Monday, February 23, 2009

The Coming Video Storm

Years ago Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) developed an advertising campaign for now defunct infrastructure technology provider ViaCast Networks. The creative theme: The Future of the Internet is Written in Broadband.

There is a cliché in technology that you’re never wrong, just early. Unfortunately for ViaCast, it proved to be spot on in this particular case. Small business and consumer broadband connectivity continues to grow with its adoption most likely accelerating thanks to the recently passed economic stimulus bill.

With broadband comes user demand for rich media, such as gaming, virtual reality environments and (of course) video. What this means for corporate marketers, public relations professionals and social media consultants is the requirement to incorporate video into their programs. It’s all part of the challenge of developing and packaging content that engages, educates and entertains.

Strategic has been steeped in video development work these past few months with programs for clients like Microsoft, BearingPoint, GovDelivery and Associates in Radiation Oncology. I’ll also be video blogging in March from industry conferences FOSE/GOVSEC and Satellite 2009.

This is why I’ve been reading with great interest reports of a soon-to-launch video initiative from shoe maker Adidas. According to Brandweek magazine, Adidas.tv is “designed as a global hub for video content produced by the athletic footwear giant and its partners...It also has an 'Originals' channel of shorts created by Adidas.”

Adidas appears to have done its homework having studied successful video business models like Hulu, as well as ill-fated approaches like Bud.tv.


What’s been your experience with video in a digital marketing and social media environment? I am in the process of compiling best practices from my client and social media activities and welcome any insight.

6 comments:

allan wright said...

The storm keeps coming, but it's kept offshore by the hot air security blanked that brands keep tightly wrapped around themselves.

I worked on IVY for 3 years, an amazing "ahead of it's time" video platform for brands... the key differentiator was engaging the video viewer with compelling, informative and entertaining video content, that was interactively connected to all of the information a viewer could possibly desire. Providing brands with a platform for distributing their story, reaching out to consumers and inviting them into the discussion.

L'Oreal bought into the platform, but the security blanket made it impossible for them to execute. From trying to buy video by the pound, trying to repurpose their expensive advertising content, to basically not really having a compelling story to tell, or understanding how to have a conversation.

Will Adidas fall into the same hole, only consumer interest and time will tell.

It's not about the platform, it's not about efficiency through repurposing, it's not about traffic or video hits, it's about having a conversation, giving interesting and compelling reasons for consumers to talk to you. Advertising has shouted at consumers long enough, the tide has changed and brands need to mingle at the party, introduce themselves, and above all to be interesting, engaging and enlightening, if they hope to be the life of the party.

I had similar experiences with Carnival Cruise Lines, Accor, Fnac, France TV and the list goes on. The consistent trend is that none of these brands know how to have an unbiased conversation. Meanwhile, I experience millions of views with small clients more concerned with putting out video that's engaging... the views are not a good metric in my opinion, the comments are, with daily streams of comments from the positive to the negative... it's a party and everyone has an opinion, and a voice.

I'd suggest that "best practices" should be 90% about brands social skills and 10% about platforms and distribution.

Hope this helps, hey, it's just my opinion and I'm ready to have a conversation, isn't that the point.

Allan

Lucky Rock Consulting said...

Hey Marc,

I work with many online media stars and I strongly suggest that folks invest in a custom-branded video platform beyond YouTube. Case in point, Dave Days is an online media superstar with tens of millions of video views. However, utilizing YouTube alone leaves him open to the ravages of search bars, playlists with others' media and poor performance during peak times.

We just launched Dave's custom Internet TV platform and he's already receiving several thousand video views daily. This is a fully-branded community in which Dave is the only star and in which he can connect with fans, run contests, offer personal players, live streams/chats and more. Dave uses his YouTube channel to connect with the masses and then drives them to a custom-branded environment starring his brand and his brand alone.

Folks diving into social media should simultaneously seek out the sites with the most pertinent eyeballs and drive folks to their own fully-branded environs. Relying solely on YouTube, Vimeo and friends will only dilute a brand and hamstring sales efforts.

FYI, your readers can sign up for a free Endavo Media trial account at http://www.endavomedia.com/trial. Just mention Jason and I'll be in touch.

Sergio said...

By and large, I think that you may be missing out on the fact that consumers don't really want to have 'conversations' with corporate entities. People want to have a dialog and share experiences with each other. A corporation is not a human being, and has a different agenda and existential envelopes than humans do, and any communication that doesn't have an empowered individual's identity attached to it is going to suffer for that imbalance. In other words, I can't really communicate on a meaningful level to 'Adidas'. The only really human, really relevant interaction I can have with them as a company is in experiencing the quality and usefulness of their product. In the coming years, people will have increasingly more tools available to help them seek out exactly what they want to see, and tie them into communities of peers that do the same an report back on what they find.

Boastful ad copy, fantastical and/or silly ad campaigns, and other such propaganda are largely relics of centralized media. One of the wonderful things about the leveling power of new media is that there is so much more content, and so many more ways to find it, that people are able to pick and choose that which they want to see, and if engaging content is made available without the interruption of 'brand messages', people will almost certainly increasingly opt for it. I suspect this is largely why attempts by ad agencies to create 'viral spots' are seldom as successful as naturally successful memes (is there any corporate communication that really engages users as much as AYBABTU or LOLCats, for all of their pointlessness?).

As a totally random internet user, I firmly believe that there's not much future in 'push' type branding efforts. We'll have TV as we know it for maybe 10 more years, and movie theaters perhaps indefinitely, but home entertainment I feel will largely be online and largely interactive and/or user-generated. As far as 'branding' is concerned, the future will be about customer service and full disclosure-- I'm thinking companies where all employees are empowered and encouraged to keep totally uncensored blogs (perhaps withholding only trade secret info), and can interact with people in real ways that truly let a corporation's inner culture show. People secretly crave authenticity, and distrust the constant attempts by corporations and their contracted agencies to fabricate identities that are passed off as culture.

That's the view on the ground where I'm standing, anyhow. I imagine that as branding professionals you stand at the intersection of authenticity and 'brand messages'. I suspect that unfiltered reality will be the killer app of new media marketing.

Allan Finkelman said...

Hi Marc,

I completely agree with the contention in your blog regarding the rapidly accelerating interest in video content from a marketing and PR perspective.

My company, OnRequest Images is a provider of custom photography and videography for Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 companies. As little as 2 years ago, most of our clients' interests were centered around still photography. Today, most clients and prospective clients are, at the very least, thinking about how to best utilize video in addition to their still photography needs.

Most commonly, this has been for web site content, and for internal uses. Yet marketers are quite aware of the potential viral power of video and are trying to determine how best to harness this. I would characterize much of the social media activity as early stage or experimental, but it's surely a rapidly evolving landscape.

Allan Finkelman
Business Development
OnRequest Images

Dewey "Marty" Martin said...

Marc

We may all be early, but we are not wrong. It is inevitable that video will be the future of the internet, and that 'sometime soon' websites will not be "electronic text and photo brochures" but will, instead, be private television stations offering a menu of video-based information to the consumer "on-demand".

Getting at this from the POV of a brand may not be the right viewpoint, Adidas.com is, for example, one website. While "interactive" may be a new medium, the foundations of advertising do not change with the medium...they hold true.
So, for example, take a look at a basic ad truth like reach and frequency....how do we extend the reach (and hopefully) frequency of on-line video to hundreds or thousands of websites? That will be the future, and we at .advancedMethod are dipping our toes in a couple new ideas that we hope will be part of that future...it's not rethinking video on the internet, its re-thinking where and how it is used.

Stephen said...

Hi Marc,
I completely agree. Today it's not just TV stations, major networks, or large corporations doing this. Everyone in todays market needs to be incorporating some strategy that involves the use of video on Their Site. I highlighted Their Site because people are using social sites like Myspace, Facebook, and YouTube. These sites are great to increase exposure and generate eyeballs but how do companies make money from them? How do they get them to Their Site and keep them interacting or buying on Their Site? Video is the way and social communities around digital content are being created everyday. Some businesses have sponsors or partners that need exposure, others are producing video for promotional tools and marketing. Bottom line here is how do you create video, how do you control your video, and how can you make money by using video? The tools are available today, take control and do more with your content. Feel free to take a look at our blog as well.

http://endavomediablog.typepad.com/