eChat: Video Marketing Trends
Melissa: Thanks for taking the time to participate in our eChat on video marketing. How do you use video marketing at your companies? Can you offer some examples?
Alex: We are a digital ad agency, so we use it all the time for our clients, [which include] Toyota, Sony, Universal. For our entertainment clients, we have been using video for many, many years. But larger, more traditional brands (like Toyota) have just started to adopt the usage of videos. For Toyota, we work quite a bit with Scion (its youth brand). We have used it mostly as a lifestyle branding tool.
Steve: We use several approaches. We tape and circulate presentations from guest speakers -- like [business guru] Al Ries, [commentator] David Weinberger and [Internet critic] Andrew Keen -- and we also tape segments for our clients as well as promotional pieces for ourselves. Grabbing eyeballs is the second part of the equation.
Joslin: We use online video specifically to a) address a couple of unique marketing opportunities (reaching geographically displaced fans; reducing fan myopia); b) promote our games, players and licensed merchandise; and c) call to action (e.g., "tune in tonight to see ... " or "visit Shop.NHL.com").
Marwan: First off, a quick introduction to eBillme. We are a payment option on the Web that enables consumers and small businesses to shop online and pay directly from their online banking. It works just like paying a phone bill. Given that we are a Web-based payment option, we do a lot of work leveraging social media to generate market awareness. So we use video for marketing in different ways. One way is brand awareness and advertising. For example, check out www.shopandconfess.com. People submit videos of things they have bought and kept secret. Then, they go to this site and confess about these purchases or indulgences. [We then choose winners.]
We also use videos as icebreakers with prospects; for public relations, promoting the contest in the local media where the winners are; and for SEO and link building.
Steve: Alex, are you buying space to place those videos or marketing virally -- depending on "free" circulation?
Alex: At Toyota Financial Services, we have used video-based tutorials for customers to orient themselves within a site, its features, etc. At Scion, we have done most of it here: www.scion.com/broadband. We designed and built this location initially as a place for all of the video [Scion was] naturally amassing over the past few years, but it became much more. And we then turned to licensing and production of content for the "channel" itself. Ultimately, we will be integrating this broadband video site into Scion.com.
Steve: We also use the video on social-networking sites -- to support entities that we develop for companies. We had a very successful summer with Genny Golf -- a female golfer who was the mouthpiece for Buji, a consumer products company targeting the golf community [with poison ivy protection and relief products].
Marwan: All our videos are user-generated/submitted. They are all based on YouTube, Facebook and Flickr at the moment.
Alex: Marwan, what are the instructions to the providers of that content?
Marwan: Thirty-second to one-minute videos. They are usually confessions about things they have bought and kept secret. Content is video-based plus text submissions plus pictures. We have all kinds of stories submitted. Some of the videos made it to the front page of YouTube, and some were picked up by national media.
Alex: That is great. Who determined the winner? The audience or did you have a panel?
Marwan: Both. We had judges, and part of the criteria is how popular the video is on YouTube.
Alex: How many people actually submitted videos?
Marwan: About 80 videos were submitted.
Joslin: Interestingly, we have found that our new video initiatives -- we launched the NHL Network Online in April -- have helped reverse historic Web traffic trends. Most years, we see a leveling off of Web traffic as the season winds down and teams are eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoffs contention. This year, with a new broadband media environment, we actually experienced an uptick in Web traffic. So we are seeing that Web video has the ability to engage and hold fan attention as never before.
Steve: So the Internet saved hockey!
Melissa: That's interesting, Joslin. How do you use the video exactly?
Joslin: In the context of the NHL Network Online ... we think of it as putting a "TV box" around our video content. The NHL is unique among the major sports in that we control all of our digital rights, and we have taken our video and programmed seven channels. So, we have a game highlights channel, a podcast channel, "The Hockey Show," LIVEWIRE (live events) and so forth. No longer are we simply populating a video player with content and having fans search for what they want. Instead, we are programming our content so fans spend more time engaged with content (and, by extension, our sponsors' branding and messages) and less time just surfing around.
But interestingly for us, we have two unique marketing opportunities. First, our data shows that anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent of our fans are geographically displaced, meaning they live outside the [designated market area] of their favorite team (i.e., Detroit fans living in Seattle). Video helps us connect those fans with video content they might not otherwise be able to access.
The other unique challenge is what we call fan "myopia" or "tribalism." NHL fans are as passionate about their favorite teams as any other fan. However, NHL fans trend toward thinking and acting locally. We are using video to expose those fans to the exciting events taking place outside of their local markets. So they begin to talk at the water cooler about the great goal [Washington Capitals' Alexander] Ovechkin scored in Washington; the great save [Buffalo Sabres'] Ryan Miller made in Buffalo; and the huge hit [Calgary Flames'] Jarome Iginla threw in Calgary.
Alex: Joslin, what platform do you use for the videos?
Marwan: Joslin, do you track viewers to sales? What type of metrics do you track?
Joslin: Our video environment was developed by NeuLion. We are becoming much more sophisticated with our analytics.
Melissa: In your opinion, what are the key challenges to using video in your marketing mix?
Alex: Production is obviously an interesting fee for brands. They are not used to being in the position of being (in essence) studios. They have little to no familiarity with video production costs outside of commercials, and even then, they haven't had a ton of exposure to it since they are on the digital side.
Marwan: In our case, it is user-submitted videos. The biggest challenge is getting them to submit their stories. That is something we [haven't] been able to do.
Steve: The big question is making sure that the targeted population actually sees your video. Some of the most successful and most circulated videos look downright terrible. It's content first -- then quality. Nice if you have both, however.
Marwan: I agree with Steve. It needs to be an interesting story with an initial group that will view it. Then the ball gets rolling, and the video will have a life of its own.
Steve: Some of the most popular stuff being circulated is being shot with camera phones! Again -- it all starts with the right idea. Look at what the Japanese are doing. Production values take a back seat to story line.
Marwan: Steve makes a good point. The story gets lots of viewers sometimes, and it is shot on a webcam.
Joslin: I am not sure we are "challenged," per se, any more than any other large media company is. However, when you look at something like "The Hockey Show," which is a Web-only studio show that we now produce from our [New York City] headquarters. "The Hockey Show"isn't about stats and highlights -- it's behind-the-scenes, fun, edgy stuff. Doing a Web-only, daily studio show like this is unprecedented in sports and a huge undertaking. So the "challenge," if you will, is to mine all 30 of our clubs for the most interesting story lines, and to make sure we put those compelling stories in front of our fans -- first, whenever possible.
We program our video specifically for channels. So we may populate our YouTube page slightly differently than NHL Network Online based upon what we think fans expect to see at which channel.
Melissa: Can any of you offer our readers some best practices in terms of video marketing?
Alex: Don't jump right into the deep end. Take your time to feel out how to use it and how your audience will consume it.
Steve: Make sure it has something to do with your product, and make it funny or sexy - or both.
Marwan: Think about the concept first. The concept is the most important thing. It has to be unique, but simple. If the content is a repeat or variation of something that already exists, it will not do well. [Also] inject humor when possible, but [make sure it is] not gimmicky.
Joslin: Know the audience and program specifically for it. Focus on the consumer. What do they want to see? And then give it to them. And listen to feedback and your data, and always be improving.
Alex: Also, roll out the bells and whistles after you have established the concept of your video presence. In other words, it is nice to have full-screen video and send-to-a-friend and other fancy video add-ons. But, first focus on the concept and the platform.