There is so much innovation taking place in the video space, which makes it equal parts exciting to be a part of and exhausting to keep up with. It would seem to suggest that video marketing strategies should be rewritten every week.
For instance, here’s what occurred over a couple of days at the beginning of this month: Snapchat debuted 10-second video ads for 2 cents; Spotify’s plans to stream video in addition to music were revealed; and Reddit created a new video division. This comes just weeks after the launches of Vessel, an early-access, $3-a-month video service, and Periscope, Twitter’s new live-streaming app. What’s behind this hot streak of video innovation?
For one thing, it’s where the money is flowing. Video marketing is an arrow marketers are pulling from their quiver with greater frequency: In 2014, advertising spending on online video increased for the fifth consecutive year, and that trend is expected to continue this year. There’s a reason for that; video is an outstanding medium for building a brand.
A data analysis by Nielsen found that the moment a video is viewed (even before one second), significant lift occurs across ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase intent. Video is such a powerful delivery mechanism that it can build awareness within a second.
These are the metrics that are most meaningful to brands. However, too much emphasis is currently being placed on views. The view, or variations of it (e.g. loops in Vine), is a convenient, universal metric that gives an instant measure of how popular a video is. You should certainly care about them — but not very much. Views are a means to an end, and that end is building a brand.
If I were to rank the various video offerings for building a brand, it would go in the following order:
Going with Goliath might not be the unconventional answer you were hoping for, but YouTube is simply the best place on the Internet to build a brand using video. It’s not popular to go with the mainstream platform, but that’s exactly why you should — YouTube is where the most eyeballs and attention can be captured.
One of the best video marketing tools — and a huge reason why YouTube is No. 1 in my books — is YouTube’s TrueView In-Stream ads (i.e. the ads that play before a video that are skippable after 5 seconds). These ads count the view at 30 seconds and don’t charge you for anything less than that. If, as established, you can create significant lift across ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration within a second, think of how much stronger a connection you can build in 30 – and you don’t even have to pay for it.
For those viewers who do stick around long enough to make you pay for a view, you want to make sure they’re compelled to watch the whole video. My short rule for creating memorable content is: If you’re not laughing out loud at something that’s supposed to be funny or tearing up at something that’s supposed to be emotional, don’t publish it.
I’ll close with what we tell every company that works with us: Don’t rip up your video marketing strategy every time a new, shiny video service arrives. You’ll only end up with mediocre content and minimal impact if you spread yourself thin across every platform. It’s not sexy, but start and stick with YouTube.
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Facebook is next, but it’s a distant second. It’s easier to accumulate views on Facebook, since a view is registered after just three seconds. Facebook also auto-plays videos as they come up in someone’s News Feed, which has undoubtedly helped the company reach four billion native video views per day so quickly. That means, however, that a lot of the “views” are from those who aren’t engaged at all — even though, as research has indicated, that limited exposure can still drive lift.
While by this point we all expect an ad to precede a YouTube video, video still feels like a stranger to the News Feed. In my own experience, since I’m accustomed to static content when browsing Facebook, I typically brush by videos. Plus, the auto-play factor can make the video feel pushy and intrusive — two words you definitely don’t want associated with your brand. (YouTube recently updated the settings to have videos play automatically, but it’s one button press to turn it off — Facebook buries the auto-play toggle deep in its settings.)
What does Facebook have on YouTube? Better targeting. Facebook can go granular where YouTube can’t. For example, one of our clients needs to target people who are self-employed. On Facebook, you can target people who self-identify as self-employed. On YouTube, Google doesn’t know who self-identifies as self-employed. We have to target interests and topics that we believe will have a high number of self-employed people in them, but still there are people who aren’t self-employed who end up watching the ad.
Another reason why I’m bullish on Facebook is that it’s committed to building a solid video product and driving continual improvements, such as the just-announced (and long-overdue) embedding capability. If you need to go niche, Facebook can give you a hand, but it should always be in combination with a healthy YouTube presence.
In a tie for third are Snapchat, videos on Twitter or Instagram, Vine, Vessel, Vevo, Spotify, Reddit, Periscope and any other video offering or platform you can name.
Given viewers’ shortening attention spans, bite-size video has gained traction in marketing circles. But it’s just not worth being an early adopter on these platforms. Let other companies pay to make mistakes while you apply the lessons for free. Also, these more niche platforms simply can’t match the billions of people YouTube and Facebook reach.
Just because there are more video services than ever doesn’t mean you should be advertising on every one of them. Go where you’ll see the most value for building your brand. For now, that’s YouTube.
Jeff Davis is the CEO of Molio, a video marketing ad technology and branding company, and a former P&G executive.