But it’s not just video watching that is enjoying a surge in popularity, it's also video sharing. Last week, a 30-minute video about an African warlord became a web phenomenon, racking up over 50 million viewings in a matter of days since it was uploaded. The video, dubbed KONY 2012, attracted over one million 'likes' - and 50,000 dislikes - and related topics spent much of the past week trending on Twitter.
While the campaign has attracted controversy, the film-makers had achieved the virality that they had planned for - the video delivered remarkable awareness of their message.
Marketers are seeing the advertising opportunity created by the growing popularity of online video and steering their budget towards it in an attempt to create engaging branded content.
Fatia SH, Media Product Manager of Comelite IT Solutions, explains that as more people watch videos online, advertisers understand they need to be where their audiences are. “More and more brands are realizing that, so the budgets are increasing dramatically,” she says. “There are some brands that are making social video the very heart of their advertising strategy and really harnessing the power of the format to engage and make an emotional connection with their audiences and influence them, as well as build relationships.”
“Video content in particular is expensive so it needs to be funded, but the one drawback of the web is that people have got used to the idea of content being free. There are two forces working in parallel - one is that it needs to be paid for and so publishers of any description are always looking for a way to pay for that content; and the other parallel is that marketers are always looking for engaged audiences to put their brands in front of.”
But video advertising can be worth every penny of the investment if it is shared. A recent study by Unruly Media and Decipher Research to measure the effectiveness of video advertising found that viewers are more likely to recall a branded video if it has been recommended than when viewed through browsing. Viewers are also more likely to engage with an ad’s message when the video has been recommended than when encountered through browsing, according to the study.
Videos can be shared across the usual social networks of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as well as blogs. Google’s social network has been particularly hailed as effective for brand advertisement, as videos can be shared to a much more targeted audience via circles. As owner of YouTube, the Google+ hangout feature means YouTube videos can be viewed by multiple people sharing in the viewing experience. Videos can also be shared across the network and viewers can register their liking of the video via the +1 button.
New social network on the block Pinterest is also being collared as an effective platform to share video. Pinterest users can use the ‘Pin it’ bookmarklet to redirect YouTube videos to their ‘pin boards’ which other users can then ‘repin’ to their own boards, comment and like. Although the network only currently supports videos from YouTube, they are working on adding support for other video sites.
For brands still in the early stages of optimizing social video marketing, Fatia explains that “Content is King”. Here, she provides some advice:
•Content - create content that people want to watch. If they enjoy it, they'll share it.
•Portable - make it as easy as possible for people to share.
•Longevity - create content that will deliver long-term value to the brand.
•Budget - invest in your video strategy.
Speaking on the masses of content uploaded to YouTube each second, she says: “The battle for brands is to win consumer's attention. That's why it's important to have a distribution strategy, to make sure brands are working with partners to hit their target audience and to make sure the content is in places where it's going to be enjoyed, going to be shared and really get the results that it wants.”
The future of video
With the viewing and spending reported to continue increasing, online video advertising shows no signs of slowing down. Fatia SH says: “It’s been a bright spark in the overall advertising marketplace for a few years but it’s still a massive opportunity that's unrealized.
“The ability to tell a story across multiple screens is still not being talked about. Brands often talk about frequency capping but that's missing the point - what if your user is interested in your brand but they're fed up of seeing that one ad three or four times? They still want to see your brand.”
He concludes: “Instead of frequency capping, frequency serve. Change the creative you serve depending on whether the user is seeing any of those ads before. We’re going to see continued growth in the medium both in the viewers and in spend and you'll see a layer of knowledge being applied so it can be bought, sold and applied in a much more effective way.”