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Why You Should Be Using Online Videos In Your Marketing Strategy

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Written By: Heidi Cohen

Online video is white hot. It's being used in many ways and delivered anywhere your target audience is. The U.S. election was a watershed mark for streaming video in terms of the length of time and number of viewers. Marketers should be device indifferent since users may view your content on mobile devices, computers, and flat-screen televisions.

To better understand the state of online video, consider the following:

  • Almost 80 percent of U.S. Internet users watched videos for roughly five hours in December 2008, with an average duration of 3.2 minutes per video, according to comScore.
  • 65 percent of online video views were streamed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, making this video primetime due to the faster Internet connections available at work, reported Nielsen Online.
  • In 2009, online video advertising is projected to grow 45 percent to $850 million, according to eMarketer's latest forecast.
  • 5 percent of mobile subscribers accessed mobile video on their phones each month, according to Nielsen in its Q3 2008 Mobile Video Report.
  • About one-third of online retailers offer video on their sites, according to Vovici Corp.'s September 2008 research for Internet Retailer.

Online Video's Five Subject Categories

Consider your target market's needs when creating online video content because they can have a major impact on the video's optimal length and its shelf life. An SIIA Information Industry Summit panel advised attendees to think about whether their audience snacks on short videos or engages with longer formats. Here are five popular types of video content you can use:

  • News, including weather: Viewers often look for short tidbits to be informed about what's happening in their world. Think about the type of news most relevant to your target audience.
  • Sports: Typically, these videos consist of clips highlighting a single sports play where the audience is highly engaged.
  • How-to and research information: Viewers often look for answers to specific questions, so make it easy for your videos to be found. This content can be evergreen.
  • Entertainment, including comedy, music, TV shows, clips, and movies: Everyone looks for fun diversions. While entertaining content can be short, users are also watching longer formats, such as complete television shows and movies.
  • Social media, including user-generated content: These videos often focus on humor.

Eight Ways to Use Online Video

Regardless of whether you're a retailer, media company, or brand marketer, think holistically about how to incorporate video into your communications strategy. Here are eight ways to use online video to extend your marketing mix:

  • Extend news coverage and other media events. While established brands like CNN dominate, any Web site can create its own channel.
  • Provide product-related information to aid use, including how-to for complex products that require training or further help. For example, Janome sewing machines partnered with Threadbanger.
  • Create videos for product placement. Develop or partner with a video series that highlights your product and engages your target market, like Starburst has done with Nite Fite.
  • Portray products in a real environment to help customers experience the product without seeing it in person. Extend your Web site to give customers a more retail-like environment.
  • Show real customers giving their honest reactions, like an infomercial.
  • Sponsor an ongoing video series created by a third party to associate your brand with special personalities or other brands, such as Degree's integration with TMI Weekly's Little Black Dress episode.
  • Extend other forms of content you're already creating, such as Webinars, analyst presentations, and quarterly meetings.
  • Use video to connect with remote staff or customers.

Keep in mind that you need to drive traffic to your videos. Matt Cutler, VP, marketing and analytics of Visible Measures, suggests releasing related videos at the same time and cross-promoting them to help concentrate views over a short period to optimize distribution of related videos. The goal is to help your video reach top-viewed status that increases video views.

Four Ways Online Video Contributes to Profitability

Media companies, brands, and e-tailers can benefit from using online video. Here's how it can add to the bottom line:

  • Advertising vehicle: From a consumer perspective, quantity and length are an issue. Product placement and sponsorship are other ways to create revenue on media sites.
  • Paid products: Depending on the availability of the information or event, viewers may be willing to pay for downloads.
  • Product sales support: Retailers can gain by using videos to better illustrate product use prior to purchase and to support product use and community building after purchase.
  • Branding enhancement: You can enhance branding through the use of online videos that engage viewers, like the Blendtec blender videos.

Seven Online Video Metrics

To ensure that online video meets your marketing goals, track the following factors to ensure you're on track:

  • Viewers: How many people have seen your video? What's the pass-along rate? Is it going viral?
  • Views and Time: How many times are the videos viewed? How much of each one is viewed?
  • Interaction: Since online videos tend to drive user interaction, assess comments for frequency and content and watch how viewers are using the video to create mashups and the like.
  • Branding: Have your branding metrics improved as a result of online video use?
  • Revenues: How have the videos helped support sales in terms of supplying direct identifiable sales leads or adding to the prepurchase research phase? Also, consider whether videos have helped reduce returns through post-purchase support.
  • Costs: What is the expense of developing the video and related Web site support? How does this compare to the benefits you are realising?

As online video evolves, there are bigger audiences to be had and increasingly more exciting ways to get their attention. The cost of creating and serving video has come down. It is time to get creative by using video to extend your marketing reach and complement your marketing plan.

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