If you’re a marketer in today’s dynamic advertising world, you probably have your standard bag of tricks, but you’re also looking toward the next big step — that transformation that’s going to help your sales strategy stay fresh and relevant to what’s happening across your industry and your markets.
One thing that you might benefit from looking at is long-form video. With companies that are truly pushing the envelope of modern digital advertising, long-form video is part of the relatively uncharted waters that marketers can navigate into, in hopes of standing above the crowd and drawing audiences that otherwise wouldn’t bother to look.
The Rationale Behind Long-Form Video
In some ways, using long-form video is a kind of confluence of two trends that are happening right now.
The first one is long-form content in general. The long-form/short-form debate is a conversation that a lot of companies are having, from new startups to some of the biggest blue-chip dinosaurs on the New York Stock Exchange.
While the conversation is definitely being had, the results are often less than conclusive. Some companies don’t want to pay for long-form content, which is generally more expensive, but others are increasingly venturing into these new territories.
An example from Upstart Business Journal shows how some New York City startups are venturing toward long-form text articles of more than 2000 words, finally starting to take a bite out of the extremely formulaic 500-word-page approach that characterized the last ten years. The article also shows how one innovative content advertiser, Buzzfeed, has introduced something called ‘BuzzReads’ that also tends toward long-form.
The article also covers another platform called Narratively that publishes one piece per day of either long-form story, photo essay, audio piece or video.
Meanwhile, the concept of online videos definitely getting its own popularity. A study from comScore reveals the following:
- 33 television hours a week for the average American family
- heavy online video content use among the 5.1 million homes broadband but without pay-cable television
- 7 hours and 33 minutes a month of online video for the average viewer age 18-24
- 100 million Americans watched online video each day in 2011
- 43.5 million videos viewed per month in the same year
In addition, the study breaks out online viewing according to the heavyweights of today’s digital media world:
- YouTube – 21.9 billion views
- Hulu – 777 million views
- Netflix – 431 million views
With all of those numbers in hand, lots of marketers are realizing that a shift toward video might be in their best interests. Meanwhile, some studies, like this one from MSW Research, give tangible reasons why long form video can work, with examples of emotional power grabs by video advertisers.
Long-Form Video – What Are the “Big Dogs” Doing?
One long-form video case study is showing how these kinds of projects can attract different audiences.
Jameson whiskey’s recent ‘first-shot’ film entries are garnering a lot of attention on online media. Now, the company has started injecting these 20-minute spots into YouTube videos as ads.
On the one hand, lots of people will click out, just because they don’t want to spend 20 minutes on the initial ad. But a good portion of these users are going to be intrigued — why is there a 20-minute video? And why is it so non-addish?
Take, for example, this Jameson creation featuring Uma Thurman in “Jump.”
This particular piece tends to drag a bit — the non-speaking intro logs in at 1:40 — and from there it never really developed into a very framed narrative. It does, however, makes viewers wonder. There is, enough cinematography and mystery in this film, set in a behavioral health facility, to keep audiences on their toes and trying to figure out how this narrative is going to end.
Jump is, simply put, something different, and it’s different enough and revolutionary enough to draw attention in a world where multitudes of businesses are putting a lot of cash into much less visible efforts.
Challenges with Long-Form Video
To be fair, there are challenges that marketers in smaller companies are going to face with any kind of video, let alone the long-form video.
There are the issues of casting — who is going to be on screen acting, and what about quality control? How much is the company willing to pay actors?
Some online resources can help with these kinds of questions — for example, this article from the “for Dummies” brand looks at how other companies do casting for marketing video. For one thing, the article points out that operating out of a headquarters in a bigger city allows companies to draw from more talent, where they can do elaborate casting calls and auditions. Then there is the suggestion, included here and in other pieces of advice for marketers, that many companies have simply put out casting advertisements on craigslist, just as you would for a temporary inventory worker, another pair of hands in a retail store, or one of those people to twirl signs or wear a statue of liberty costume during tax season.
Then there’s wardrobe, set, and all those other extras that cause executives to question the return on investment of video.
To make video production less of a big unknown, This article from Reelmarketer takes would-be video ad makers through the process of trying to put together video without a sophisticated in-house production setup.
“Video production can appear complicated,” writes Chris Ruffell, “but there are solutions.”
The article details items like lighting and camera setup, along with audio production.
It also gets into some of those big questions about narrative — will your production be scripted or unscripted? Is it going to be entirely fictional, or more geared toward the realm of non-fiction consumer guidance?
On the one hand, crafting a narrative really has to do with your own ingenuity and creativity. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some general principles to go by — for instance, this advice post from StoryFarm, detailing the video content strategy of big furniture maker IKEA, suggests a fundamental commandment of video making is to know your audience, to think about what your customers want to see, for instance, whether or not they want a series of how-to videos to help them solve problems, or whether they’ll be thrilled by a dark drama or a comedy. StoryFarm’s writers also suggest getting the right quality of production for the scale of the marketing that you’re doing, which is easier said than done. Again, it might be tough to get buy-in for all of the resources you need to craft a higher quality video, but in any case, getting the mix right is important. It’s not always wrong to go low-budget, but the finished product has to be usable, and it has to look good according to the goals that you’ve set.
After the videos are made, there’s still the tricky question of where to put them.
Obviously, marketers can choose to simply shunt these longer spots onto the same platforms that are optimal for shorter ads, but with some significant exceptions. For example, a company can’t market with long-form video on tv, unless they buy that time (they can, however, pursue product placement in long form programming…and they do) – but in the video world, platforms like YouTube are allowing longer videos to compete.
The results are interesting – for example, this FreeWheel study goes into detail about how longer videos have just recently gotten above the 20% mark in terms of ‘market share’ on platforms the study describes as “Digital Pure-Plays” and talks about fundamental strategies behind made-for-web video.
Although it might be tempting to just “youtube it and forget it,” marketers also have the choice of going with more intimate channels for the more elaborate video they create: for instance, by shifting these longer form videos to, say, a Facebook profile, or a company’s own site, the company can avoid the mass-click-throughs that might happen on YouTube. There’s also the option of creating mini-trailers or other broad-spectrum ads for a stable of videos that’s kept and curated on an internal space.
Supporting Marketing with High-Tech CRM
For long-form video or any kind of marketing, it helps when you can measure the effect of advertisements, and put them into a more detailed context.
Stride CRM supports this kind of work by offering transparent and accessible customer relationship management dashboard design that allows you to take a birds-eye view of what your company is doing. In addition to supporting deals and identifying customers, our platform allows you to really pursue sales in a detail-oriented way, and to benchmark and keep tabs on the marketing campaigns that you do on a regular basis. Look at all of the functionality that we’ve included to help support real marketing firepower for those contending in really tough and competitive markets.