I realised recently talking to Dan Creigh that some of the household words we use to describe web conferences are in fact proprietary brand names! Luckily Webinar isn’t one, so here’s a non-contentious clip of me and Darika Ahrens talking about how all the difficult rules of good web content still apply for London’s Bombora.tv:
Filed under: digital marketing, online video strategies
December 31, 2012 • 9:24 am
I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by a recent talk by someone with a fancypants innovation title in a major high street retail group. It sounded like ‘innovation’ was shorthand for’ interruption’. Tricks and charlatans do attract people to the fair, but circuses come and go and I doubt whether even Barnham and Baily worried about loyalty.
It’s obvious that few retail startups would invest in physical estate so if you’re running a big national retailer looking to give people a reason to come to your store, why not try some of these free ideas:
1. Get rid of the merchandising and turn your shop into a learning and discovery centre for customers. Make sure the wifi is free and the coffee good.
2. Bring other real world services people need under your roof – parcel collection, ID verification, childcare. Ann Summers could do with sex therapy what Boots did with dispensary services. And on a topical subject for today: it beats me why on earth banks haven’t cottoned on to offering free financial advice seminars and drop-in sessions.
3. Offer on-site repairs. Sending precious personal kit away for 2 weeks – or binning it altogether – is surely a thing of the past for commercial as well as environmental reasons.
4. Try paying twice as much for store staff and see whether this gives customers a reason to come in rather than trawl the abyss of opinions online.
5. Use mobile to bring the benefits of the web to the real-world that even heavy web users enjoy. But make sure the experience is beautifully crafted and the mobile experience truly value-adding.
6. Shut it all down and move online. Although a start-up, you’ll have the advantage of existing brand awareness and customer data. The poor people at Comet all lost their jobs in the end anyway- I wonder how many of them would still be employed if they’d cut-and-run online sooner.
Filed under: Uncategorized
September 20, 2012 • 12:08 pm
Video sitemaps are probably the most powerful free tool in online video – possibly in search engine marketing, given how much easier it is to get to page 1 of Google with a video compared to a web page.
Yet the majority of businesses who use video as part of their digital marketing aren’t bothering to index their videos on search engines. It’s slightly fiddly, but shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time. Here’s a video I made with Econsultancy that tells you how to do it, step by step:
Filed under: online video strategies
Before you can set about deploying online video to improve any aspect of your organisation, take a step back and think about your audience. In 2012, online video viewers have billions of other things they could be watching instead and for you to produce successful content you need to think about how it’s going to help your customers.
This means turning the rhetoric of traditional TV advertising and corporate film on its head and building your strategy around what your audiences will find genuinely useful, entertaining or interesting. You can’t got out and just “produce a viral video”: the opportunities presented by social video, the ‘viral’ spread effect and content sharing all depend upon having content people are willing to share. You can still spend money on video advertising online, but it will cost more and achieve less than producing content people actually want to watch.
Online video offers marketers an exciting and powerful way of reaching audiences that can be very measurable. Straightened times offer opportunities to try new things, and a well-executed online video strategy can deliver fantastic results. Like most things, getting it right will probably cost more than you think. But your focus has to switch from saying things you or the brand want to say, to saying things your customers will want to watch and hear.
Filed under: online video strategies
April 17, 2012 • 11:00 am
In 2008 Guy Browning and I started a business called Immense Productions. Our vision was to combine the best creative people from big brands with comedy writers from film & TV. With some careful help on the ideas-building front they would produce new and original comedy for the brand to share with its customers.
We had this idea just when someone turned the whole world and its piggy bank upside-down, which was unfortunate. But very fortunately Immense Productions went on to make a charming funny feature film called Tortoise in Love, which is out this summer.
Since then it’s been interesting to see brands explore their use of online video and enjoy the benefits of producing stuff people actually want to watch. This started way back with popular TV ads but in the past few years it’s extended into useful how-to videos, ‘viral’ successes (some of them accidental) and huge amounts of content being produced specifically for online audiences.
A lot of this work still feels very sales-y, or like it was written by the PR department. The final step towards true Brand Entertainment will come when brands put down the product and start to focus on what people actually find useful, interesting or entertaining. Fosters started to do this in their sponsorship of “Original Comedy on Four”. Now they’re one of a few brands taking it all the way online with fosters.co.uk, hosting new and/or previously unseen episodes of comedies like Alan Partridge and the Fast Show.
Making millions of people happy is a great way to boost brand loyalty. And brands are starting to realise they can do this themselves, just as successfully as TV broadcasters.
Filed under: online video strategies, brand entertainment, guy browning, immense productions, steffan aquarone
January 16, 2012 • 9:30 am
In spite of the proliferation of online analytics packages available, most marketers don‘t realise how much rich, detailed information about their online video can be fed in. Actual data is the only way brands can understand what content their consumers find appealing and even this short article should be able to reveal some of the faculties of online video measurement that are often obscured – or withheld completely.
YouTube has shown us how great video can look on the web, but it’s not shown us the full breadth of fantastic information that can be gleaned about viewers‘ behaviour. Similarly, self-hosted content (i.e. where it‘s put on your web server and pointed to from your site with a free Flash player) will only tell you how many times each video file has been accessed, if you‘re lucky.
Even the most basic of online video platforms should be able to offer you the following data about how your videos are being consumed:
- View counts by day
- View counts by hour of the day
- Views per host site (the different places where the video is available)
- Duration monitoring for every view on every video (how far through the video people watch and which parts were re-watched the most)
- Comments and when they were made
- Social media sharing per video and day
- Interactivity performance (appearance of ads or clickable regions, click through rate, close rate and crucially, when the ads were clicked)
These basic insights should be the very minimum set of data you look at to make simple assessments about the return on investment of your online video or the effectiveness of a particular piece of content as an awareness builder.
However it‘s all very well sitting down at your review meeting and remarking at how great it is that 4,362 people watched your video yesterday – but what are you really trying to measure? Video is interactive, and when a viewer or customer does something around a video, it‘s likely to be a choice from several options rather than a simple ‘response‘ that we‘re used to from traditional media measurement. A click is incredibly useful of course, but on its own doesn‘t reveal the extent to which an ad is involving the customer with the brand. Rather than focusing on simplistic measurements like click through rates or video views, you need to look at aspects like engagement rates and duration monitoring too.
If you‘re using online video for retail, look at which products viewers are interested in, not just the raw number of click throughs. Compare people’s browsing behaviour to their buying behaviour by plotting video views throughout the day against purchase volumes – you might find people prefer to browse video in the evenings, but make their actual purchase decisions during lunch breaks the following day. These insights could fundamentally affect the way you organise your website during different times of the day, and when you dispatch outbound marketing messages.
Ensuring you have visibility of your video metrics in the same system as your overall analytics reporting will help you do everything from attribute individual commercial values to each piece of content, to see where video fits into visitors’ overall engagement with your site. A/B testing will help you determine the impact a video is having when inserted at a particular point in the user journey – meaning you can use actual information to improve where in the site customers are presented with video, and what type of content has the biggest impact on conversion.
Filed under: Uncategorized
December 12, 2011 • 10:00 am
As I was cited by Econsultancy recently as saying, YouTube is owned by Google whose commercial interest is driving PPC revenue. Although YouTube is a great way of getting your video found online, it’s much more beneficial for companies to get people to watch video content on their own sites since this gives them greater control over the user experience. And yet YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world and is the number one most popular search engine for certain demographics.
They key to getting the ‘best of both worlds’ is a combined approach: making sure your site-hosted content is findable through video sitemaps (see recent blog post on how to do video sitemaps) to drive traffic direct to the videos on your site, but also making sure your content is hosted on YouTube so you’re findable there too.
As with SEO itself, there are several factors you can optimise that will determine where in the SERP your video will appear. These principles will determine the order of search engine results on YouTube:
- Metadata – video title and description tags
- Number of comments and shares
- Date added
- View count (and channel view count, number of subscribers and playlist adds for YouTube)
- Rating and flagging (where applicable)
- Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links
Because it’s so much harder to get viewers to take a related action on YouTube than it is on your own site, my advice would be to upload limited-length or ‘trailer’ style content to YouTube. If your content is interesting, useful or entertaining, a message during the YouTube video that says “visit ourcompany.com/tv to watch the full video” will likely be an acceptable ask. Of course, it’s important to test these theories in practice for your content and your customers.
Just remember: YouTube exists to drive clicks for Google’s Adwords customers, taking valuable viewers away from your content and off to someone else’s website – potentially your competitors. Driving customers to watch videos on your website, where you can control the experience including what happens after the video, will always lead to better results whatever your objectives.
Filed under: online video strategies, top of youtube, video search, video seo, youtube
December 2, 2011 • 6:43 pm
Google search engine results pages now contain a combination of types of media. Web page results still dominate but for a given search phrase, video, news, location and image results are mixed in together on top of pay-per-click links in a blended search engine results page.
Video is a key ingredient of blended search. Because there are far fewer videos competing for the top spots than there are web pages competing for top of text search, investing time in video SEO will deliver greater results. According to Forrester Research, optimizing video content to take advantage of blended search is by far the easiest way to get a first page organic ranking on Google.
Videos appear in the search engine results pages of the likes of Google and Yahoo via things called Video Sitemaps. Search engines aren’t smart enough to be able to see what’s in online videos in the way they can read text on web pages, so to add your videos to their video indexes you need to tell the search engines exactly where your videos are. Video sitemaps do this – they’re small files that contain information about where videos outside YouTube (which populates Google automatically) are located. Typically, these files include a title, description, URL of the page where the video can be watched, the location of a thumbnail image of the poster frame, and the location of the video file itself. You can upload your own sitemaps to Google, Yahoo and others or you can use an online video platform to do it for you. I don’t usually link to commercial products but I really like Buto’s simple video sitemaps feature – which will do all the above for you.
The best thing about video sitemaps is that when a user clicks on one of your videos in a search engine results page they‘re directed straight to the page where the content is hosted, as opposed to being directed to YouTube where it‘s considerably harder to get them to take a related action. So a small amount of time invested in putting together your video sitemap or listing automated video sitemaps as a priority feature could pay dividends. Because video sitemaps contain relatively little information, optimising your video for search is limited to the title, description and keyword fields.
Filed under: online video strategies, online video, video seo, video sitemap, youtube
November 7, 2011 • 9:30 am
The environment in which people now browse the web is fundamentally more competitive than any other media space in the history of advertising. Display ad designers have long had to cope with their work being one of multiple things in an environment competing for peoples’ attention, and TV advert producers know their audiences will channel hop if they don’t like what they see. But online video suffers from all these challenges and more.
Your online video is going to be competing with every single other piece of content on the web. Audiences who don’t like what they see will simply go and do something else – and that includes employees and business audiences too. Not only is your content competing for audiences, but the multiple devices that consumers use to access parts of the web simultaneously provide further opportunities for distraction and drop-out.
The best way to ensure your content gets seen and shared is to focus on producing content people actually want to watch. This is an incredibly difficult thing for many brands to do – even though they think they’re focusing on the customer, more often than not they’re thinking about themselves more. Ask a marketer why a customer really needs the content they’re planning and they’ll probably still say something like “because they need to understand the features and benefits of the product”. This is not what the customer needs, it’s what the brand wants, and it won’t work if it’s made the focus for your content.
Put your customer at the centre of your world and produce something that’s compellingly interesting, indispensably useful or unmissably entertaining. That way people might genuinely enjoy your content, and you‘ll find that it might even get shared around.
Filed under: online video strategies, best web video, creative content, good web video, make great content, video sharing, web video