In the ever-changing fast-paced world of digital, social and mobile communications, complete with 24-hour news cycles and Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat et al reinventing the publishing model, we will see video communications for brands and services become mission critical as newsfeeds become overcrowded and result in reduced engagement over time. This, combined with ad blocking in various forms, means that businesses need to focus on quality content, and services with “fewer, bigger, better” video-first ads that offer a powerful combination of superior audience targeting, engaging creative, and user interaction.
Shows like CES this year have changed the game plan again, launching new technologies and new platforms like Peach, which means that entrepreneurs can be left scratching their heads, wondering what this is all about, and how they can best catch up. If you haven’t heard already, video is the single biggest content format that all businesses need to get familiar with in 2016.
Video has become popular with people because it’s easy to consume. It’s an engaging and easily digestible format that comes in all shapes and sizes. 2015 by itself was a busy year in video marketing: in July, YouTube announced that 400 hours of video were being uploaded to the site every minute, and in November, Facebook announced that they are generating eight billion video views per day.
According to Tubular Labs, 654.7 million videos have been uploaded by 66.7 million creators in the last year to more than 30 video platforms. And these videos have 2.8 trillion views, or an average of 4,390 views per video. But that’s old news. What does the future of video marketing look like? And how should you understand what’s best to deliver effective video marketing on your corporate websites, social platforms, and online ads?
VIDEO CONSUMPTION IN MENA
What’s driving increasing consumption here in the Middle East is the fact that you can easily watch video on the go on mobile platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, and in a mobile-first market, this is very important for businesses to understand. According to IPSOS MENA’s 2015 Digital Audiences in MENA report, video features in the top four activities in KSA and UAE on desktop and mobile.
YouTube clocked in the top three favorite websites to use on either your phone or at home to consume video content in both markets. We are also seeing a huge shift from TV viewing to online viewing, and from broadcast viewing to digital viewing. Channels like Netflix, ICFlix and StarzPlay will only continue to grow in the region as Smart TVs grow, and people’s habits change to become more dependent on their online platforms.
However, what is surprising is that there is such a small pool of ‘creators’ for this format. Video marketing in MENA is still in its infancy in the region, when we compare it to developed markets like the U.S. and Europe. Despite the huge popularity of digital viewing platforms like YouTube here in the region, there has been very little investment of time and effort in building video content.
We tend to see the same handful of vloggers in the Middle East, and not all of them are producing quality content. So, I predict that this year, like Netflix, we will find a lot of filmmakers and directors shifting their business models from the typical big budget productions and cinema to an increased focus on filmmaking and then streaming via online channels. This, of course, will help support and grow the premium content side in the Middle East, which is vital.
For me, this provides brands and companies with a huge opportunity. We know that people want to consumer digital entertainment whether that’s music, content about people, or blogs through this medium. The demand is massive on mobile video for brands to deliver entertainment through this channel.
10 KEY LEARNINGS TO DELIVER EFFECTIVE VIDEO MARKETING FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Online video has become the new opportunity for brands to really provide them with what they’re looking for– be it entertainment, information or utility, this medium is changing the way we engage with customers and drive business results. There are a few ways that I believe companies, whether large or small, can become really smart video producers. It doesn’t necessarily require huge production budgets (although that is a nice to have).
1. PLAN VIDEO AS PART OF OVERALL COMMUNICATIONS
In the new era of video first where you can produce 360-degree immersive video for your restaurant or hotel, it is important to get the basics right, and that means you need to start with a plan and a plan to invest both time, effort and some money into this highly effective way to sell.
Video storytelling over time requires thought, planning, management, creation, production, deployment, analysis of what is resonating, amplification through smart media activation, and fan/influencer programs. It sounds daunting, but the rewards can be huge. Find out what you want your video stories to do for your business, and then you can plan more efficiently. Already in 2016, we can see a departure from the normal strategy of including a non-sports star in fitness/health messaging campaigns. The release of Kevin Hart’s Training: Inner Strength video is really impressive, and his attitude and his drive are very inspiring.
2. BE SOCIAL
Rest assured, if you aren’t maintaining a strong online social presence, it’s likely that your competitor is. Find the websites and social networks your audience hangs out, and dedicate some time (yourself or somebody else) to developing a voice in that arena. You don’t need to be everywhere; you just need to be somewhere relevant. Choose which social networks you plan to utilize, and then create a library of great content that genuinely engages with those that matter most. The BBC has taken this one step further by developing a mobile app that analyzes music listening habits, and asks questions about users’ personalities.
Paired with age and gender info, the resulting personal profile automatically tailors the short film to the perceived preferences of the viewer. For example, the action may be different in some scenes, one character may get more screen time than another, and certain scenes may be cut altogether. Storyline and direction aside, the whole appearance of a shot can be altered with different color grading, and the film’s score takes cues from your music tastes. I know this might sound a bit in the realm of Star Trek, but the principle for you and your business remain the same– try and make sure you spend enough time getting to know your customer well enough to tailor the content and the platform you choose to their habits and behaviors.
3. HAVE A GIGGLE- ENTERTAIN PEOPLE!
Why is Netflix one of the most successful new brands of our time? Because it delivers entertaining content to us when we want it, how we want it, ad free! If you apply a similar approach to your video content creation in that you want to entertain, inform, delight or excite your viewers you won’t go wrong. If you want some inspiration, then the Emirates Benfica Safety Video campaign is a great example of how to make people laugh.
Another way to get your customer’s attention is by posting tutorials. Tutorials help viewers by offering them valuable information, and those who have benefited from them will more likely check your brand again. Over time, it creates trust and helps establish you as an expert in the industry. The secret to keep your audience engaged? Make them wonder what happens at the end of the video. Look no further than the queen of tutorials in the UAE, Huda Kattan, for an exemplary showcase of how you can turn how-to’s into a multimillion dollar business.
5. OPTIMIZE YOUR VIDEO FOR SEARCH
Don’t let your hard work go to waste. You can make the most out of your video marketing campaign by optimizing your content for search. Just like plain text, video can be optimized for search engines. In fact, search engines favor video content over written content. The best way to impact your search ranking using video marketing is to use transcriptions. You can unlock content in videos by making it available to search engines using indexing and including transcriptions in the HTML of the pages where the videos are on. A well-optimized video will get people into your channel and deliver traffic.
6. EXPLORE APP MARKETING WITH VIDEOS
There has been a seismic shift in the way users utilize mobile apps. Whether it’s music, games or entertainment, people are spending more time consuming content on apps, driving superior engagement and value for businesses. Get the best of both worlds by utilizing video to allow your audience to get a glimpse of what your app is about.
7. EXPERIMENT WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY
360-degree video and shooting in 4K might sound scary, but there are plenty of really fantastic agencies (like ours) that can create this type of video content for you, if you feel your story warrants the investment. For some inspiration from the masters of video storytelling, I would strongly recommend you take a look at Red Bull’s Kaleidoscope. It is literally the best piece of film work I have seen in over five years.
8. BE AUTHENTIC TO YOUR CORE BUSINESS VALUES
Let your communication be a reflection of your voice and those within your business. The adage, ‘people buy from people,’ still rings true, and nothing is more effective than watching real people with real stories. Develop a content library that helps clients understand your business, how you operate, what you believe in, and meets the people that make up your team.
Remember to budget properly. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s cheaper, or that you can get away with a bad job under UGC. On the contrary, you should, wherever possible, make significant investment in quality production to explore innovative methods in video creation such as 360, VR, interactive video.
10. KEY MARKETING PRINCIPLES REMAIN IN PLACE
Finally, video marketing is still marketing- the principles remain the same. Create great ideas, which will make people either like, comment or share– if they don’t, then they won’t be successful. Start with listening, understanding, planning; develop a list of what you want to say, decide how best to say it (what format you can produce and whether the story makes sense in that format) and finally develop a strategy of how you intend on getting it out there, then ask your communications team or PR agency to support you. They’re the masters at storytelling regardless of platform, and can probably help you and your business get started on this front.
KEY VIDEO FORMATS YOU SHOULD KNOW
LIVESTREAMING Driven mainly by the ‘raw’ social platforms like Periscope, we are seeing some fascinating innovation from brands on product launches, interactive experiences and events using this format. Doritos launched a new product called “Roulette” chips on Periscope and drove engagement across Twitter and Vine.
360-DEGREE VIDEO 360-degree video gives your customers the best immersive experience they can have without being there. For a great example of how powerful this can be, check out the wonderful Google/Jumeirah Inside partnership that produced the immersive Burj Al Arab experience.
SHORT-FORM Short-form videos are pretty simple in their premise- these can be of six seconds or longer. But this form of storytelling requires as much planning as a three-minute video, if they are to be compelling. Check out Intel’s vine platform for a masterclass in short-form video storytelling.
VLOGGERS If you’re looking for partners to work with on quality video content creation, check out Disney’s Makers Studio local to you. They have access to some of the best local and international talent who understand the medium and the audiences they’re trying to reach.
USER GENERATED CONTENT (UGC) Users are now making and sharing video. Savvy brands are harnessing this behavior and ‘raw’ talent to help shape their own brand stories. Burberry’s Art of the Trench is a wonderful example of this.