Video Marketing Blog

Why Search-driven Videos Perform Better

If you added up all the various searches that women do on a monthly basis, would you guess that more of them are related to food & recipes, health, or personal care?

The answer is usually health.

Let’s talk about that category.  Within health, would you imagine that they search more on pregnancy-related issues, menopause-related issues, breast cancer, heart disease, cosmetic surgery, or something else?  The answer is that in most of the periods we analyze, women do more pregnancy-related searches than anything else.

And within all those pregnancy searches, what issues bubble to the top that women are most worried about?

1. fetal development and belly size
2. what to expect (i.e. general pregnancy)
3. determining if (i.e. determining if pregnant) 

We use an in-house tool (Scoop) to get these results. We developed this tool to classify searches into broad (and then specific) topics that we can actually do something about.  Keyword research couldn’t deliver actionable search insights, and we found the limitations were hurting our ability to create relevant content.

Why was this so important to us?  Because, if you are going to make video content, and you want people to see it, you might as well make it on topics people are already searching for. Making content that people are most passionate about does something more than increase the reach of a piece of content – it increases people’s engagement with the content. When a brand takes on the role of “expert” to provide that information, the consumer deepens their relationship with the brand.

All consumers are in some sort of need state when searching for information. The more heightened the need state, the stronger the bond with the brand through the experience. In the classic offline or traditional marketing models, getting to this kind of brand connection – where the consumer trusts the brand – can take decades. And it only tends to work when the information is not perceived as advertising.  Once that line has been crossed (i.e. the “ad” line), the notion of trust is compromised and the same connection will not occur. Duped is not a good consumer sentiment for any brand.

Using pregnancy as an example, if a brand like Johnson & Johnson shows up when a pregnant mom feels anxious about baby’s development, the bond that can be formed between brand and consumer is impossible to replicate any other way. It certainly won’t happen with a 30-second spot or a print ad, and not even a brochure at the doctor’s office meets her need in such a direct and timely way.

To properly earn this level trust, the brand must have expertise on the topic.  Women might love Olay, but that doesn’t mean that brand is “qualified” to make Branded Content on the subject of newborn care.  If Olay made editorial videos on newborn care, the presence of the brand on the video would be disruptive.  An example of this is what Unilever did with Caress.

First, let’s give credit where credit is due:  Unilever has led the way with many forms of successful web video. And as an innovator, they’ve also bumped into their share of mistakes from which the rest of us can learn. Such was the case with a “branded information” video featuring Carson Kressly talking about fashion. It started out fine, but then stuck in an oops-he-crossed-the-line sales message about how silky skin is part of good fashion and Caress can help you get there.  An expensive media placement on the front page of YouTube drew ire from the viewing public.  The line between branded information and a commercial might be thin, but put one toe over it and the negative comments and “dislikes” will shock you….not good news for the brand.

The trick to getting it right?

First, good search research that is able to discern topic popularity in the categories where the brand has legitimate expertise. Next, find video producers with expertise in the editorial world instead of the commercial world. These journalists will have a strong sense of right and wrong when it comes to editorial content, and they won’t be tempted to juice up the video creatively. They understand that straight-forward information may not win Grand Prix at Cannes. But for consumers who are in a heightened need state, a three-minute video that tells it like it is and provides a clean, clear pathway to solving a problem is exactly what the doctor ordered.

One final point: interestingly, although pregnancy, new motherhood, and other parenting topics are some of the most popular, very few brands have used video to address it.  In fact, at a recent YouTube partner’s meeting, YouTube asked our team to please produce more content for young mothers because it's one of the most under-served topics content-wise on YouTube.

So, if you’re a brand with expertise that applies to young mothers, give Touchstorm a call.  (Oops, that’s what we call stepping over the line from editorial to commercial). Strike that last line.

3 Fixes For Flawed Online Video Advertising Strategies

Recently read about Brightroll using Magnetic’s platform for re-targeting online video advertising, and ran across this quote:

“The amazing power of online video creates a visceral response from users, given how engaging the ads can be. Imagine serving a stylistic video of a BMW racing through the streets of New York to a user who is in purchase mode for a luxury car – and we know this because the user’s key word searches show the exact intent. This is the branding opportunity we are delivering,” said Josh Shatkin-Margolis, CEO of Magnetic. “By combining this opportunity with search, the highest converting source of data, we’ve made it easy for advertisers to create a perfect synergy of ad creative, media, and data.”

At first glance, this all seems about right, but when you dig into it a bit more, there are some problems with the model that is developing for online video. Here’s three thoughts about this approach, and some alternatives:

Quote #1: “online video creates a visceral response from users”

Response: Video on your computer monitor is not nearly as “visceral” as your home entertainment system. With HD flat screens the norm now, and sizes growing beyond 60″ and even 72″ rapidly, your desktop does not stand a chance. We are importing movie theatre experiences into our living rooms at a rapid rate, and the lowly 27″ computer screen is going to pale in “visceral” terms. But this is not a problem. Why? Because people are not looking for or expecting “visceral” experiences online…they are looking for information and looking to connect with other people. Creating high quality, useful video content and then leveraging social media to distribute it – or better yet, to allow your audience to share and comment – proves better than spending precious production dollars on “visceral.”

Quote #2: “we know this because the user’s key word searches show the exact intent”

Response: Consumers are searching for information and rich content not keywords. We’ve compiled a database of over 70,000 searches and found that what people are looking for is never exactly what you think. They are not searching for camera ads when they type “how to photograph babies.” What they need is a credible expert teaching them, not your neighbor next door shooting homemade video in his garage. Unless he is a photography guru. People want information from people they can trust. They’ll look to their network (thank you social media), and then they look to Google. So, just placing your ads based on keywords is not really getting you at a deep level of intent. You have to study the intent first and create content based on it.

Quote #3: “easy for advertisers to create a perfect synergy of ad creative, media, and data”

Response: Making it easier for consumers to find great content should be every marketers goal online. We used to say it all the time in the early days of the web: Content is King! Somewhere along the way, we forgot what content was. Either that, or the people defining what content is changed. Now, content is whatever drives advertising revenue – more specifically, it is whatever is getting the clicks that I will get paid for. Or in the case of the quotes above, it is about targeting a keyword and delivering a contextual ad beside the content that the “user” is actually searching for. Keyword context is a topic in and of itself. The bigger issue here is that we are lifting print advertising strategies and porting them to the web. Lay my ad beside great content, and voila! Awareness, Trial, Conversion and Loyalty ensue.

So, what to do? Be the content.

How? Three quick ideas:

  1. Understand Your Strengths. If you are a brand marketer, then you have subject matter expertise in your product category. In fact, there’s a problem if you don’t. Brands spend millions of dollars on R&D and research on their categories. This accumulated knowledge is great fodder for content, and it will put you in a new position with your consumers. One of thought leader and not just advertiser. But to do this right, you need to know the boundaries of your brand. Where do you have permission with your consumers? What will they listen to you about? The only way to find this out is to begin to wade in.

  2. Learn What They Are Searching For. The first step of wading in is to listen. The best place to listen is in search. How are they searching your category? It is the rare brand that is searched for by name. Most brands are found online because of related, often complex and indirect, search strings. Digging into this data is the only way to really learn what interests your current and potential audience. Seeing how and where they are searching will give you crystal clear guidance in developing your library of video content.

  3. Land In The Center Of The Page. Once you’ve created this content-rich, HD-quality video content, you’ll need to distribute it. That’s what the video sharing sites are for, right? Wrong. Well, kinda wrong. Video sharing sites are great. Many (like YouTube) deliver a lot of traffic (if you know how to optimize for their quirky search world), but often the smaller sites (i.e. everyone else) don’t deliver the audience. To get to the audience, you have to build a distribution network of publisher sites that will license your videos (for free) and run them as content (for free) on their sites. Then when your audience is searching, they will find this content regardless of where they tend to look. And you will be in the center of the page where content lives, not banished to the rim of the page with the ads.

Becoming content savvy is critical for marketers in the current media landscape. It takes some work, but it delivers great results. Let us know your success (or horror) stories. How are you winning with online video content?

Consumers and Brands Demand (higher quality) Media

An IPO is on the horizon.  Demand Media will be going public! The online video world is all “a-twitter” (one of my mother’s iconic phrases rendered senseless by the modern era).  Instead, the online video world is “abuzz.” Should we sell our shares in Apple and try to get in?  Or should we “head for The Hills”?  (sorry mom, there goes another good one).

The argument for running the other way has a lot to do with this question:  does Demand Media make junk content, or do they make real content?   Is it spam, or isn’t it?  Let’s skip the argument about whether Demand Media’s content de-values journalism and degrades writers…that’s a whole other debate that many have covered.

If Demand Media makes real content, then their model is brilliant.  In the big, unfettered picture, here’s how that model works:

  1. Figure out what people are searching for.

  2. Pay nickels to have people write articles answering those questions, and pay a couple more nickels (but not a whole quarter) to have people make videos answering those questions

  3. Optimize like crazy so consumer queries result in Page One exposure for the content in search results

  4. Send those click-throughs to eHow (mostly) to read (or occasionally watch) the content that satisfies their query

  5. Create a ton of traffic on eHow as a result, generating a boatload of media impressions

  6. Collect the ad money that inevitably shows up whenever a media outlet succeeds in collecting a sufficient volume of eyeballs

  7. Charge more for the eyeballs than the nickels it took to make the content that brought them there

  8. Do it all day long until your site and your brand name stands for a reliable, trustworthy place for consumers to get information

  9. Therefore….and here’s the real kicker…with that eHow brand name standing for trust, reliability, and credibility, attract quality, big brand advertisers who, as a rule, insist on placing their advertising solely in high quality, credible environments.

Maybe you noticed that Steps 1 through 7 seemed pretty easy…lots of companies can do that and in fact, many are trying.  But then you get to Steps 8 and 9 and the bar suddenly gets reallyhigh because consumers and the advertisers set that bar, not press releases.

Demand Media sprang forth from eNom, which is still 40% of the company’s revenue.  eNom is a domain registration company that makes money from “errant clicks.”   Mistype a domain name, land on one of those content-empty sites filled with referrals of where you might really want to click, and Demand makes a nickel.  Interesting heritage for a “content” company now filling the web with articles that cost less than $6 to make and videos that cost less than $50.

Does Demand Media make content?  Or is Demand Media propagating a giant spam play?  Don’t ask them, ask the consumer if they trust what they find there, and ask brands if they find it to be a suitable advertising environment. Because at the end of the day, it will be consumer engagement and brand sponsorship that will make or break their model.

As for Mom’s iconic phrases? Well, it turns out that people don’t care for spam of any variety.

Online video isn’t just for advertising – is it?

It's interesting that the only conversation about online video – at least in the marketing community – seems to center around online video advertising. A recent TechCrunch article called it “a frenzy of growth” quoting the CEO of an online video advertising network. They are seeing “TV dollars pour in” as he put it.

A couple of interesting points to all of this:

1. The growth in percent is double digit, but it’s off a very low base. The dollars pouring in, at least according to the eMarketer forecasts in the same article, will not even eclipse banner advertising (the web’s equivalent of print) in the next 4 years. And search? They don’t project it to be less than half the size of search – the web’s defacto ad unit.

2. All of the conversation seems to be about porting TV dollars into the web. This is fine because it is a much more measurable and targeted medium. But why are we porting the same interruption strategy and tactics along with it? Putting your ads into the rim of the page, or worse yet, as pre/mid/post-roll on the page is only going to interrupt a “leaning forward” audience way more than it does the “lean back” TV audience.

3. The Ad dollars ARE going to go to one of the Top 10 Networks. That’s because the dollar scale is so much smaller on the web than it is on TV. It is easy to eat up a $10MM budget on TV advertising, but that is a fortune to spend online. This means that companies insisting on the same old strategy (i.e. TV advertising) they are going to find limited inventories and crowding at the top 2 or 3 ad networks, and a lack of scale on the rest.

There is a better way.

People are actively searching for content online, and much of the content they are consuming is video. Even with growth of broadband slowing recently, it is still in two thirds of US homes, and with 3g and now 4g mobile expansion will see video continue to grow. But we need to create videos that people are searching for, and we need to get them to the sites that deliver quality content.

Content lives in the center of the page, and content is the information that I am searching for. And people are not searching for ads. Okay, they are looking for funny ads or SuperBowl ads, but these little snacks are not considered content. It’s just something to make a friend smile.

Technologies like AdMuncher are springing up to help me avoid advertising. The computer’s ability to rid my content of ads is much greater than my TV’s. Pop-up blockers are standard on all modern web browsers now.

When brands start creating content about the categories where they have expertise, then we’ll see a real frenzy of activity. But those TV dollars won’t go to the ad networks because there are hundreds of thousands of publishers with audiences looking for great video content. They are just waiting for someone to give it to them.