How You Can Take Advantage of the Online Video Trend Online video never stopped being a legitimate marketing tool. Here are two things your startup should do.

By Derek Newton

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Every day seems to bring another way to market online: mobile, content, video, search, display/banner, sponsor and on and on. One of those, online video, is now back.

Related: 3 Secrets to Online Video Success

Your first reaction may be something like: Online video? How five years ago! But it's actually about to make a big comeback. In fact, when you really look at what's happening online and in online marketing, online video clearly never really left.

According to the latest report of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), only two types of online advertising have grown in revenue every year since 2010: mobile advertising and online video. But online video has shown marketing revenue growth every year since 2006 -- something no other online ad medium has done, not even SEO or mobile. Digital video still represents a tiny portion of online advertising -- about 7 percent -- but video and mobile are the only segments which, percentage-wise, grew last year.

Increased spending on online video is likely to continue and accelerate because, as marketers spend more to get their ads to play in front of videos, editors and publishers need more video to sell ads around. That's great for platforms such as CNN and ESPN that produce their own video. But it means that other platforms with major audiences will need good video, too.

The twin forces of advertising's growing investment in video and the need for more of it are creating opportunities for your online marketing plans, especially if you run a startup. So, here's what you should be doing to take advantage of the trend:

1. Buy ads around online video now.

While you may not be able to afford an in-house agency to analyze media spending trends, or drop $25,000 a month on a New York mega-firm, keep this in mind: Big online advertisers usually aren't stupid. Spending on online video has been steadily growing because those who can afford in-house experts and ad firms are seeing (no pun intended) a return on that investment. It would be smart to learn from their decade of spending and learning.

Moreover, as content providers push to put more video online, online consumption habits will follow. The action/reaction cycle is real: People watch videos, content producers make more videos and more people watch videos. Since videos aren't platform-dependent (mobile versus desktop), the trend toward increased engagement is likely to only accelerate.

So, whatever your ad and marketing budget, think about buying ads around video content now -- before the big boys and girls with national brands inflate the prices. If you lock in a yearlong contract now, you could be a real genius in six months.

Related: How to Create a Successful DIY Video on a Budget

ProTip: If you have any budget at all, spend the money to bring in an experienced ad production team. Buying ad time to show bad, cheaply made ads is like buying cut-rate gas for your expensive Italian sports car.

2. Produce video.

For the more ambitious and/or those with PR experts who can coordinate the project, the online video marketing trend can be a goldmine for those able to produce video.

If your startup or established business features a legitimate expert, rather than pitching this person to reporters for a comment on breaking news, consider recording a well-produced 20- or 30-second video comment and pitching that to online editors. Or, if you have clients or partners with high-impact, emotional stories, consider getting them on camera to tell those stories.

Imagine the earned PR and visibility your business could score by striking a video-content deal with a major trade publication. A good PR firm can not only help your company do the shooting, editing and placing, it can help you identify opportunities, too.

ProTip: If you're going to try your hand at producing video content, don't "sell." Few, if any, online editors will take video that even smells of self-promotion. If you won't watch it yourself, no one else will either, and you're likely wasting your time.

Related: 5 Common YouTube Advertising Mistakes

Derek Newton

NYC based communications and public relations professional

Derek Newton is a communications expert and writer based in New York City. He has been working in nonprofit, political and policy communications for more than 20 years and helped launch several startups. 

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