Creating clever, innovative and engaging digital video seems like an ideal to strive for, but there are risks. Even high-quality content might simply not find an audience, and the audience might not want to spend precious time (or bandwidth) watching it.
The videos I refer to are, specifically, brand-related video campaigns, whose competitors on social media networks and video platforms – such as the primary player, YouTube – are not necessarily branded or scripted at all.
As of December 2011, according to Google Zeitgeist, these three videos were the most watched YouTube videos in South Africa:
These videos are now considered viral, in the definitive sense that they’ve garnered millions of views from mass sharing via social media. Consider that the second-most-viewed video here is a branded campaign – a tremendous achievement. I make this statement with this Co.Create Infographic burned into my subconscious – individuals who work in advertising are likely to have an inflated perception of how closely the average consumer follows brands on social networks. For example, 71% of marketing professionals say they pay constant attention to brand posts in the Facebook news feed, versus 23% of the general population.
Web Video - Sharing Is Crucial
In an online space, brand information in video form is simply not enough. The success of web videos comes down to this: how likely is it that Internet users share the content?
The audience is by no means a captive one – just like a television commercial’s audience – and there are millions of web distractions available at the viewer’s fingertips, poised to steal attention. So content, as king, must engage and retain attention.
Beware The Fickle Web User
How many tabs do you have open right now? More than a few would be my bet.
Today’s Internet user is unforgiving, impatient, and very easily distracted. They are the content connoisseurs, and they are constrained by time and bandwidth – out of South Africa’s 6.8 million Internet users, 2.48 million South Africans use only their mobile phones to access the Internet (Internet World Stats, December 2011).
There are 820,000 ADSL lines in use in South Africa. This means that the overwhelming majority of South Africans do not have unlimited Internet access, and are inclined to be extremely discerning in what they view and share online.
Additionally, it is unwise to assume that web video is a priority. Returning again to Google Zeitgeist’s published trends of 2011, in South Africa, the top four searches of the year were:
- Rugby World Cup
- Royal Wedding
Web Video – The Benefit Is In The Visibility
Web video is exciting, and tempting. It is becoming increasingly easy and affordable to produce quality videos, and to make use of unique YouTube innovations such as annotations to further enhance viewer engagement, and spur social sharing.
Videos can be engineered to be interactive, or even treated as a game, offering the viewer choice and customisation. Internet videos are so much cooler than TV commercials. So, why wouldn’t you want to make one?
Because, as exciting as these opportunities are, web videos risk doing more harm than good to a brand if they are the sole communicators to a data-restricted, mobile-browsing audience.
Make good videos, yes, but make sure your audience is exposed to those good videos. Do this by understanding your market and placing video offerings where they can benefit from unhindered visibility. Done right, your video, and therefore brand, should soon be enjoying unsurpassed engagement.