Everything you need to know about why video works and how to make it work for your brand.
Video is no longer a nice-to-have piece of visual content marketing that only a few brands can afford to prioritize. With major advancements in technology, shifts in content consumption, and evolutions in publishing platforms, it has become a mandatory communication tool to connect with audiences. If you want to tell a cohesive and comprehensive brand story, video can play an important role in your content strategy. But you need to know how to make it work for you. To find out if video is right for your brand, this guide includes everything you need to know, from the science behind why video works to how to act on set. So, ready to press play?
Why Video Works for Brands
Video has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years for many reasons, but primarily because audiences are naturally attracted to the medium. Why?
The Science Behind Video
Video is unique because humans are biologically hardwired to process visual communication, as opposed to other mediums. It is particularly effective because it appeals not just to how we consume information but how we feel when we do.
Video is easier for your brain to process: Watching a video is a passive activity compared to reading an article. This doesn’t mean it’s less engaging; it means it requires less energy to synthesize. When you read text, your brain spends more energy trying to make meaning from it. Processing visual information is a much faster brain task. We see images and instantly connect them to stored information in our brain. Because it takes less work for the brain to absorb the information presented, it's more relaxing to kick back and consume.
A 2014 MIT study found that the brain can process an image in as little as 13 milliseconds.
Video is processed 60,000 times faster than text.
Video triggers an emotional response: Emotion is the unique value of video. Whether it makes you feel happy or sad, joy or anxiety, video elicits an immediate emotional reaction. This is because of the brain’s mirror-neuron mechanism process. As psychologist Liraz Margalit Ph.D. explains in Psychology Today:
“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires not just when we ourselves perform an action but also when we watch someone else perform that same action. Our brains mirror what’s unfolding before us as if we were part of the scene, even if we are just sitting passively on the sidelines.”
This emotional investment cultivates a powerful connection between the on-screen story and the audience. This is significant for brands. If content marketing is a vehicle to form relationships with people, video makes it easier to do so.
Why Video Is So Popular
Digital video is everywhere these days: social media, blogs, websites, you name it. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70% in 2015. This rapid explosion in popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Since 2012, digital video consumption has grown tremendously, and it’s only expected to continue.
Monthly Digital Video Viewers in U.S., 2012-2017
Video’s popularity can be attributed to many things, yet in recent years several shifts have contributed to its success.
U.S. Digital Video Ad Spending, 2014-2019 (Billions)
While these social channels have made video incredibly popular, video viewing across the Web is also a popular activity. Interestingly, eMarketer found that while mobile users spend as much time watching digital video as they do on other social media activities, desktop viewers spend significantly more time watching digital video than they do on social media activities.
Average Time Spent Per Day by U.S. Adults, 2012-2018 (Minutes)
The Video Audience
For many consumers, watching digital video is considered a “fill-in” activity to entertain or inform them throughout the day. Now that it is so pervasive, audiences not only crave but expect communication in this form. According to Pew Research, 78% of online adults watch or download videos online. However, different viewers have different consumption patterns.
Unsurprisingly, millennials spend the most time watching video.
Weekly Time Spent by U.S. Consumers, by Age (Hours; Minutes)
For some, watching video is preferred over text. A Levels Beyond survey found that 51% of millennials would rather watch a video than read.
Brand Video and Gen Z
Video has become a staple among Gen Z, both in how they like to communicate and what they like to consume. According to 2016 Fluent research, two-thirds of respondents say they watch up to two hours of video per day for fun. Additionally:
Will Consumers Watch Brand Video?
watch company-produced videos if friends have shared them.
think a brand video is worth watching if it's trending on social sites.
are more likely to share brand videos.
Top 5 Reasons for Watching Digital Video
4 Types of Video Consumers
YuMe Research/Verto Analytics identify the four main types of digital video consumers. As your brand pursues video, consider how these personas may align with your own customer personas. (If you haven’t created customer personas, here’s how to do it in under 60 minutes.)
The Screen Hopper:
A heavy video user who watches video on multiple devices.
The Video Addict:
A single-device heavy video user.
The Technology Enthusiast:
A user who consumes content on multiple devices but not necessarily video.
The Occasional Video User:
An average single-device user who does not stream video regularly.
Average Hours Watched Per Week
Depending on your consumer audience, video may be a mandatory starting point in the conversation.
How Video Benefits Brands
Video is certainly here to stay, which is great news for brands. When applied strategically, the medium can help you achieve many content goals, whether you need to build brand awareness or increase conversions. As you build your content strategy, consider how video can enhance your efforts in the following areas.
Engagement: According to a Usurv study, consumers are 39% more likely to share, 36% more likely to comment, and 56% more likely to ‘like’ a video than a text article. IAB research found that 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others.
Traffic: Aberdeen research found that marketers who use video receive 41% more web traffic. And posts with video also get 3 times more inbound links than text-only posts, according to Moz. When it comes to digital video ads, research suggests that it can be more effective than any other medium. According to a 2014 Business Insider report, video ads have the highest click-through rate.
Average Click-Through Rate By Ad Format (2014)
Conversions: While videos may not be your sole content investment for driving traffic and conversions, they can play an important role in your overall strategy. A Liveclicker video commerce survey found that 88% of their customers, including brands like Best Buy, Petco, and Under Armour, reported an increase in conversions after adding video to a product page. Unbounce experienced an impressive 100% lift in conversion by adding video to landing pages.
A 2014 Facebook study also examined the efficacy of incorporating video into an advertiser’s online campaign. To test, they showed viewers ads in three different sequencing combinations:
- A video ad, then a static ad
- A static ad, then a video ad
- A static ad, then a second static ad
Video ads both enhanced conversions and sent more visitors to the advertiser’s site than the control.
Effective Ad Combinations on Facebook
A video ad, then a static ad increased conversions 31%.
A static ad, then a video ad sent more visitors to the advertiser’s site than the control group.
A static ad, then a second static ad increased traffic to the advertiser’s site 75%.
Brand awareness: A 2015 Facebook and Nielsen study measured how much effect video had on three core metrics: ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration.
“Results show from the moment a video ad was viewed (even before one second), lift happened across ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration. That means even people who never watched the video, but did see the impression, were still impacted by the ad. And, as expected, lift increased the longer people watch the ad,” Facebook says.
Even if a consumer watched a video for under 10 seconds, the video still helped increase brand awareness and purchase intent.
Trust and credibility: To cultivate a relationship, you need to demonstrate that you know who they are and what they need—and that you are here to help them. Whether you’re producing educational content or showcasing your culture, video provides a great opportunity to communicate these messages.
How Marketers Use Video
Which of the following objectives do you plan to meet using video marketing?
How to Use Brand Video
To make an effective video, you need to tell the right story in the right presentation. Video is a flexible format that allows you to deliver different messages in different ways, depending on your needs.
Video can help you communicate at every touchpoint. Some of the most common use-cases include:
- Ads: Online video, commercials (national or regional).
- Explainer videos: Introductions, overviews, processes, tutorials for products, services, or ideas. (Read more about explainer videos.)
- Promo videos: Viral videos, case studies, interviews, testimonials, product reviews—anything that publicizes work or brand.
- Culture marketing: Content to showcase brand, people, or causes.
- Social videos: Content to engage followers, whether education or entertainment.
What formats do you use as a part of your marketing mix?
Types of Video
Video can take many forms. The story you want to tell, the resources at hand, and the people you’re trying to reach all influence the format you choose. Each provides a unique opportunity for creative expression.
When most people think “video,” they think of live-action: real actors and sets telling a narrative story, captured on camera. This is the most popular type of video. (Remember: When people “see” themselves on-screen, they feel more empathy.) Live-action allows for short- and long-form storytelling. It also requires a number of production elements: location, talent, crew, etc.
Example: In collaboration with LinkedIn, we co-produced a live-action video that explores the endless opportunities that come from having a professional LinkedIn profile.
Motion graphics include 2D or 3D-animated graphics. (They can also include a mix of live-action and graphics animation.) Storytelling in this format relies on audio and on-screen visualizations. The production is more controlled. Explainer videos are often presented as motion graphics because they allow you to break down abstract concepts, show how something works, present data, or depict worlds that may be otherwise difficult to capture in live-action.
Example: We created a motion graphic explainer video to help Intuit explain its new Invoice with Google Calendar app.
Emerging technologies are taking video to the next level. These video types require more production, specific equipment, and technical skill to produce, but they will only become more popular. Some brands are already finding great success.
- 360-degree video: This technique expands the viewer’s perspective, allowing them to explore a panoramic scene from every angle. See The North Face adventure through Nepal.
- Virtual Reality: VR is a computer-generated simulation of an environment that viewers can interact with. It is immersive and contained storytelling that puts viewers in the driver’s seat. See Coca-Cola’s VR Santa Sleigh Ride.
- Augmented Reality: This tech allows the viewer to interact with their physical environment. See the Tesco Discover App, which allows users to scan Tesco publications to see videos, recipes, etc.
Example: We collaborated with Visage to create a 360-degree video exploring the building of the brand. The unique experience lets you intimately explore the environment.
According to YouVisit’s Virtual Reality Brand Power Index survey, 75% of the top 100 brands* have used VR or AR or are investing or developing this type of technology.
*Top 100 of the 2015 Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brand list
What Makes a Great Brand Video?
Video is unique in that it is multi-layered storytelling—it’s not just print on a page. Each element of production contributes to its success. As your brand explores video, ensure that every aspect of creative aligns with your goals.
Why produce video—or content—at all? It’s not just because you want to sell your product. If you want to do content marketing well, you must create content that provides value to people in some capacity. This can be provided via content that is:
- Engaging: Content that sparks their interest or curiosity.
- Informative: Content that teaches them something. This can be practical knowledge, tutorials, advice, or information that expands their knowledge in a way that helps them do, think, or live better.
- Entertaining: Content that is novel, exciting, interesting, humorous, etc. Most viral videos fall under this category.
Storytelling With Emotion
One of the most compelling traits of video is its ability to elicit an emotional response. A 2015 study of emotions and viral content found that content with an emotional hook is far more likely to be shared. This is thanks to emotional contagion, a phenomenon of one person's emotions triggering similar emotions and behaviors in others. Whatever story you choose to tell should be anchored by a core emotion. Once you have identified that emotion, everything else should be created to support it.
Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion
Every aspect of production takes its cue from the story you’re telling (aka script). Make sure you have a compelling narrative. That may include a setup and payoff, a logical sequence of events, or a cliffhanger meant to push viewers to action. Tell your story as powerfully and succinctly as possible.
Music is one of the most powerful emotional tools at your disposal. It sets the mood and enhances the narrative. Selecting the right accompaniment is key.
Because a human voice is familiar, it is another device to deliver your message in an impactful way. That human element can reinforce a sense of comfort, giving your brand more credibility.
The images that appear on screen, whether live-action or animated, do much of the heavy lifting. Video is an opportunity to showcase your brand’s visual language. Consider how your logo colors or other elements can communicate that identity.
Telling your story in the right amount of time is crucial. Video length should be determined by:
- The story you’re telling
- The audience you’re targeting
- Where your video will be located
- The action you want viewers to take
Brand videos can borrow from the filmmaking principle that every action, scene, and second of the film should be spent in service to the story. Every video has its own “perfect” length based on what’s needed to tell its story.
According to a Wistia analysis, 2 minutes is the sweet spot for engagement. Yet videos that are 6-12 minutes long also hold your audience’s attention.
Case Study: Internet Explorer
As part of the Internet Explorer “Browser You Loved to Hate” campaign, we collaborated with Microsoft to create a video that would introduce a new, positive brand message to millennials.
Millennials are notoriously skeptical of traditional advertising, which meant that the video needed to start a conversation in a non-traditional way. Capturing the attention of a tech-savvy generation required a unique hook that resonated emotionally: ‘90s nostalgia. Tapping into this childhood nostalgia enabled us to start a new dialogue with Gen-Y, reminding viewers of their early relationship with the brand (through the tagline, “You grew up, so did we”) and inviting them to reacquaint themselves at the BrowserYouLovedToHate.com site.
49 million+ views
(7 million views in first 5 days)
Nominated for Webby and Mashie
Massive media pickup
(Including Time, Forbes, and Mashable)
Brand Video Strategy
People come across brand videos in a variety of ways at every stage of the buyer’s journey, whether on your company site or via a friend’s Facebook feed. Producing video content tailored to specific channels will help you achieve better results.
Top Ways to Learn About Original Digital Video
But creating video just to keep up with the Joneses will not support your success. Approaching video with a solid strategy is just as important as coming up with a brilliant idea.
Questions to Ask
Before you consider video, clearly outline what you’re trying to achieve.
Goals and Objectives
What are your specific objectives? How does this content piece fit into your larger content strategy?
Who are you reaching? At what stage of the buyer’s journey? What do they need?
What owned, earned, and paid strategies will help get the video seen by who you want?
Budget and Resources
Video is an investment that requires more than other mediums. To make sure you can execute within reason, understand what it might cost.
Measuring the ROI of Video
Every video serves a different purpose. Track the metrics that are most relevant to your project. This may include:
This is how many impressions your video (and perhaps, then, your brand) received. While it is an important metric, it shouldn’t be the only thing you measure. (Remember: Even a quick impression can increase brand lift.)
Engagement: Likes, comments, watch rate
Watch rate shows you how much of the video your audience watched. Identifying the drop-off can help you spot issues: maybe your video was too long, maybe the story took a twist.
Word of mouth: Social shares
If your video resonates with your audience, they are more likely to share. Tracking shares can help you gauge which social platforms generate the most engagement, and therefore which ones you might want to target in paid campaigns.
Relevance: Play rate
This is the percentage of people who clicked play. You can A/B test video placement or tweak your thumbnail image to make it more enticing.
This measures how your video inspired viewers to take an action, whether that was to go to your website, subscribe, sign up for a demo, or download something.
Which Metrics Do You Use to Measure Performace of Your Videos?
Video Production 101
Each stage of the video production process is crucial to the video’s success. If you want your project to go smoothly, your team must be empowered to succeed at every stage.
Levels of Production
While each video project is unique and has its own variables, depending on a multitude of factors, production generally falls into the following categories. These production tiers vary in terms of both the time and resources it takes to produce.
Simple production required, usually a single camera.
No actors, minimal equipment, practical locations.
Design, music, and VO talent are required; longer time-frame than a quick shoot-and-edit video.
Full production, including script, storyboard, actors, crew, sets, sound, etc.
Highest production requirements, including full production elements of online video, as well as union actors and higher licensing fees for music, archival media, and other rights usages.
Finding the Right Idea
Once you have your strategy in place, you can proceed with the fun part: Coming up with a great idea. (See our tips for running an effective brainstorm to help your team work better together.) Video allows for plenty of creativity, but because it requires so many moving parts, it’s important that the idea you choose is airtight. As you ideate, vet your ideas by asking these questions:
- Does it provide value?
- Can you effectively execute within budget and timeline?
- Does it support your goals?
- Is it original or unique? Not everything has to be original, but it should be unique.
- Is it on-brand?
Important: Once you find the right idea, carefully re-examine your budget. In the excitement of creative ideation, it’s easy to forget how much things cost—especially in video production. Once your idea is approved by all appropriate stakeholders, you can move into pre-production.
Pre-production is the most important aspect of making a live-action video. The time spent—and corners cut—in pre-production will directly affect the quality of your video. During this phase, your core goal is to plan thoroughly enough to make sure filming goes as smoothly as possible. If done properly, your job should be a breeze on set. This includes:
Make sure you have sign-off from all parties involved before you move into set design.
Vet and cast your top-billed actors, extras, or voiceover talent. (And make sure they actually look like their headshot!)
Director, DP, and Crew
Your director, director of photography, and other key players will execute your vision. You may search on your own or source recommendations. Most importantly, make sure they are good collaborative partners who have the right skills.
How to Choose a Director
A director does their best work if involved from the beginning. As you search for the right person, consider the following:
- What video style are you going for?
- Have they produced that type of video?
- What connections do they have, and how can those benefit your production?
- Can they stay within budget?
- Do they have a good reputation?
- How impressive is their portfolio?
Art design is responsible for conveying the story visually. Everyone has to be on the same page to properly represent it.
Additional things to lock down in pre-production:
- Call sheets
(including all relevant shoot info)
- Craft services
- Insurance, permits, safety
- Production design
(materials and rentals)
(camera, gear, or special effects)
- Transportation and vehicles
(crew, equipment, production design, etc.)
(practical or sets)
(crew, equipment trucks, etc.)
By the time you’re on set, you should have done your due diligence to make sure things go as quickly as possible. Time and money are limited resources on set. Even the slightest change can severely affect the production.
Tips for Being On Set
Consider it an opportunity to learn: Video is a complicated process. The more you know, the better product you can create and the more effectively you can work.
If you have a concern, address the right people—at the right time: Don’t interrupt a shot. If you see a problem or have a question, ask the appropriate stakeholders. Typically the assistant director, producer, or production manager would be the people to speak with first.
Trust the professionals: While feedback is important, everyone on set should be empowered to do their job to the best of their ability. (This is also why pre-production is so important.)
Problem-solve quickly and efficiently: No matter how much you prepare, issues will still arise. In such case, you need a clear chain of command to make decisions quickly. Keep objectives front of mind to help simplify decision-making.
Don’t say you’ll “fix it in post”: While post-production greatly enhances your product, it isn’t a miracle fix. Do as much as you can on set to prevent post-production burdens.
Often once a shoot wraps, the real work of storytelling is just beginning. Post-production is the final stage that brings your whole video together and into final form. This includes:
- Archival or other third-party assets
- CGI (if applicable)
- Color correction
- Sound design (original composition or stock)
5 Tips For Video Production
Organizing Your Team
To do great work, you need the right creative partners. Even the most simple production still needs a core team. Depending on your resources, you may produce video in-house or seek a video agency to help.
If you have the skills, equipment, knowledge, and bandwidth to produce video, you should certainly explore doing so. Low-production video (think agile videos, interviews, documentaries, or simple tutorials) can be produced with a smaller team and fewer resources. However, if this is your first foray into video or you have a larger concept, consider outside help.
An agency can benefit your production in several ways. First and foremost, however, they should function as true creative partners. With a good working relationship, your brand can benefit from a video agency’s:
- Expertise: They have specialized knowledge—or know the right people—to help execute your vision.
- Experience: They also know what works (and what can go terribly wrong), so they’ll call on lessons learned to keep you on the right path.
- Relationships: Video production requires many different skills. They have existing relationships with vendors and can help you negotiate deals.
Read our tips on how to choose a video agency to help you in your search. No matter what type of video you produce, experimenting with a new medium can bring great results. But you have to try it first.
If you have any questions or need some help with your video, we’re happy to chat.