Steffan Aquarone

Steff is a film producer and technology entrepreneur who speaks internationally on innovation, entrepreneurship and digital marketing

Stop wasting money on “corporate video”


Recently I had the pleasure of authoring a report for the lovely people at Econsultancy. “Online Video Best Practice” has, I’m told, been a popular and well-received report on the state of online video.

Writing it was certainly interesting. As someone who spends a good deal of time working strategically on the corporate and commercial use of video on the web it was fascinating to get in-depth input from peers and their clients. The digital marketing sector seems particularly willing to share success stories openly with colleagues, which can only be a good thing for all of our clients and customers.

I was pleased to hear that many of my frustrations about brands’ inabilities to create content that audiences might actually want to watch were shared by the majority of contributors. It’s a shame that things are rarely taken seriously in large companies until something big has gone wrong due to lack of investment, or something big goes well for a competitor. Congratulations must go to brands like M&S who have had the foresight to invest heavily in innovative ideas – I was so pleased to hear how well this investment is paying off when I interviewed the CEO of the company that runs M&S TV, Chris Gorell Barnes.

It amazes me that anyone would still part with scarce budget to produce “corporate video” for the web. Such films are almost always an audiovisual eulogy to the misguided egos of the business owners, that no-one wants to watch. It’s more amazing that most businesses don’t use simple, free tools to measure whether anyone is actually viewing their content. YouTube tells content publishers nothing about how far through their content people are watching, and yet it is still the most popular platform for organisations to host their video content.

Many businesses are hiding behind the excuse that they can’t push the boat out further than headshot interviews and images of office blocks because their brand is “conservative” or their sector “more reserved”. But this view sees the way they experience the world as more important than the way their customers see it and it’s brand suicide. It’s also stupid: making content that people might actually want to watch isn’t about putting exploding chickens on skateboards, it’s simply thinking about what would make your content irresistibly entertaining or unmissably useful. And yes, it usually takes budget to do this. But any brand that wants to gain something from online video would be better off spending £50,000 on a well thought-out strategy that might achieve real, measurable benefits (50% for production, 50% for distribution by the way) than spending even £5,000 on a “5-10 minute corporate video to introduce new customers to our offering and explain our products and services”.

There were many other surprises in the report which you can get a free sample of below. The striking conclusion I’ve reached is that very few brands in even fewer sectors are coming close to realising the benefits of online video. In the next twelve months I expect to see many new flagships launched – and right now, given the scarcity of good branded content, success will earn your brand premium first-mover benefits.

Click here to check out the report.

Filed under: digital marketing

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