Brands are betting more every year on digital video. But as they optimize the performance of their video content, it’s not just consumers’ eyeballs they’re catching; it’s the entire industry’s.
As performance video grows in popularity, it’s leading actors and marketers alike to take a deeper look at the data. Actors can now predict their chances of success with 85% accuracy, thanks to a model developed at Queen Mary University of London. And in 2018, more than a quarter of marketers surveyed by Wyzowl created video content for the first time — with the top reason being that it was easier to convince others of video’s ROI.
Performance video isn’t just bringing rigor to the field, either. Take a look at the content, and you’ll see performance video’s mark there as well.
Experimentation is in
Not long ago, video content came in just a few lengths. Television ads could be 30 or 60 seconds.
Films could be between one and three hours. Not only are today’s formats less rigid, but video producers are testing boundaries in both directions.
Although much of the reason is that the internet allows for videos of any length, another part of it is that marketers have studied how video ad lengths correlate to conversions. What they found was that mid-length ads, at 21-25 seconds, fared worse than those that were either shorter or longer.
Since then, brands have started putting that data to the test. In partnership with performance video company TubeScience, Molekule created a series of Facebook video ads. The air purification firm then used Facebook’s campaign budget optimization feature to determine its top performers. By shifting spend toward those ads, some of which were mere seconds long, Molekule gained a 25% greater return on its ad spend.
Interestingly, Lexus has taken its video content in an entirely different, documentary-appropriate direction. At New York City’s DOC NYC festival, the luxury automaker showed “Takumi,” a film about how craftsmen might survive an AI-fueled world. Although Lexus showed a 54-minute cut, it’s placing a 60,000-hour version online, reflecting the Japanese idea that mastering a craft takes 60,000 hours.
Actor alignment is top of mind
Choosing an actor is complex. Does his or her persona align with the mood of the piece? Does he or she mesh with the other cast and crew members? Is the price point right? Performance video asks another question: How close is the actor-audience fit?
To see what a great fit looks like, consider CenturyLink’s choice of singer Kelvin Jones for its recent Facebook video ads. The telecommunications company hails from Louisiana, the state with the second largest African-American population, but it also serves customers in more than 60 countries. Jones, a black British-Zimbabwean, is a strong reflection of its myriad audiences.
But ethnicity and nationality are just two pieces of actor-audience fit. Performance video producers know that to maximize their chances of converting leads, they need to choose actors who are holistically aligned with their viewers. Actors’ style, values, energy level, age, and gender must all be accounted for.
Product placement is booming
The direct response videos favored by performance marketers have had at least one more impact on the broader field: proving to producers that viewers willingly engage with content that features products.
The film and television sectors have certainly taken notice: In 2017, the product placement market grew by 13.7%. Although industry researcher PQ Media has yet to release its full 2018 data, it notes that 2018 appears to be another year of double-digit growth.
In that vein, expect to see product placements become even bolder and more common. Especially following the two latest LEGO Movie successes, brands will venture deeper into branded video content. Both branded and direct response videos will attract higher-caliber actors and larger brands.
Frankly, the changes brought by performance video are long overdue. From the perspective of both viewers and marketers, experimentation produces better content. Diverse actors better reflect their fans. Tasteful product placements inform viewers without distracting from the message. Thanks to performance video, optimization is the name of the game.