With the advent of social media, smartphones and the rise of ‘on-demand’ services, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the average attention span of a human being is now eight seconds, less than that of a goldfish. Expectations for speed of package delivery, food, money transfer and even dating is unparalleled, but advertisers are also counting the cost of our dwindling concentration levels.
The days of long-form TV content being the most popular platform and format are long gone; people now have busier lives, more control over what they watch and a heavily saturated media market from which they can access all their favourite content. In a nutshell, people are now more interested in viewing shorter-form content across platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Some marketers could see this ever-increasing smorgasbord of platforms as a nightmare, but in fact, it can only be a real opportunity.
Stories to tell
Video is, by and large, the most engaging form of content; it can capture a mood, tell a story and grip an audience. And for marketers, it delivers much higher rates of engagement, effectiveness and rates of sharing on social media platforms and in online marketing. But many are struggling to work out the best approach to video content production and marketing. Fundamentally, advertising is a story told by brands to build a relationship with their audiences but it can often be far too difficult to achieve cut through via media bursts and one-off campaigns designed around internal marketing and business priorities, rather than an audience-first non-linear strategy.
Many brand marketing teams will no doubt have a strong calibre of executives with experience in TV ad development and traditional digital marketing. But in reality, this isn’t the way people are consuming content at the moment. The new world of video content marketing – involving short, platform and channel-specific content required on a weekly (or even daily!) basis – is a new challenge for marketers and requires skills that many in traditional marketing teams quite frankly don’t have.
Opportunity beckons, but what are the challenges?
Companies like Snapchat and Instagram have cleverly tapped into the growing shift towards mobile and short bursts of video content, a trend reflected in the increase of digital video spending; figures last year showed video ad spend in 2015 grew 50.7% to £711million, with ad spend on social media sites growing 45% to £1.25bn. Instagram’s decision to extend video playback from 15 seconds to 60 seconds in 2016 has allowed for more diverse story-telling and greater content production on the social media platform. It makes sense, of course, for brands to capture the attention of audiences by having a presence on the platforms where they are spending most of their time.
As these platforms become increasingly mainstream, what of the other new and emerging channels and platforms? Facebook’s new TV video app has whetted the appetite for marketers and has Facebook’s advertising executives rubbing their hands. But while each new platform represents a new opportunity for marketers, it also presents a new challenge, often requiring their own custom content to be effective and measurable.
Life would be so much easier if the same piece of content being pushed out on TV could be replicated in that exact form across every single channel – but there is no one-size-fits-all when you’re talking about video marketing. Ensuring videos are fit for feed, fit for device, localised and relevant are all important when considering viewer engagement. It’s no use chopping down the same piece of content for TV as you would for Snapchat. You need different filmmakers with experience in the platforms and audience you’re trying to reach; if you’re a brand wanting to launch a Snapchat video in Russia, you’ll likely want a millennial professional filmmaker living in that country to create your content to make it authentic and genuine.
An industry in transition
There can be no doubt that the marketing and advertising industry is in steady transition: marketing has often pushed out ads with a huge backing of media spend behind it. The advertising industry was built around long creative and planning cycles with large budgets for each television commercial. But these models are now dated, less effective and one which clients are moving away from.
Fortunately, the supply side of video is healthy, growing and ready to support the change in the industry. Filmmakers are on the rise, with freelancers joining the industry at a rate of knots. Technological advancements in production equipment (ranging from drones and hi-tech camera equipment to the latest filmmaking software) are now more easily accessible, allowing the most professional and artistic videos to be created for a fraction of the budget it would have required ten years ago.
Marketers need to grab this vast pool of opportunity in front of them and take advantage of the reams of platforms available. But they need to do this in a smart and engaging way; create the right content for the right people, by the right people, or else face the inevitable reality of their content simply being ignored.