The Agency Record Blog

web video…what works?

I think a lot about this question, and there isn’t a single answer. Much of the answer is informed by the market, the purpose, and the audience, so let’s look at these three factors in more detail.

The Market
It really goes without saying, but the appropriateness of a video is largely dictated by the market for which it is created. Financial institutions are no more likely to get value from a viral prank video than a high-caffeine energy drink is likely to get traction with a “Hallmark Moment” style video production. The market dictates the type of video that is likely to make an impact, and any consultant, director or producer worth his/her salt has a highly developed intuition about such things. Often, the really good ones choose to specialize in certain markets, because their understanding of the nuances of, say, panty hose keeps their work sharp and tuned, while delivering a visual message with conviction and authenticity (two words I’ll likely unpack in a separate post soon). Web video, of necessity, should employ a slightly more informal tone than other visual mass mediums, and only recently has the video production industry begun to figure this out. Still, it’s all a matter of degrees, and any giant departures from established norms had better be able to stand up to the scrutiny of honest web-surfers who rarely hesitate to provide raw feedback.

The Purpose
I’m amazed at how many times this crucial element is left out of the early discussions about video production. “We know we need a video. Everyone has video on their web site. Can you do something for us?” But video on the web without a clear purpose is a certain failure. Web-based video is a weapon that can take down a variety of game, but not unless it is loaded correctly and aimed properly. Knowing what savage beast you are hunting will help you choose the weapon and the ammunition you need to take with you out into the web-wilderness. A few good questions to help you clarify your purpose: What information does my customer need to know before making a purchase? Can I answer the five most frequently asked questions in a quick video tutorial? What three things distinguish me, my product or my service from the rest of the pack? What information do people come to my web site to obtain?

The Audience
Would you take a three-year-old to a gruesome slasher movie? Hopefully not. But why do businesses think that it’s acceptable to offer their customers under-thirty a video with a hip-quotient equal to CSPAN? Match the video production values with the intended audience. Think about it: You have slaved over making sure that your product is exactly what your target consumer wants and is willing to pay you for. But if you tell them about your product in a video message that isn’t speaking to them in a tone or a style they understand, you might as well have saved all the trouble in developing anything at all. When blowing through an ad budget for mediums such as television, video production is scrutinized under the demographic and psychographic microscopes, and much care and attention is given to crafting visual content that hits its mark with audiences. The same cannot be said with regard to web video. The vagaries of broadcast successes don’t always transfer to the online medium, for one, but even more horrendous is the fact that online audiences aren’t even attempted to be understood, even though the argument can be made that we have the potential for vastly more specific and valuable information about behavior online.

A video production begun by examining these three fundamental areas will be much more likely to achieve realistic goals and return on investment.

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