Posts tagged with ‘web video’

Video Does Make A Difference

Broadband has given businesses new ways to get their brand message out into the world. From personal video to streaming live broadcasts of large scale events, the internet has made it necessary for companies to rethink how they reach consumers. The most effective marketing campaigns are the ones that incorporate Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and so on.

Old Spice is a good example of this principle. Their “Old Spice Man” campaign has been a huge hit. After the initial commercial became a viral hit, they engaged consumers further by recording and posting video responses to those who commented about the commercial in various social forums. You don’t necessarily need to go as far as Old Spice did, but it is a good example of what video can do for your brand. It has a much greater impact than just text on a page.

When working on a marketing campaign, consider adding video. It will add identity to your brand, and help consumers better connect with your company.

Video Title Best Practices

Some video production work requires extensive use of titles, or even language subtitles, in order to convey the meaning of the piece most effectively. I am always amazed at how poorly this step is conceived during pre-production. So I thought I would offer a few tips I have found useful when titling video, both for the web and television formats. (Note: this article does not cover the line-21 standard of closed captioning for the hearing impaired, which makes use of additional technology and delivery mechanisms. For information on CC best practices, I recommend WGBH guidelines, which are considered to be excellent, if not massive overkill.)

  1. Use simple, sans-serif font styles. This is especially important for TV, and lower quality web video. The serifs can add a good deal to the noisiness of a digitally compressed frame schema. Titles are usually meant to convey additional information during a shot (someone’s name or job title, or a location name, for example). It is good to remember that titles have to be viewed at the same time as accompanying moving imagery, so the plainer your font, the easier it is to read at a glance.
  2. Keep it short and concise. Long titles detract from the scene, and often become frustrating, when they do not appear long enough on screen for average or below average reading levels. A good rule of thumb is to keep it under 8 words, or approximately 35 characters.
  3. Use white lettering with a drop shadow. This is essential when lettering over moving video. Moving areas of contrast can cause white letters to disappear, so the drop shadow helps to keep the form of each letter identifiable and somehow anchored, while seemingly floating just above the video.
  4. Keep positioning in mind. Center-screen titles are usually best served over a dark or black matte, rather than moving video. I break this rule a lot, however. The most essential thing to remember is if your video is destined for TV: Position your titles within the title-safe area of the screen. Older tube TVs still crop the image a fair amount, so unless you want your viewers to only see the top half of your title, keep it in the safe zone. I like to use lower thirds motion backgrounds for titles, because it helps to call attention to important information that might be missed if there is a lot going on in a scene. semi-transparent lower thirds also help to mute the area of the screen where the title appears, which helps it to stand out while not entirely blocking out the primary content beneath it.
  5. Keep it on screen long enough to read. My rule of thumb is: if it deserves a title, it deserves enough time to be read. I hate that TV now flies through show credits so fast (an so small!) that no one could possibly read a word of it. I try to keep it up twice as long as it takes me to read it, since, as the editor, I am so familiar with the project it no doubt takes me a much shorter time than someone who has never seen the video.
  6. Use sparingly. This probably goes without saying, but try to make your images and videography tell the bigger story. Use titles to provide context or details that the shot cannot tell, or to save time (i.e. Let the interviewee tell us her story while the title tells us her name).

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Web Video Strategy

There is a lot to consider when planning your web video strategy. SEO, text vs. visual information presentation, the engagement object level, your market demographic, production quality, and more, all bearing on the success or failure of the effort. But don’t let this scare you. All of these factors need to be considered for a successful web page copy strategy too.

In our experience, here are a few tips for getting the most our of your web video strategy.

  • Keep it short and free of too much visual filler. I regularly read blog post comments about the intolerance people feel toward long, meaningless stretches of content that isn’t relevant to them. “Short” is a relative term, by the way. A 30-second video on the intricacies of the impact of government involvement in free market dynamics is too short.  Keeping  the content only as long as it needs to be is a good rule of thumb, whether the medium is text or video. Complex, information-dense subjects can still be kept brief, as highlighted by this video we recently produced for a client:

  • Be considerate. Provide player controls in a Flash player. YouTube has a good player, albeit not the best quality picture in the video space.  At the very minimum, use a Flash player with a clearly identifiable play/pause control, and a scrubbable timeline (to be able to scan through lengthy content). A volume control is less of a concern if you are being considerate with your volume levels during production and editing. Full-screen toggle control is nice but not essential at all.
  • Take time to visually conceive the video before production begins. Is there a clear story or thought progression?  What is the best way to visually convey the ideas being expressed? If the content is candid, captured in the wild, and less than 90 seconds, it should contain one main point and get right to it.
  • Do a DIY or How-To video. How-To Videos are wildly successful, and can quite easily get you and your brand on the radar in your market.  Think about what content you could freely offer your customers.  Think of the video content as bait without a hard hook; free without strings, yet clearly demonstrating expertise and brand value.
  • Include a full transcript of videos that contain audio dialogue or narration. Post it on the page in close proximity to the video, so that Google can see and index it, and visitors can scan it to see if the video is worth their time. If the video has no spoken word component, compose a detailed paragraph or two that hightlights the value of the content a viewer could expect to see if they click “play”.
  • Know your customer profile. Are they entertainment seekers? Busy people with little patience for fluff or filler? Engaged community members? Info seekers on a mission? Answering this question will greatly inform your choice of video style and length.
  • Get the production right. More and more, web video is being seen as a primary informational source, and in some cases, is preferable to text only.  Production values count more these days, whereas just two years ago, they didn’t.  Just don’t confuse quality production with over-slick, fluff content that is meaningless to a viewer.  30 second animated logo sequences rarely have a determinative impact on customers.

Web video productions, used well and in conjunction with other informational mediums, can be a great and profitable way to relate relevant and valuable information to customers and prospective clients.

Using Web Video to Add Value

It’s rare to find a brand willing to give away good information, especially when that information might even cut into sales. But that’s just what our client has done, and we think it’s brilliant!

There is an eCommerce client of ours that sells Greenhouses, Sheds, Garden Decor and more. It’s a new site, and it is already picking up a fair amount of traffic and high search engine rankings on big, competitive keywords.

Recently we discussed using viral video to attract people to the site, with good, solid, FREE information that its customers would find useful. Much thought was put into what these videos should contain, and it was soon decided that the first video would be a step-by-step how-to video for building a composter out of an old trash can.

Here’s the catch. The site also sells composters of various sizes and shapes. So the question was, would the video, intended to show an alternative way of getting into composting, siphon off sales of composters on the site?

The answer is a resounding “NO”. Studies have shown that those looking for DIY projects aren’t typically interested in buying off-the-shelf solutions, and vice-versa. But as a way to introduce people to a site full of other related products, the strategy presents some real opportunities.

Web videos are one of the top linked-to items on the web. Beyond providing good information to customers, the page on which the videos reside has become a strongly linked page, which boosts overall site strength.

Improving SERPs with Web Video

How does video help with SERPs when Google can’t digest the content? Here’s one answer. We know that Google is getting better at understanding how much time someone spends on a page. Bounce rates factor into Google’s value assessment of page relevance. So video can help keep a person on a site for longer, which in turn communicates a higher value message to Google, thus increasing SERPs for page content. We have been testing this strategy, and we are seeing it work.

From PubCon this week, there have been some interesting speculations about the future ranking of sites that do not contain any video. Bruce Clay predicts the rapid shift toward heavily favoring sites that employ video and other Engagement Object Level tools during the first quarter of 2009. All the more reason, during challenging economic times, to make sure you aren’t finding your site becoming irrelevant to Googlebot.

Effective Web Video Strategies

In this short video, Carter Harkins talks about what works in an online video strategy. Tutorial videos can be an excellent way to get more in-depth about your products and services, and connect with visitors who are really hungry for more information, not just “fluff”.

Video as a Search Engine Ranking Tool

We have been following these kinds of stories closely. To most who are familiar with how search works, with content relevance being determined almost exclusively from textual cues, the idea that video could help a web site rank higher in search engines is a bit incredulous. But nonetheless, Google continues to favor web sites that employ video on pages, and articles abound as to the reasons why. And while surrounding video with textual cues and keyword proximity is the best way to tell Google and your visitor what a video is about, every effort should be made to make the video content as relevant and as targeted as possible.

It has been our observation that a video production does an amazing job of converting visitors, and getting them to sit still on a site, engaged in a brand message for much longer than they normally would be inclined (as much as 70% click rate!). But the fact that search engines seem to actually be looking for pages with video makes this content strategy all the more appealing.