Corporates Get Social: The State of Enterprise Video

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If the significant development in 2009 was companies developing robust ROI (return on investment) models for video content, then the past year has seen several new trends emerge in the corporate sector.

Companies showed increased confidence in producing video as a key component of their online journeys. This was reaffirmed by a significant amount of research that suggested all audiences are now viewing video online. In addition, it became clear that more users were expecting to see video as part of their interaction with companies and as a key part of their decision-making journeys.

The growth of social media as a referral source for video has rapidly increased, along with the use of video in social media campaigns and videos increasing importance in search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies.

Companies focused on how best to maximise ROI from video content as pressure on production costs continued.

Relevant Research

Throughout the last year there has been a raft of research that suggests that video content has now become a fundamental part of user journeys on the web. This in turn has affected the attitude within companies towards online video content.

A comScore study in October 2010 showed that there was an almost even split between the age groups when it came to who was viewing video online across Europe. This meant that each of the five age groups from 15–24 to 55-plus made up around 20% of the viewing audience online.

This supported a growing recognition from companies that video was not simply for younger consumers but appealed to a much broader age range. This has manifested itself with a number of large pan-European companies looking at developing alternate online user journeys that rely heavily on video content.

A further comScore study in September 2010 suggested there was a 66% increase in the number of people viewing video on mobile devices from 2009, bringing the total to 12.1 million mobile consumers across the EU5 countries (U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Italy). This research supports the evidence of an increasing trend for companies to develop their websites not only for mobile devices but also to include video content that is able to be served to any device. This has led to companies looking more and more at outsourcing their video requirements to cloud solutions in order to reduce costs and increase video compatibility with new platforms (see the Use of Video and ROI section).

A separate report by Forbes titled “Video in the C-Suite: Executives Embrace the Non-Text Web” also had findings from the U.S. suggesting that video, as a business tool used by senior executives, is continuing to gain ground.

A similar study in 2009 showed that 41% of executives aged 50 and older watched videos at least weekly, and the 2010 study saw that number increase to 66%. Among all executives, 83% also said they were watching more video online today than they were last year; evidence within the report suggested that the younger the executives, the more receptive they were to video.

There was also compelling data about what this audience was likely to do after watching video content: 65% would visit the vendor’s site, 39% would call the vendor, and 42% would make a purchase. These numbers are surprisingly high, suggesting that senior decision makers are not only beginning to engage with video online in a significant way but also to act on it. This type of data has helped to drive forward the use of video content by companies not only to the general consumers, but also in the business-to-business (B2B) environment.

The report also suggests that this audience was behaving in a similar way to the audience at large, with 54% of executives saying they share videos with colleagues on at least a weekly basis, which leads to another key trend.

Social Science

Facebook and Twitter have, for some time, been the fastest-growing referrers of online video. In a report from TubeMogul called “Online Video and the Media Industry,” the findings of which cover 4Q 2010, Facebook showed further growth in its referral of video streams (11.8% of total referrals) having surpassed Yahoo! in 3Q 2010.

Twitter is still a rather smaller referrer of video streams at less than 2% of total referrals, but it has still shown high levels of growth over the last 12 months. That said, Google remains the most significant source of referrals, having more than the other top referrers (Facebook, Yahoo!, Bing, and Twitter) put together. However, brands experienced much higher rates of engagement (average viewing time of more than 2:20 minutes) through referrals from both Twitter and Yahoo!.

For search engines, higher engagement rates seem to come from users seeking breaking news. For social media sites, the higher level of engagement seems to come from entertainment or viral-based content that is more suited to the recommended-by-a-friend model.

Video content on all platforms is clearly now very well embedded, with nearly 85% of brand managers saying they’re using online video for marketing products and services. Of those who aren’t, 75% plan to do so within the next 12 months. However, there is some suggestion that the ROI models and tracking of video input from marketing and sales isn’t quite established, as 66% of brand managers said that “branding and awareness” is the No. 1 use of online video, only 21% use video to generate leads, and a very low 12% use it to drive sales.

Search is still the key way to get video content seen, which means companies look to exploit this growth in video content from a social media perspective and by using video search engine optimisation (VSEO).

There was significant growth in the use of user-generated content (UGC) for both VSEO and social media campaigns, but over the last year there has been a more structured approach to garner higher quality results. This occurred in two significant ways.

The Doritos King of Ads campaign offered the opportunity for anyone to submit a 29-second advert, and the website received more than 2,000 entries after a multistrand promotion on packaging, via partners such as Channel 4 and and through interested third-party sites such as young filmmaker networks.

The contest offered a prize of up to £200,000 for the winner along with airtime for the advert. A month before the close of the competition, there had been 2.5 million minutes spent on the website by users and an impressive 145,000 shares of the top-ranked adverts via Facebook and Twitter. The campaign built a strand of four programmes featuring some of the best entries and showed the judging process of the final 15 shortlist. The top three were put to a public vote.

Despite the Doritos campaign being open to anyone, the way in which it was promoted to niche audiences, such as amateur filmmakers and students, along with considerable high-quality prizes and opportunities seemed to help it engineer a high quality of entry. This is a tactic that campaigns such as these seem to be using to ensure a significant base of good quality UGC.

Another example, Channel 4’s Twist Our Words campaign, shows clearly how organisations are trying to drive better output by limiting the material that users have access to in order to create their new content.

Users can create their own sentences from individual words recorded by Channel 4 presenters. They can then register to receive an embed code or a link for use on Twitter or Facebook. Channel 4 will also select the best videos to air in promotional airtime, again offering a significant prize while keeping the barrier to entry low.

Tom Tagholm, creative head at 4 Creative, said at the time of launch, “(Users) are free to use Channel 4 as a giant message board, a place to do their thing, be funny, be creative, be absurd, maybe even be deep and serious. They do the clever stuff, we just curate. It’s a less rigid, more fluid and inclusive way to look at how to build a channel campaign.

“With Twist, we blur the line between digital and on-air. The online element is not an afterthought or a nice-to-have, it’s an integral part of the experience,” he added.

Ideas about how to increase the quality of outputs also fed into corporate thinking on generating user content, particularly around internal communication campaigns where budgets were significantly smaller.

A key idea involved supporting those generating content to increase the overall content quality. This was used in two ways, first where production professionals reshot some of the user stories that were submitted and judged to be prize-winning, and second by having a professional help the winners develop their ideas into something more high quality, whether by giving them guidance on scripting or simply techniques of shooting and editing. This approach had a number of benefits, including a more consistent look and feel to the content as well as a generally higher level of production and therefore content that is more appealing and can be used across a number of platforms.

Use of Video and ROI

The final theme of the year was driven by increasing pressure on delivering even more bang for your buck in terms of ROI on video content. This led to companies getting serious about the way in which they managed, catalogued, and exploited their content.

Finally, much of the video distribution to third-party video sites (e.g., YouTube) was taken out of the hands of the interns who did the channel because only “they knew how to do it” or agencies that had used it for one-off campaigns. Companies began to look at how to exploit their existing and specifically created assets on these and their own channels to deliver a unified programmatic content experience.

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