Are you making the most of your video assets? An April comScore report showed that U.S. Internet viewers watched more than 10 billion online videos in February, a year-over-year increase of 66%. Marketers looking to take advantage of this booming channel must consider not only the best ways to use video on their Web sites and in online ads but also the biggest pitfalls to avoid. Here are seven missteps to avoid if you want to become a video maven:
1) Going too long or too short—or running your ad too often. Companies that create videos to support a product or service often fall into the trap of trying to cram too much information into a single video, said Matt Cutler, VP-marketing and analytics with video measurement provider Visible Measures.
“Instead of trying to cover a lot of ground, it's better to focus on single, bite-sized topics,” he said. “You don't want people to navigate away. Let people click and watch something for two minutes rather than having to click and watch for 10 minutes about 10 different points.”
In terms of length of preroll, in-banner or overlay video, try and match your ad's length to the programming or content that it surrounds, said Jason Glickman, CEO of video advertising network Tremor Media. You don't want to force viewers to sit through 15 seconds of preroll before watching a 10-second clip. Also, make sure your video network lets you attach a frequency cap to your campaign, he said.
“The ability to make sure visitors don't see an ad too often is very important,” he said. “It used to be that preroll was baked into a piece of content, but now most companies use dynamic insertion using cookies.”
Glickman suggested a cap of one view per 24-hour period, but that may change depending on your campaign or needs.
2) Forgetting to consider adjacent content. Those marketers that choose video overlays—ads that are positioned on top of or around a video—should be very careful about content they're paired up with, said Sam Kadambi, co-founder and CEO of video advertising network YuMe. “We've seen people do overlays, and they have no idea what the content is like,” he said.
As a result, overlays often cover up key video content elements or don't match the subject matter. “You should look for placements that reach the right audience,” he said. “What tends to happen is people are in a rush to get their video advertising out there, so they choose ad networks that aren't transparent about where they are placing those ads and ... the ads get placed near or before content that doesn't go with their ad or their brand message.”
3) Not promoting your video content. If you're using webinars, downloadable video or video blogs on your Web site, you have to promote them to get attention, said Jeremy Lockhorn, director-advanced marketing solutions for interactive agency Avenue A|Razorfish. This means advertising your video efforts everywhere you can—on business cards, on your company's blog, on your community page, in your e-mail marketing efforts and on video distribution sites such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Metacafe. You should also enable video sharing so viewers can “seed” the Web for you, Lockhorn said.
“Sometimes marketers tend to turn off [video sharing] because they get afraid when they think about where their video might end up,” he said. “The fact is, people are going to share videos that they like whether you like it or not, so why not make it easier for them?”
4) Choosing an obscure file format or the wrong bitrate. Your video should be intuitive to use and easy to watch, said Kris Alexander, product line director for media, Akamai, a provider of Web application performance management and content delivery services. But there are still marketers out there encoding their videos at the wrong bitrate—either too high or too low, which affects video quality—or using a file format that doesn't have a lot of support.
Adobe Flash and Microsoft Windows Media Player formats are widely supported, so your intended recipient won't have to download a new player, something that can be a turn-off, Alexander said. “Microsoft's Silverlight player is also getting good penetration,” he suggested.
As for bitrate: Shoot for encoding between 350 to 500 or 600 kbps. Much more and the video is going to skip and pop; much less and the quality will suffer tremendously.
5) Overlooking analytics. Video has the unique position of having not just one or two metrics associated with it but many. You can see whether or not someone downloaded or played a video; how long they watched it; whether or not they rewound, fast-forwarded or paused it; and if they took action before, during or after viewing.
If you're using a third-party delivery mechanism, that publisher or ad network should have these metrics available to you, said Phil Kaplan, chief strategy officer with content delivery network Internap Network Services Corp. “You have a right to know who watched your video and if they watched it all the way through,” he said. “If you're an advertiser and you're spending money, any publisher or network should be willing to share this information with you.”
6) Overlooking a call to action. If your only goal is brand awareness, you might not care whether or not there's a way for viewers to talk back or get more information. But for most marketers, the call to action is going to be as important as the video itself, said Steve Gogolak, director of media and webcasting for Cramer, a digital marketing and events solutions agency.
Webcasts in particular provide the perfect environment for finding out as much as you can about who is watching your video. You can include Q&A sessions; polls; pre- or postvideo comment forms; and other interactive elements. You can also provide links to additional content on your Web site and get people to opt in for e-mail marketing, he said.
“Video isn't just about you putting information out there,” he said. “It's about getting information back as well.”
7) Skipping the testing phases. You're probably doing A/B testing with the majority of your media buys. Video should be no exception, Glickman said. Well-placed, well-targeted video has a 90% completion rate, he said. One smart strategy: Use a third-party ad server that integrates with your other advertising and financial reporting software. “This lets you track in real time, see how things are performing and swap creative on the fly,” he said. M