Thoughts 01.11.14

Beyond TV: The value of branded content

With research by Nielsen reporting that 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future, we take a look into why video content is such an attractive choice for brands.

Thinking beyond TV advertising is critically important and is where video content can play a big role. It gives brands the opportunity to do things that the standard 30-second spot doesn’t cater for. In some instances we’re also seeing video proving to be so impactful that some brands are relying solely on this output to market their products; take Chipotle’s poignant animated videos as an example. So it’s essential to consider what video can do for your brand when looking at the customer journey and how it can be used as a powerful tool to improve campaigns.

When all you have is a 30-second ad to get your brand message across you can’t help but become precious about each second you consume, as in effect; every second is a second to sell. With online video however the absence of time restrictions means brand storytelling can occur more fluidly. Diageo’s global managing director, James Thompson, says their online ads such as Guinness’ award-winning ‘Sapeurs’ and Johnnie Walker’s ‘The Gentleman’s Wager’, will remain integral to Diageo’s marketing strategy as they allow brands to tell the “whole story” and provide an “intimate viewing experience”. Guinness introduced us to the Sapeurs on TV and took this to the next level by following it up with in-depth online documentary content.

With constant advances in technology, online video means brands can indulge in features which lets them communicate their stories in more dynamic ways. Take Old Spice for example whose hit first commercial ‘The man your man could smell like’, spurred on their interactive response campaign. They produced 180 pieces of personalised video content in response to fans commenting on their social channels, and the work went on to record over 65 millions views. Social media gave fans a platform to ask questions and having their own YouTube channel allowed Old Spice to respond with content immediately. More recently, Honda’s ‘double-sided’ video campaign, which promotes both their Honda Civic and Civic Type R models, uses a clever technique that encourages users to press the ‘R’ button on their keyboard to watch two different narratives play out in real-time. By seeking out the opportunities that online video provides Honda have capitalised on this innovative video interaction to create a stand out piece of content.

There’s no denying that the level of detail in which you can measure online video performance is greater than that of your TV ad. You can measure everything from: click-throughs, to time spent watching a video, to specific moments of drop off. Consequently, brands can use data from their online campaigns to guide and inform their existing ones. YouTube point out in their optimization checklist that including keywords, call to actions and high-res thumbnails are all key for optimising your content. YouTube sensation PewDiePie, who has the most subscribed channel of all time, often plays around with these features to test content performance; the availability of key insights helping to drive success.

In this digital age, technology is allowing brands to reach consumers on whichever screens they are using. A recent report by Adobe shows that video viewing on tablet has seen 29% growth, while smartphone has seen 59% growth. Both statistics highlight the need for flexibility and audiences consuming video on their terms. Streaming powerhouse Netflix is focused on offering consumer control. They say in their Long Term View statement online: “We are about the flexibility of any screen any time… The pleasure comes from easy choosing, total control.” As Kevin Spacey pointed out at this year’s Advertising Week: “audiences don’t care about the platform; they care about the content.”

The lesson to observe is that the opportunities in video content are plentiful. With a bit of ambition and a little investment, online video can play a major role in complementing your existing campaigns, or if thought out well, can even be the sole medium to market your product. With the likes of Old Spice, Dove, Chipotle and Samsung all investing in video content, and GoPro even launching their own entertainment video channel, it’s never been more evident that the time to invest in video is now.