This is a question that gets asked a lot. It’s definitely a valid one and the answer isn’t “ALWAYS!”

Video definitely has it’s many uses. It has it’s places where it outperforms everything else and places where it works well as a supplement to a process. Sometimes a video is the most efficient way to convey something, which is a key point.

Where Does Video Outperform Other Options?

The places where highly produced video outperforms other options is mainly: where it’s expected.

I know that sounds like an obvious point, but it’s an important one. Let’s think for a moment about where video is an expectation and why. The big brands of the world understand this and all advertise on these platforms.

TV

Television is a place where people expect video. It’s also a good place to look and see which videos work well and which ones don’t.

Picture this with me for a moment. It’s 9 PM on a Wednesday night. You’re sitting on your sofa watching the game and there’s a commercial break.

Immediately the ads start to roll in. First up, there’s an ad from Coca’cola. Maybe it’s one of those “Share a Coke” ads, those were super cool (and they freaking worked).

There was this one that stood out to me around Christmastime where this young kid is sneaking around and leaving a Coke for everyone to find. He does it in secret, doesn’t wait for a thank you, he just wanted to share the love.

That one always gave me a warm smile… One sec… Sipping my Coke Zero.

Then there are those other ads, the ones much more easily ignored, begging for the sale. Call this number, get this, get that. BUY BUY BUY.

Sometimes those are effective, but usually they are ignored. Why? Because you’re sitting on your sofa! You’re relaxing and watching the game, you’re not thinking about anything like that.

YouTube

Anyone watch YouTube videos? Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine? Second only to Google. Yikes. That’s something for sure. Every day more content is uploaded to YouTube around the world than a single person could watch in their entire LIFETIME. Wowza. I guess people use YouTube, huh?

YouTube ads are great, but you must remember one key point:

Your ads are interrupting people’s videos.

There are three types effective YouTube ads:

  1. Short and Awesome (5s is ideal because it can’t be skipped, 15s also sometimes works)
  2. Guerrilla Style Longer Videos that feel a lot like popular YouTube content
  3. Educational previews that give away really valuable insider information

People are on YouTube to be entertained or to learn. If you add to that experience, you win. Plain and simple. If you distract from that experience, you lose.

Sounds easy enough. Right?

“Short and Awesome” videos need to be highly creative and and highly produced. You only have a few seconds to be remembered, it needs to be right. Most times this can be adapted from the available footage from a TV Commercial. We’ll need to plan ahead and get specific takes for each medium.

Guerrilla Style Longer Videos rely on catching attention and engaging the viewer so that they actually shift toward wanting to watch this content. This YouTube-ish style is an art form. Many people have built successful content creation businesses that exist purely on YouTube. For some business, a full YouTube channel can be a great educational and marketing tool as well as a revenue source.

Educational previews work really well for things like master classes. A 60 second preview of the actual course, rather than a promo for the course. Essentially, a good product sells itself.

Facebook & Instagram

These social media platforms are different than others. Video content here is effective, but in a much different way. Your same video that works on YouTube will not work here without adjustments.

The main weird thing that these two platforms have in common is that people don’t have sound turned on. For TV and YouTube, sound is VERY important. People are expecting it. But on Facebook and Instagram, they don’t have it on.

The crazy thing is that they’ve found that this preference extends to any link they click on as well. They don’t want sound.

The reason for this is nested in WHEN people are browsing Facebook and Instagram. People normally pull out their phones and browse when in the company of others. People watch YouTube in private, but browse Social Media in public. They don’t want to be the person who played the loud video in line at Starbucks. Or have their phone explode with a noise that sounds weird and uncomfortable when you don’t see the associated video. Eek. Awkward.

Another thing to consider that is more technical is that these platforms use a form factor of a square (1 x 1), as opposed to normal HD video (16 x 9). The square format is very similar to the old VHS format (4 x 3). This was done by pan and scan, reformatting the movie to fit the screen. This has to be done properly it just looks bad.

So the videos for these platforms can be great tools, you have to create a different version of the video that uses text animations to convey what sound normally would. You can have the sound there as an option, but it won’t be enabled by default. You don’t want to lose out on effectiveness because this was ignored.

Movie Theater Advertising

This is another place where it’s pretty obvious that people are expecting video content. I mean, they are there to see a movie… Makes sense. This is a good brand awareness opportunity for larger companies. It’s something to keep in mind, but usually isn’t first on the list.