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Smart ways to market: Why online video like Dumb Ways to Die is the rising star of content marketing/Beverley Head/BRW/Noc 08

28 Jan

Smart ways to market: Why online video like Dumb Ways to Die is the rising star of content marketing

The Dumb Ways to Die campaign has amused millions and won a swag of international awards. But it’s also credited with helping cut Metro train fatalities in Victoria by more than 20 per cent.

Short video clips can get complex ideas across very quickly. Witness McCann’s award-winning animation, Dumb Ways to Die, aimed at raising train safety awareness. The video – which cost less than $300,000 – has secured more than 63 million views on YouTube, spawned a rash of global parodies and won 28 gongs at this year’s Cannes Lions awards. It is also credited with helping reduce the number of fatalities and accidents on Melbourne’s Metro trains by 21 per cent.

Reaching consumers is critical for many businesses, but reaching other businesses, potential clients or partners, and luring the right calibre of employee is also a spur for harnessing more video content.

As founder and chief creative of 50 Kaliber, Dieter Kahsnitz has worked with corporate clients including Coles and BHP Billiton. The company takes a strategic approach to film in marketing – working with clients to develop a strategy and creating and filming a story; delivering that content using everything from the web to QR codes; and orchestrating the management and retrieval of the video content for the future. Kahsnitz says it’s important to work out “who is the audience and what do we want them to do, think, feel and act after they have seen the film?” He warns, though, that film isn’t the best medium to convey a lot of detail, statistics or analysis.

50 Kaliber has produced a series of short films for Coles which show different career options at the company. It has handled similar projects for BHP, because “in resources a bad hire can cost $200,000”, says Kahsnitz.

Does it work? “We started work with Coles 18 months ago. They’ve now commissioned six more films. Coles is a very hard-nosed company. They would not be investing more money if this wasn’t working,” says Kahsnitz.

“It’s a combination of the fact that the audience is used to and demands to see video. For the first time in history you can contact everyone with high-speed internet, and they can see what you are doing free of charge.”

Filtered Media’s founder and chief storyteller Mark Jones says video content is an important medium when telling businesses’ stories, especially given the confluence of 3G and 4G communications networks with powerful hand-held devices allowing easy access to video content. He cites Cisco statistics which suggest that by 2015, 85 per cent of all internet traffic will be video.

Hone your strategy first

Jones says that organisations typically harness video for three purposes: to get attention, to share news, or to show how something works. The cost of marketing videos varies enormously depending on the quality required and the nature of the content.

“In one recent project we flew to all the capital cities to interview staff for a comprehensive ‘about us’ video,” he says, noting that the video was being incorporated into a tender bid.

It’s the first time Jones has seen a video as part of a tender process – but he doubts it will be the last. “People have been using PowerPoint in bid presentations. It’s very easy to embed video on PowerPoint,” he says.

Edge strategy director Richard Parker is convinced of the power of video but says that even with the very best content it’s important to have a delivery strategy carefully worked out ahead of time as video is now a “very crowded space”. He notes the agency for the Dumb Ways to Die video did not rely on the film instantly going viral, instead seeding the campaign with paid media.

Parker adds that organisations also need to be creative about audience engagement. He points to United States company Blendtec which hosts a YouTube channel called “Will it Blend?” A successful attempt to blend an iPad scored more than 16 million views.

“That site has been phenomenal for them and sales have increased,” says Parker. “It’s very simple – a one-minute video. The production quality’s not very high, but they’ve gone for continuity.”

When it comes to developing a content marketing strategy, Parker admits “Australia is a very online nation and despite the fact that we have shit broadband we watch a lot of video”.

But he stresses that success is not just measured by the quantity of viewers – it’s about getting in front of the right people. To that end, Edge examines “the audience we are talking to, their income, needs and emotional triggers. Are they grey nomads? Are they teenagers? We find their channels.”

Parker says most traditional agencies remain focused on above-the-line campaigns focused on mass audiences rather than the subtler niche markets which exist below the line.

Pick your own price

Video marketing above the line is clearly on the rise. An October report from analyst Frost & Sullivan predicted that Australian spending on online video advertising would grow 31 per cent a year, rising from $133 million this year to $513 million by 2018.

The trend is being driven by rising consumer appetite for online video: more than a quarter of smartphone users report watching video content most days. Frost & Sullivan senior research manager Phil Harpur said 1000 Australian consumers had been sampled – while fewer were watching television or movies on a TV screen, more were watching TV shows or other video content over the internet.

They are also watching YouTube and surfing the web – which can take them to below-the-line video initiatives.

As to the cost of video, Parker says: “It’s as expensive as you want [it to be]. We’ve just done a very short social content [project] using iPads for AAMI; a 15-second Instagram animation for Bacardi; or we do short films that cost $10,000 to $15,000. If you’re Rolls Royce you’re not doing home video on an iPad.”

50 Kaliber, which currently has 30 to 40 projects in the works, says that a corporate film costs anywhere between $10,000 and $1.5 million depending on the production values and what is being attempted. Parker notes, though, that companies shouldn’t spend all of their marketing budget on production; it’s also important to invest time and money in working out how to get people to see the content.

Douglas Communications founder Jeanne-Vida Douglas says the cost of producing video content has dropped considerably, and that it is easier to reach a specific target market given the proliferation of online platforms and devices. She also believes marketing departments have learned how to use video content in a far more compelling way than in the past, but agrees with Parker that it’s important to work out up front the audience sought and the mechanics of reaching them.

“It’s about the storytelling,” she says, noting that this is as much the case for business-to-business as business-to-consumer communications. “In my experience, in a B2B market as long as the messages resonated for [my clients] and their challenges then they got traction”, adding that customer profile videos had been particularly successful for a software company client.

According to Kahsnitz: “[If] you put a powerful film up on the internet, combine it with clever marketing, connect to Facebook, Twitter and SEO [search-engine optimise] it, you can reach people.”

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