When it comes to making decisions about products and services, people turn to the Internet to find information.  Search engines, predominantly Google, are where most people start.  And, with the advent of the smart phone, searching is no longer just for the computer.  It can be done anywhere you can get a good wireless signal.

Every business hopes their info will be the top listing of a Google search.  There are many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to help with the process, and typically involve the use of key text words and links from other sites.  Yet, Forrester Research has found that online video is 53 times more likely to appear as a top search engine listing than plain text key words.

Even more surprising is that the second most popular search engine these days is YouTube.  That’s right, people seeking information are now searching for it in online videos!

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  Today, online marketing video is worth a million words.  With online video, all the traditional mass media have finally been distilled into one medium.   The combination of moving images, still pictures, graphics, sound, and text – with interactivity and mobile devices – appeals simultaneously to multiple senses making online marketing video the ultimate way to communicate, engage, and capture consumer attention.

Marketing is moving to video, and it’s not showing any signs of letting up.

There are a number of indicators that video is literally taking over the Internet.  2010 was the first year that video traffic surpassed other Internet traffic.  Cisco Systems, the company that makes much of the Internet routing equipment, has said that 90% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2013.  Ooyala, a video delivery service, predicts a 104% increase in use of video online over the next 4 years.  Limelight Networks, a well known content delivery network,  predicts a 31% increase in video traffic per year with no end in sight.

There are four factors driving this trend.

First, and the most obvious, is the Internet. Its depth, continuous updating and ubiquity make it the go to place for information.

Second, broadband wireless.   Today, wireless connections can be as good as hardwired connections.  Some day, historians will look back on the age of wireless as being every bit as significant as the coming of the railroad, automobile, computer or any other ‘disruptive’ technology.

Third, mobile devices.  As mobile devices evolve, smart phones and tablets are changing the way we communicate and do business. New devices, such as the iPad, are being designed primarily as video delivery devices.  Will there be other things?  Of course!  But regardless of how they evolve, video will remain front and center..

Fourth, Content Delivery Networks, or CDN’s. Over the years, video users have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of online video.  This is largely due to the evolution of the  CDN.

The Internet wasn’t designed to pass video around.  The infrastructure was set up to primarily distribute information that is broken up into packets at the sender’s end, and then re-assembled at the receiving end.  Clearly, packets are not well suited for sending a continuous stream of video data.  CDN’s distribute video over their own proprietary networks, which are set up to carry continuous video streams. The net result is a higher quality, less interrupted viewing experience for video audiences.

Online video is where every business should market their products and services.

Thanks to what I call ‘The YouTube Effect’ (simple production value videos) it’s easier and less expensive than ever for a small business to create effective videos and reach a target audience.

Yet, watch out for a few things that don’t work well:

  • Long videos – most people don’t have the attention span, and will often choose the shortest video to watch.
  • Complicated and overproduced videos.
  • Videos that have distracting technical problems, like being too shaky, out of focus, have bad sound, poor lighting, etc.
  • Talking head videos, a person on camera that goes on and on showing little or nothing else.
  • ‘Hosing down’ your business – like a fire hose that sprays everything down, even things that aren’t on fire.  These videos attempt to show everything about a business but lack marketing focus.
  • Videos that are not frequently updated  Research shows that videos that are seen frequently need to be replaced at least monthly.

Here’s what works well:

  • Short videos.  Studies have shown that viewership drops off dramatically after 7 minutes.
  • Videos that appear natural, real and sincere.
  • Videos that are steady, in focus, have good clear sound, and avoid common lighting mistakes.
  • Videos that make your point with visual examples.
  • Videos that focus on the things in your marketing that really make a difference to your sales.

Thanks to inexpensive equipment, simple production value ‘YouTube’ style videos, and convenient mobile display devices, it’s never been easier and less expensive to  produce online videos.  Online video is ‘The Great Equalizer,’ it puts everyone on the same playing field – a tool that every business can use to it’s advantage.

Author: Rick Dearborn is President of MarketVid, a company that helps businesses and organizations create video for marketing, websites, blogging and training.