ABCs of Online Video: Building a Strategy

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Measuring Online Video Success

Online (text) content creators and aggregators are known for collecting user data to gain a better understanding of what content interests site visitors. The process is basically the same for video content. Wendkos explains that TrueFire uses analytical and data-mining tools to gain insight into such metrics as how long a customer is working with a particular video.

"You can't always tell you have a good product, even if you sell a lot of it," says Wendkos. "But now, we get the feedback and now we know for certain if we have a great product or not."

Such data can be beneficial when content providers continue to develop their online video strategies. Customer feedback can help them determine the specific content that should be available in a video format and even provide insights into how long an effective piece of video should be. Palmer suggests "making shorter video snippets," specifically, pieces that are fewer than 2 minutes long.

More Eyes on Video

Wendkos says one reason video has become a popular option is that it is more affordable than ever and that the quality of streams is solid. He attributes some of the success of online video to social media. He notes how social media has been effective in bringing people with similar interests together in an environment in which they can interact with each other.

He says one thing Mirror Image Internet, Inc., a content delivery solution provider, has enabled TrueFire to do is expand the breadth of its customer base. In the beginning, most students were based in the U.S. While 95% of the student body was domestic, that number is now 40%; students from 150 geocountries and territories now make up the majority of the student body.

Mirror Image also helps TrueFire reach those customers regardless of how they choose to access the video. "We detect the device type and we deliver content that is specific to the device," says Martin Hayward, director of marketing for Mirror Image.

"The reach makes a big difference," says Wendkos. "From the different cultures and different people, you're getting feedback you would never get from a DVD. Online, they can stream the video, they can rate it, make comments. They're much more apt to give you feedback. If I can get that feedback, I can make my product better."

Wendkos adds that some of the features that were built-in to the Mirror Image platform help TrueFire make a more robust product offering. He points to things such as looping, slow motion, and zooming-"things you can't do with a DVD. Now students are getting higher quality content, and digital tools they can use to control the video experience. If you give them a whole choice of tools, they'll find what works best for them," says Wendkos. "At the end of the day, there's no question that we're delivering a better product than even five years ago."

IA has found that the addition of video content has increased interest in the association from potential members. "We definitely have had members join to get the specific value of the video department," says West, noting that the association's board members also see the value in video. "The most common example is that our government affairs department went to Capitol Hill to have conversations with members of certain committees and the FCC; something that would have had a profound effect on our industry. We videotaped that, which helped them amplify the message and helped get the membership on board," says West.

Expanding Beyond Your Site: Viral Video

While publishers and other content providers continue to add value and rich content in the form of video on their own sites, they shouldn't stop there. Weitz suggests using YouTube as an ancillary channel for video content. "Even if most of the video is on your own site-where it should be-you need to have video on YouTube," says Weitz, noting that YouTube content should include clips and links to the publisher's own site. "You need to give [viewers] motivation to go to your site," says Weitz. "It needs to be updated regularly." Weitz says to consider creating an editorial calendar just for video content.

Many companies, says Weitz, are seeing positive results from using YouTube and implementing video as a competitive advantage. He notes that companies can bolster the effects of YouTube by combining it with activities on Facebook and Twitter. He suggests becoming active on Twitter and motivating people to retweet video links. In addition, he suggests creating a Facebook strategy similar to the YouTube one. "Post some, but not all, of your videos and get people to come to your site," says Weitz.

One question clients ask, according to Weitz, is how to tap into viral video trends. He says that there are three things that make videos viral: They need to address a specific core audience, they need to tell a story and be short, and they need to be visually rich and visually surprising.

Benjamin Sargent, content globalization strategist at Common Sense Advisory, Inc., agrees that creating viral video is a main goal at this point. "There's been a real focus on creating the viral video that will bring notoriety to your company," Sargent says.

Measure Results, Watch Video Assets Grow

Finally, Weitz says it's important to keep track of video assets and regularly assess their value. Weitz said companies sometimes forget about measurement. "You need to measure what video is most popular and what works, and what drives the most sales and do more of those things," he says.

The key for company leaders is to create a video strategy that helps organizations accomplish both current and future content goals. "Anybody who's not figuring out how to put video in what they do is going to be left in the dust," predicts Wendkos.

Hayward recalls the popularity of online graphics in the early 2000s and how that popularity has shifted to video. "A video is worth a billion words," he says.
"What's available on the web will shift to what's most suitable" for consumption by site visitors, says Sargent. "Sites using text for everything will lose out." In other words, the web conforms to the needs of users, and savvy publishers would do well to anticipate the needs of their audiences by putting together a comprehensive plan for strategic video.

Resources in This Article

Common Sense Advisory, Inc.
www.commonsenseadvisory.com

Interactive Broadband Consulting Group, LLC
www.ibbconsulting.com

Market7, Inc.
www.market7.com

Mirror Image Internet, Inc.
www.mirror-image.com

Reprints Desk, Inc.
www.reprintsdesk.com

Special Libraries Association (SLA)
www.sla.org

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
www.tiaonline.org

TrueFire
www.truefire.com

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