Video marketing: A beginner’s guide

Here Marketing Week looks at some of the core issues that brands should consider around video marketing.

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Creating a video marketing strategy

Devising an effective video strategy is no mean feat. Although the barriers to entry are lower for brands compared to other media channels such as TV or cinema, marketers must think carefully about the type of video content they produce, the audience it is aimed at and the platforms on which it is shared.

Although marketers can create and publish videos with relative ease, they should aim to take a scientific approach to their video strategy. For publisher Time Inc that means looking at the data rather than doing things on a hunch.

The publisher has also experimented with a range of different video formats across its brands. Look magazine, for example, creates tutorials and has used shoppable Facebook Live videos to help monetise partnerships with brands like Asos and Benefit Cosmetics.

Creating a recurring series of content is another way to build audiences. For example, one video in the #MumWins series created by Time Inc’s Good to Know site attracted 49 million views on

READ MORE: How to devise an effective video strategy

Choosing a video format

From a 15-minute series to six-second Snapchat clips, the sheer volume of video formats and channels available means marketers need to carefully consider how video works for their specific brand. These are the options:

Long-form video

As the home of long-form video content, YouTube is a favourite with brands looking to break the conventions of TV schedules and go direct to consumers. Buzzfeed attracts seven billion global views each month so is firmly of the belief digital shows can break through at scale. In fact, one in six people in the UK currently subscribes to one of BuzzFeed’s Tasty food channels on YouTube.

Beauty brand Benefit, meanwhile, opts for YouTube when it wants to generate the mass awareness needed to promote a new product. However, quantity doesn’t beat quality. Head of digital marketing for Benefit UK and Ireland, Michelle Stoodley, says the brand attempted to do one video a week on YouTube last year but didn’t quite appreciate the work involved, the time needed and the budgets so now believes less is more.

Short-form video

Whether it’s a six-second Snapchat clip or a polished, high-end Instagram Stories campaign, marketers are increasingly adding short-form video to their media mix. This means marketers are experimenting with how to use the screen space to make a real impact.

The square format of Instagram and the vertical nature of Snapchat can both present a challenge when it comes to figuring out assets, however. But despite the issues with viewability and impact, Mondelez’s digital and social media manager, Pollyanna Ward says it has taught the brand that when it comes to creative, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, which is a valuable lesson.

User-generated content

Content created by brand fans, influencers and staff has been a big success for Benefit. To coincide with the roll-out of its mascara Roller Lash in 2015, Benefit created a montage video featuring user-generated content (UGC) posted by consumers.

It gets store-based employees involved in creating tutorials, which the brand says consumers respond well to.

READ MORE: When to use video: The ultimate guide

Live video

Livestreaming is currently being tried, tested and launched via various platforms. Twitter announced its plans for a 24/7 live video stream in April, Facebook and YouTube continue to try and grow their live offering and other players in the market are proving their worth.

Brands can advertise against live video streams to reach a desired audience but increasingly it’s a way for brands to create their own live content.

Aside from creating this content with Google, Facebook and Twitter, other platforms are emerging that offer the tools to take control and brand a video experience rather than having to use the existing platforms and all that comes with them.

One example is Telefónica’s livestreaming tool Xtreamr, which is designed to help brands, content producers and TV broadcasters create interactive live experiences for audiences via a web tool and mobile app.


Instagram stories Airbnb
Airbnb used Instagram Stories to build awareness of its Airbnb Experiences offer.

Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all offer a ‘stories’ function on their sites. Stories originated with Snapchat in 2013 and allows users of the social media platform to play a series of ‘snaps’ or videos in one sequence. Instagram and Facebook followed suit in 2016 and 2017 with their own not dissimilar versions of the feature.

A report in TechCrunch found that view counts on Snapchat Stories dropped by 15-40% after the launch of Instagram Stories, and posting volume declined as well so there is much competition in this area. These functions are now open to brands to create their own stories and Instagram seems to be stealing a lot of the limelight.

READ MORE: From stories to livestreaming: The newest video formats for brands

Choosing the right screen size

Brands need to ensure they are thinking about creating content specifically for screen size to make sure it is relevant to the device, particularly mobile.

Teads’ research, conducted with Ipsos, shows that mobile-optimised square video formats drive 66% more completed views than horizontal creative when viewed on mobile devices.

It also shows that outstream vertical and square formats are the least intrusive of all mobile ads, driving a 39% enhancement in user experience. Vertical formats achieve 83% higher ad recall than the horizontal format, with square ads achieving 60% better ad recall.

Autoplay and a lack of sound

It’s no longer a viable option for brands to simply repurpose TV ads for use on other channels. A 30-second TV ad might work OK as a pre-roll but its message could be lost if it is autoplayed in a news feed or on social media.

Understanding users’ context is also key. This means thinking about how a video is being viewed, which is often without sound. While it does present a challenge it also gives marketers the opportunity to be creative and design content specifically without sound.

Measuring video

Many marketers are scratching their heads when it comes to understanding how to successfully measure video effectiveness, with many relying too heavily on completion rate.

Measurement is still not sophisticated, with some suggesting the fact Facebook and Google partner with Nielsen means the standard ad recall and impact on perception video metrics are too much like above-the-line measures so not fit for purpose.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson: Facebook’s erroneous video metrics show no one has a clue about digital

Collecting data like impressions, video views or average completion rates does not in itself prove that customers or prospects have remembered, enjoyed, felt persuaded by or done anything different because of a branded video.

Instead marketers should be asking questions around whether video views lead to brand or product advocacy, argues Andre van Loon, research and insight director at We Are Social, as well as if they were successful in reinforcing existing attitudes or behaviours, or creating new ones, and if a brand’s videos impacted on consumers’ purchase intentions or increased sales.

READ MORE: How to measure video effectiveness

Video on a budget

Brands need to make sure they achieve the right look and feel, while at the same time making a big impact. Here are some straightforward tips to make the most of a small budget when making video:

Plan your video

It is easy for brands to dive straight into filming without any consideration of the video’s message, timing or desired outcome. Planning ahead means the project will be less likely to go over budget, helping brands avoid expensive reshoots and wasted investment.

READ MORE: How to devise an effective video strategy

Brands should firstly define their goals and what they want the video to achieve. Clarity on the video’s key messages will ensure marketers stay on track. Each piece of video content should also include a call to action, which acts as an instruction for the viewer and helps to provoke an immediate response. If the goal is to drive traffic to a website or sign people up to a newsletter, then define this at the outset and build a call to action into the video that looks to achieve this.

Be resourceful with video equipment

Be it your phone or a professional DSLR camera, making video has never been more democratised, with influencers shooting quality video straight from their bedrooms with little kit or money.

Re-use old video

Re-editing past video footage is a cost-effective method of getting more bang for your buck – don’t avoid using footage just because it is old. Videos can also be freshened up with new music and by working with the frames from a different angle to produce something new.

Avoid video pitfalls

Some brands create a piece of video content just for the sake of it, while others take a one-size-fits-all approach, placing the same video on every social media platform.

To avoid these problems, make video social media ready. In practice, this means personalising video for the chosen social media platform and understanding each channel.

It’s also important to identify each social media platform’s optimal video format. The horizontal video aspect ratio that was once the gold standard for social and online video has been proven less effective in engagement than vertical and square videos, especially thanks to Snapchat.

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