Primetime: How and Why to Leverage Video as Digital Ad Spend Surpasses TV

Opinion: Human brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text

Video can turn even the most suspicious skeptics into brand loyalists
AntonioGuillem/iStock

Television isn’t dying, but it is changing.

Commercials today are not standalone ads: They’re integrated parts of multichannel strategies.

Intuit, for example, masterfully used video in a recent campaign on multiple platforms to increase its brand awareness. The centerpiece—an animated story about a robot—aired during the Super Bowl, on social media platforms and on the company’s website.

Each manifestation of the campaign varied in length and content, but the subject remained consistent—and the strategy worked. Within one week, the video gained nearly 17 million views. A post-campaign brand survey found that Intuit’s brand awareness rose 17 percent.

While Intuit found success on the tube, however, other brands turned away. Television ad spend dropped last year for the first time in almost a decade, and a report from eMarketer suggests that TV spend will never recover to its former glory. According to the report, TV’s share of media spend in the U.S. is on track to drop from 33.9 percent in 2017 to under 25 percent by 2022.

With TV on the decline, users and brands are turning to the web for their video ad fix. But what role does video marketing play, and how is it different from the role TV played for so long?

Old tactic, new world

Ads on TV are primarily focused on brand awareness, not direct response. This works well for large companies, like Coca-Cola, which must keep their brands top of mind. Big-time events like the Super Bowl, while pricey and getting pricier, guarantee placement in front of millions of people.

TV sounds like a big-name game, but smaller brands can still get value from the platform. Because digital ads are notoriously cheap, small companies usually turn to the internet to advertise. That leaves television channels scrambling to fill ad space. Small brands can get great deals on commercial placements, and then create integrated campaigns to boost brand awareness even further.

But TV is just the beginning. Digital is both the future and present of successful video marketing.

YouTube users watch more than 1 billion hours of video every day, and 82 percent of Twitter users consume video content on the platform. Online advertising is more affordable, more targeted and more effective. The days of, “Call now!” are over; the era of, “Click here!” is upon us.

Video isn’t the only type of online content, but it is the most powerful. According to Business 2 Community, human brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Video allows brands to share information more quickly, using a visual format that grabs attention better than long-winded posts. By appealing to emotion, video ads create more visceral reactions in audiences and encourage them to act more quickly.

Now that online videos are so cheap, marketers can get more for their money by testing variations of their content. Different tones, information, audiences, platforms—everything about online video is subject to testing. When the video is just right, it accelerates the buyer journey like nothing else can.

Video throughout the purchase journey

Standard procedure says business-to-business brands should advertise on LinkedIn, while business-to-consumer brands should spend their time on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Most brands follow this line of thinking, with 79 percent of B2B marketers on LinkedIn compared with 47 percent of B2C. The roles switch (57 percent to 72 percent) on Instagram.

However, general rules like this one should not lock brands out of platforms before they try them. Instead, marketers should test several tactics to connect with their target audiences through video.

Here are a few tips to incorporate video throughout different stages of the buyer’s journey across platforms:

  • Awareness: In addition to 30-second digital commercials, make informative videos—not advertisements—that help your audience understand the problem you solve. For example, if your product helps people alleviate stress through meditation, make a video about the causes of stress and the importance of managing it. These videos can be longer because audiences are more willing to dedicate their time to a video without a sales pitch. Track views and retarget viewers who spend more than 20 seconds or so on your educational video. Follow up with a stronger sales message about how your brand directly helps with the problem.
  • Consideration: At this stage, viewers are interested in your product. Now, you can nurture them toward purchase using video. Make frequently-asked-questions videos to show prospects how the product will make their lives better. Create how-it-works videos and other product-specific educational content to provide real value centered on the brand, not just the area of interest. Keep consideration stage videos between 30 seconds and 120 seconds and use Facebook ads to share them with potential buyers.
  • Decision: When viewers are ready to choose, your final videos make them choose you. Interested parties in the decision phase actively request information about your product, so provide them with great content to seal the deal. This is a perfect opportunity to share testimonial videos of happy customers describing the product in their own words. The more authentic the story, the more engaged the prospects watching will be. Case study videos can also help prospects put themselves in the shoes of people whose lives were improved by the product. Use AdWords retargeting on Facebook to put the right videos in front of the right audience.

Video can turn even the most suspicious skeptics into brand loyalists, but only if you show them the right information during the right parts of their buyer journey. Understand what information people need and when they need it, and then design video content to meet that need at every turn. Think about how a robust digital video strategy could supercharge your next integrated marketing campaign.

Hope Horner is founder and CEO of Lemonlight Video Production, which produces branded video content at scale.