2016: The Year “Video Marketing” Becomes “Marketing”

Dispelling Two Major Myths About Video Marketing: Short Videos Rule and Creativity Doesn’t Matter

When I was a young boy growing up in Michigan, I had an endearing neighbor named Guy. Guy was a retired ambulance driver who sold promotional items part time. The three things I most enjoyed about Guy were (1) he told great stories, (2) he gave me all of his old promotional samples (I had a lifetime supply of pens imprinted with “Your Name Here”) and (3) he would regularly take me fishing.

I’d like to challenge marketers (myself included) to step up your game when it comes to producing online videos.

I remember one special outing when we were in a small boat on Sanford Lake fishing for yellow perch. It was one of those magical moments when we happened to run into a school swimming past the boat, and immediately began catching fish after fish. In the midst of all of the excitement, I happened to drop my line in the water before I could rebait the hook. When I pulled the line out of the water, I was surprised to discover that I had caught another fish — without bait. I guess this particular fish didn’t want to lose out to one of his dozens of competitors, so he literally went after anything that moved. In this case, it was a bare hook.

Device recording at concert - Best in video marketing 2015

As marketers, we too are sometimes caught up in the feeding frenzy that we see around us. Instinctively, we go after that shiny object that pops in front of our nose. Like the overzealous yellow perch from my story above, we run the risk of making an unfortunate choice, largely because everyone else around us is doing it. Simply put, we don’t want to miss out. This type of behavior is referred to as “herd mentality” and we’ve all been susceptible to it countless times throughout our lives. The upside of herd mentality is that there can be wisdom in crowds. The downside of course is that what’s good for everyone else may not be good for you (or your brand).

On Repeat: This Is the Year of Video Marketing 

I believe a certain amount of herd mentality is occurring with video marketing today. Earlier this year in an informative infographic, HighQ declared 2015 “The Year of Video Marketing.” Imagine the panic after reading this headline. CMOs everywhere shouting, “This is the year of video marketing — we need videos now!” Like the momentum of the North Dakota oil boom, thousands of brands started uploading hundreds of hours’ worth of content every day. I’m sure they were thinking, “This is the year of video marketing. How could we not strike oil?” But apparently it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Billions of dollars were spent, but the result was low views, reflecting low interest. So low, in fact, that viewers started actively trying to block unwanted video content through various means.

Old film rolls - Best in video marketing 2015

Does this mean all is lost? Should we abandon our online video efforts? Of course not. But rather than continuing to pump out content all willy-nilly, we should make certain that our online video strategy is an integral part of the overall marketing plan. Think about it. We don’t do “photography marketing” or “copy marketing.” Why are we treating video marketing as an independent activity? But beyond applying a more integrated approach to online video, we must make certain that the content is relevant to our audience. Do these videos contain valuable information? Are they entertaining? Are they remarkable?

Top-notch creativity still rules the day.

While there are numerous brands that have done a great job integrating online video into their marketing mix, I think that Samsung Mobile’s efforts rise to the top. With 1.4 million subscribers and 646 million views, Samsung Mobile’s YouTube channel is one of the highest-watched brands (excluding entertainment and media brands).  Matter of fact, the Galaxy S6 launch video ranked eighth on YouTube’s Top Trending Ads for 2015 list. And Samsung Mobile is one of the few brands consistently appearing on the Advertising Age Viral Video Chart with videos placing on the top 10 list 15 times in the past six months. The ranking in the Viral Video Chart is based on a process called True Reach, which aggregates view counts across multiple platforms and across multiple instances, including user-uploaded copies and derivatives.

Samsung Mobile’s Platform-Specific Strategy

Samsung launched the Galaxy S6 earlier this year with an expansive marketing strategy that included broadcast, digital, experiential, out-of-home, retail, and product placement on a whole lot of television shows. Samsung, like several brands, produces spots that play on broadcast as well as digital, and they’re also featured and promoted through social media. I think they do a great job of creating and optimizing content for each of the major platforms — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine — and have a presence on many other platforms as well. Rather than forcing content to fit different-shaped containers, they leverage the strengths of each platform to create a unified story. And naturally, they really understand the importance of mobile and optimizing content for it.

YouTube on screen - Best in video marketing 2015

While researching Samsung Mobile and other brands that have successfully made video an effective part of their marketing efforts, I discovered data that contradicts some of the popular thinking surrounding online videos. For the sake of argument, let’s call these “myths,” two of which I’d like to dispel.

Myth 1: The Shorter, the Better

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the axiom “the shorter, the better” when it comes to the length of online videos, I’d have stacks and stacks of Washingtons. The real truth is, people will watch something that is hours long if it interests them (just ask James Cameron). When it comes to branded online videos, it’s pretty common to see videos on the Viral Video Chart that are three to four minutes long or even longer. Samsung Mobile periodically uploads product and how-to videos that are two to eight minutes long that have tens of millions of views. Shorter is better only when your content sucks. Lesson: Don’t make sucky content.

Myth 2: Creativity Doesn’t Matter

While brands might be urged to “Just do it” and pump out homegrown videos, top-notch creativity still rules the day. In 2010, Ipsos ASI analyzed its global advertising database and found that “creative quality accounts for about three-quarters of variance when explaining differences in ad recall levels.” Samsung understands this and has enlisted the help of top creative agencies such as 72andSunny. You might have an in-house staff that is super talented. If so — good for you. For the rest of you, seek out partnerships with agencies and production companies that can deliver the goods. Lesson: Don’t make sucky content.

The real truth is, people will watch something that is hours long if it interests them.

For 2016, I’d like to challenge marketers (myself included) to step up your game when it comes to producing online videos. Consider how each video will support your marketing strategy. Even if a particular video doesn’t directly relate to a specific campaign, is it consistent with your brand voice? And most importantly, is it relevant? Will this video help consumers along their purchase journey, informing or amusing them along the way? I would encourage you to take some time and check out Samsung Mobile’s videos as well as other brands that find themselves on Advertising Age’s Viral Video Chart.

Best of luck with your 2016 marketing plan, and remember: Don’t make sucky content.

Photos: Shutterstock

Dennis Balgavy

Dennis Balgavy

Dennis Balgavy is a serial career changer: audio recording, product development, marketing communications, IT, research, video production, web development, and writing—and, oh, yeah, there was that time he flipped hamburgers.

Meet Dennis Balgavy