider:
- Define a creative strategy first. Perhaps your creative brief needs to evolve with the changing times. Campaign objectives matter, but so do the objectives of viewers, who need a reason to watch. What unique promise does your brand make? What story can you tell that will entertain and inspire your viewers, and communicate something about your brand?
- Tell a great story. After all the left brain thinking, the most important parts are still heart, soul and magic. Whether it’s a screenplay, a novel or a video, universal storytelling rules apply: characters, conflicts, emotionality and resolution. Despite its detractors, Dove has done this remarkably well, including its latest video, Change One Thing.
- Acknowledge platform differences. Twitter isn’t Facebook isn’t YouTube isn’t Snapchat, and one-size-fits-all solutions usually don’t. Facebook is great for the first 24 hours, but YouTube may outperform views in the long run. Snapchat videos disappear soon enough. Instagram gives you 15 seconds, with less than two seconds to hook a viewer, while muted. And Vine is a platform dedicated to six seconds of looping entertainment, where food brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King are being surprisingly innovative.
- Embrace social. What does it take to go viral? That’s the million-dollar question that everybody has a good answer for. At CakeWorks, our answer includes originality, viewer insights, emotion and zeitgeist. Wrigley’s Extra tells an amazing new-fashioned love story in “Sarah and Juan” (12 million YouTube views). Kleenex’s “Unlikely Best Friends” has accumulated 55 million Facebook views. Social media is always on, and requires resource investment to manage and measure (see next point). Social media isn’t just a marketing tactic, social media is marketing.
- Measure, measure, measure. The question is always “was it worth it?” Did the time and financial investment result in achieving specific goals? Brand metrics include reach, lift and engagement. Direct response includes metrics including shares, conversion and store visits. And there’s ROI, which, while a difficult metric to master, can be measured via various pre/post, control/test or direct link methodologies. The tactics may change, but the measurement still matters.
Great content that gets watched. Publishers, making money for their content. Viewers, enjoying the show. Those are not a pipe dreams in this day and age, but achievable goals where everybody has a chance to win.
Think you have some awesome video? The first annual Video Marketing Excellence Awards were created to honor the best of the best. Submissions are open till Nov. 30, and the awards will be given out in January. Check it out here.
Todd Lombardo is the head of marketing at CakeWorks, a video consulting firm. He has held digital marketing leadership positions at advertising agencies, Fortune 500 media companies and Silicon Valley start-ups.