Video revamp: The myth of virality and the death of pre-roll

When it comes to successful video content, it’s all about asking ‘why’ not ‘how’, writes content producer Tom van Leeuwen.

Ever been asked to make a viral video? In the content marketing industry, it’s not that uncommon…

While this may seem like a casual request, in the world of content it’s roughly akin to asking your newsagent to sell you the next winning scratchie. And yet it’s still among the most prevalent aspirations when it comes to video production.

Yet it wasn’t until after speaking with Unruly’s co-founder and CEO, Sarah Wood, at this year’s AANA Reset Conference that I discovered the question we should be asking ourselves when it comes to viral video is not how – but why.

viral video

Since founding Unruly in 2006, Wood says she now believes there is much more to video success than ‘shareability’. Straight from the source, here are the five principles I picked up:

No one remembers a one-hit wonder
Wood believes we are now in a post-viral landscape due to a widespread state of ‘content shock’. Put simply, Wood says it’s time marketers looked to ‘valuable virality’, which measures video success in ways other than simple shares – such as lead generation, engagement, and brand repositioning.

“Videos can go viral but you always have to ask yourself why you want them to go viral in the first place,” she says. “It needs to be part of a bigger story, a bigger idea and part of the bigger business.”

People share in private, not public
Video-sharing habits have certainly changed. Wood believes marketers are finding it hard to gain share traction because consumers are ‘narrowcast sharing’, meaning that they’re much more selective in what they share and who they share it with.

“Consumers share branded content very carefully,” Wood says. “It still does happen but it only happens when the content is absolutely spot on, which makes this a big challenge for brands.”

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach
A standard geographical approach to video content rarely works. “It’s very difficult to lift and shift,” Wood says.

“One mistake that often gets made is when a brand creates a bit of content from the centre and disseminates it out globally and expects it to fly in all markets.” In other words, it’s important to localise video content to meet the different cultural standards of audiences.

“Women aged 18-24 in the Philippines will likely engage with very different content from the CEO of a tech company in the US who’s aged 60-64,” Wood says. “There’s definitely no one-size-fits-all.”

Context is key
Will your video play vertical or horizontal? Will there be subtitles so viewers can watch silently? Every aspect of the video viewing must be discussed during the strategy process to avoid a jarring experience.

“When you create a bit of content you’ve got to remember it’s not going to be consumed in a vacuum,” Wood says.

“It’s going to be consumed on a device and increasingly that device is going to be mobile. It will be held with a certain orientation and increasingly that is vertical. It will be seen in a specific format – whether that’s a skippable format, whether that’s a sound off, in-feed format, whether that’s a long-form format. You have to think about the whole piece, not just the content in isolation.”

It’s a bit of trial and error
Trial different video formats to find success. According to Wood, video preferences will vary across industries but there are some interesting opportunities for brands wanting to create immersive experiences.

“Say you’re in real estate and you want to be showing consumers around houses. VR is going to be super practical, tactical and lead to ROI. It’s also a great storytelling experience.” 

Looking ahead
And as for the future of it all, Wood is a firm believer that pre-roll video content is on the way out. “We really want to see the death of interruptive advertising,” she adds. “There is no place for forced pre-roll in our ecosystem.”

Before opting for a pre-roll video consider the value exchange. From Wood’s perspective brands risk more than they gain when forcing consumers to watch advertisements. With ad-blockers on the rise, perhaps it’s time for brands to reset their approach to video advertising.

What has been your biggest video learning curve of 2016? We’d love to hear about it – so why not share it comments section below.

Find the original post here.

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