[Pic Courtesy: Bruce Mars, pexels.com]

Every Company is a Media Company!

Thanks to ubiquitous, inexpensive mobile broadband availability and the proliferation of video platforms, consumers are hooked on to videos like never before. In 2017, 74%e traffic came from videos[i], and consumers were watching more than an hour of online videos per day[ii].

Leveraging videos for marketing communication is no longer a strategic option for brands – it’s the most important toolkit at their disposal. The question is – are you fully prepared to exploit this medium to maximize your ROI? Is your video content driving the brand loyalty that your desire? Grabbing eyeballs and holding them is a herculean task with today’s demanding, distracted consumers. If that weren’t enough, you also have to worry about delivering the videos to multiple platforms, measuring their reach and assessing ROI. So, it’s super important for you to choose the right strategy for making your brand a great content destination.

Using standard video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo has remained the benchmark for most marketers over the last decade. We’d say it’s about time to embrace innovations in this space – so that your communication does not get lost amidst the 300 hours of videos uploaded to YouTube every minute![iii]

In order to become a successful content destination, brands need to adopt a 2-pronged approach. Firstly, they need to create content that is meaningful and interesting for the audience. Secondly, they need to incorporate the right tech interventions to deliver more than just a passive viewing experience.

Create Content Worth Sharing

When viewers are bombarded with repeated ads over TV and digital media that carry the same boring message, they tend to blank out the ads, treating them as a disruption to their viewing experience. Brands are therefore turning to what is called “native advertising”, where ads match the look, feel and function of the media platform on which they appear. Here, the brand and its offerings are talked about subtly, and not overtly. According to Business Insider, by 2021, native display ad revenue will make up 74% of total U.S. display ad revenue[iv].

The learning here is to create thought provoking content that is useful to the audience of your brand, content that they can share among their friends and have a conversation about. If you are a beauty products brand, talk about inner beauty beyond moisturizers and creams, and if you are a bank or financial institute, give sound investment tips. Audiences relate brands with what they believe in. Striking the right chord is therefore key for driving brand loyalty.

At the end of such native ad content, you can include a call-to-action (CTA) that will persuade the consumer to click through and try out your products or services. But the communication needs to be subtle, non-intrusive and non-patronizing.

Adopt the Right Technology Stack

Video viewing has traditionally been a lean-back experience, where the audience watches content passively. Today, thanks to smartphones, people want to touch and control everything that appears on a screen. Moreover, there are hundreds of push notifications vying simultaneously for users’ attention. It is little wonder that only 37% of viewers watch an average video till the end, while the rest drop off at various points (Source: Vidyard blog).

However, the right tech interventions can help convert lean back viewing to a lean forward experience. Here’s how:

Interactive Videos

With interactivity tech, users can tap or click on certain hotspots strategically placed within the video, to change the course of the story at their own will. They can choose their own adventure – find more details, shop through an ecommerce site, visit to a microsite, go to another video and much more.

With interactivity, the drop-off rate can be altered dramatically. Accordingly to RAPT Media, interactive videos see a completion rate of 90% and above. However, interactivity can deliver much more than a higher completion rate. It increases consumer engagement and brand recall significantly. Videos can also be converted to shoppable ones, driving leads and actual revenue.

Gamified Videos

When you see an ad a couple of times, there is typically less than 10% recall on its key message. In order to address this challenge, brands spend huge amounts on repeating their ads hundreds of times. One way to improve recall is to gamify an ad. With gamified ads, viewers are asked to play a treasure hunt or quiz. If they win, they are rewarded with points, badges or actual redeemable coupons. Such gamified ads, crafted by cleverly marrying creativity with technology, enhance both engagement and recall hugely. Gamified videos work best on mobile phones, as here push notifications can be leveraged to dole out points and coupons. However, they can be effective on web platforms as well.

Personalized Videos

What if videos could be personalized and created specifically for a named customer? Today, advances in technology have made this possible. Personalized videos engage viewers at a one-on-one level by including their name, picture and other personal details in the storyline. This makes them feel special, and not just part of the masses. Every marketer hones a lot of data about their target customers: their name, demographics, personal preferences, usage patterns etc. These are normally stored in a CRM system and marketing database. Video personalization technology makes it possible to extract CRM data to personalize a video for each individual customer.

Imagine a bank sending a personalized offer to their HNI customer by addressing him/her by name, and including details of his/her past transactions. Or a service provider sending a video that explains different parts of an itemized bill, while upselling a product based on the subscriber’s usage pattern. The possibilities are limitless, and the effects on engagement and brand loyalty are outstanding.

Latest stats from Hubspot, Constellation Research and McKinsey & Company say it all -personalized videos have a 16x increase in click-to-opens and a 4.5x increase in total/unique click-throughs. The average retention rate for personalized videos is 35% higher than for non-personalized videos. Personalization reduces acquisition costs as much as 50%, lifts revenues by 5-15%, and increases the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%.

Beware of one caveat though. Depending on the personalization video tech that you choose, the cost of building, hosting and distributing such videos could be expensive.

Measure More Than Just View Count

Analytics play a crucial role in measuring the success of marketing content. You can use analytics to discover who’s been watching your videos, how much of each video they’ve watched, and which videos are providing the greatest value to your business. Marketers should be able to drill down the analytics, and take the right actions immediately. They should have the flexibility to customize visualization and reports based on their business imperatives, and clearly measure ROI on their video investments. Without meaningful analytics, video marketing remains an exercise akin to shooting in the dark.

Host Videos on Your Own Branded Video Platform

Brands sometimes have a dilemma about whether to host videos on a public (and free) platform like YouTube/Vimeo or to invest in their own online video platform. The YouTube approach has several obvious limitations – the experience on video playback is not branded. Moreover, since YouTube or Vimeo controls the video player, you cannot play special videos with interactivity, gamification or personalization on these platforms. You also have no control on what advertisements your video will have. Even your competitors’ videos can pop up after yours as ads/recommendations. Free platforms also lack customization and dedicated customer support to serve your specific needs (like marketing automation). Dealing with confidential videos for limited circulation remains a challenge, and analytics are limited.

YouTube definitely serves the purpose of larger reach, but when considering the quality of interactions and meaningful reach that can actually generate solid leads, an advanced Online Video Platform (OVP) is often the better answer.

While selecting an OVP, brands should consider whether the platform provides flexibility for easy customization, supports extreme personalization and interactivity, and offers a SaaS pricing model based on usage. Most importantly, they should identify an end-to-end partner who has both the technology and creative capabilities needed to create, host and distribute addictive content across multiple destinations from a single platform. This will eliminate the need to work with multiple vendors, thereby reducing a slew of overhead costs.

Rise Above Run-of-the-mill

In order to transform brands into thriving digital content destinations, marketers have to carefully script their stories in a way that leaves a lasting impression on audiences. Not only does the content need to be inherently engaging, but it should also be made interactive and personalised with the support of cutting edge technology. Next, the entire video package needs to be hosted and distributed from one’s own branded online video platform, where marketers have complete flexibility to store, manage and distribute video campaigns, along with the ability to measure their effectiveness. These steps are key to building brand loyalty in today’s content heavy universe.

So maybe it’s time to take your video strategy to a whole new level!

[ Disclaimer: The author heads the Online Video Platform Business unit at Prime Focus Technologies. For a trial of Interact, the next generation OVP platform, visit https://interactovp.com.]

[i] http://www.insivia.com/27-video-stats-2017

[ii] www.statista.com

[iii] https://merchdope.com/youtube-statistics/

[iv] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-native-ad-report-forecasts-2016-5?r=US&IR=T&IR=T