Why no one watched your branded video

jamie crickThe majority of brand funded videos only draw a handful of viewers. Jamie Crick argues marketers are failing to take a very basic principle into account when drawing up their plans. 

Asked to name two marketing growth areas, many would pick online video and content marketing.

Both ultimately owe their ascent to the bandwidth improvements that are shifting consumer demand away from scheduled programming – and they’re coming together as never before now that the SVOD market has reached a level of maturity in Australia.

This is not new news, but whereas five years ago the typical branded video brief was to ‘make something viral’, thankfully now there’s generally an understanding that content marketing (including video), should have a longer-term view than just one-off (hopeful) hits.

The result of this, however, has been a plethora of beautifully produced videos whose view counters rarely break the hundreds, leaving disappointed and disaffected marketers in their wake.

It at least partially explains why the Content Marketing Institute reports only 29 per cent of Australian marketers feel they’re getting their content marketing right, despite the vast majority taking part in it and planning to spend more in 2015.

So why is no-one watching your videos? The chances are some of them at least would genuinely be appreciated by their target audience and yet for some reason they haven’t watched them, let alone left a comment or passed them on to a friend.

In truth, there are hundreds of possible reasons but chief among them, I suspect, is that they haven’t been genuinely produced or distributed with the audience (or, for that matter, the platform) in mind.

I was astonished to watch an executive of a popular “viral news” site recently describe their hierarchy for creating branded content as brand needs first, then their own and finally the audience’s.

And this is the problem with most branded content: if a brand doesn’t have anything to say that would interest, entertain or give utility to its target audience, it would be better off saying nothing. And yet reams of nice-to-look-at content is being pumped out that fulfils practically nothing but the brand’s needs.

The definition of content marketing madness is producing content and then hoping it will find its audience. The first step has to be understanding what your target audience is interested in consuming and, equally importantly, where they want to consume it. In other words, content and audience strategies have to be formed side-by-side.

But most content marketing is either performed with no real audience strategy at all or, at best, one that doesn’t get much consideration until it’s time to publish.

People have a genuine appetite for content that emotionally connects, and video has the power to do that like no other medium. But equally, no two audiences’ tastes are exactly alike, so why would you not make content that your target is predisposed to appreciate and deliver it to them where they’ve demonstrated they want to consume it?

Any branded content strategy should start and end with the audience using insights derived from real data so that any content you produce and distribute goes out into the world with an unfair advantage. When there are more than 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, would you have it any other way?

  • Jamie Crick is the strategic partnerships & audience director at Emotive

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