Steffan Aquarone

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

Finally, proper Brand Entertainment has arrived in online video

In 2008 Guy Browning and I started a business called Immense Productions. Our vision was to combine the best creative people from big brands with comedy writers from film & TV. With some careful help on the ideas-building front they would produce new and original comedy for the brand to share with its customers.

We had this idea just when someone turned the whole world and its piggy bank upside-down, which was unfortunate. But very fortunately Immense Productions went on to make a charming funny feature film called Tortoise in Love, which is out this summer.

Since then it’s been interesting to see brands explore their use of online video and enjoy the benefits of producing stuff people actually want to watch. This started way back with popular TV ads but in the past few years it’s extended into useful how-to videos, ‘viral’ successes (some of them accidental) and huge amounts of content being produced specifically for online audiences.

A lot of this work still feels very sales-y, or like it was written by the PR department. The final step towards true Brand Entertainment will come when brands put down the product and start to focus on what people actually find useful, interesting or entertaining. Fosters started to do this in their sponsorship of “Original Comedy on Four”. Now they’re one of a few brands taking it all the way online with, hosting new and/or previously unseen episodes of comedies like Alan Partridge and the Fast Show.

Making millions of people happy is a great way to boost brand loyalty. And brands are starting to realise they can do this themselves, just as successfully as TV broadcasters.

Filed under: online video strategies, , , ,

How to have a strategy (key to online video success, part 1)

In June YouTube announced that it had hit the 3 billion views per day milestone and was receiving 48 hours of new video per minute. Garner listed online video as one of the top ten strategic technologies for 2011. Yet according to Mark Robertson, founder of, most brands are not using video enough throughout the customer lifecycle.

Your ability to achieving serious objectives through online video relies upon your organisation looking beyond product films, ‘corporate’ videos, or putting TV ads online, and taking a more strategic approach to online video.

The biggest difference between online video today and corporate video of the 1990s is that of audiences. Online audiences today are used to consuming far more information per unit of time than twenty years ago. Just think about the pace of TV comedy, or soap operas, and how it’s simply got faster over the years.

More significant is the difference in environment for today’s audiences. No longer are viewers confined to limited channels in their living rooms, or pre-feature cinema advertising. Today’s online video content is competing with every other available entertainment option on the web: audiences can, and will, click elsewhere if what they’re watching isn’t delivering the goods.

Finally, device convergence now means video can be watched on TV, on laptops, tablet PCs, mobiles, video games consoles and more. Not only does this pose a technical obstacle in that brands must ensure their content works across all devices; it means that audiences could be distracted by any number of interruptions from any device. The living room viewer of today might have three devices operating at once, with all their content competing for attention.

Whilst this might sound like hell to anyone who’s ever wondered when technological innovation is going to be brought to a halt by the limits of human tolerance, it’s an unavoidable fact of modern digital communications. For content producers the take-away message is simple: we must now work harder than ever to ensure our content is relevant to our audiences. We must now undertake a multitude of technical, distribution-related as well as creative considerations in any online video project and this calls for robust strategy.

Setting a strategy is simple: it’s simply about defining what you want to achieve with your online video, and planning every aspect of your campaign around that main objective. Here are some top tips for creating a robust video strategy:

  • Have a clear objective
  • Identify your audience
  • Understand what makes them tick
  • Work out how you’re going to reach them
  • Understand the technologies you need to make it work
  • Define how you’re going to measure success
  • Calculate the value of the opportunity (or the cost of the problem) to guide your budget
  • Build in a mechanism for continuous reporting, thinking and improving your strategy

The most difficult of these is having a clear objective for your strategy. Online video can achieve many different things such as: increasing sales uplift, improving site dwell-times, increasing site return-rate, or improving click-through on a particular part of the funnel. But setting one of these as your main strategic objective will help focus your campaign and your content.

Filed under: online video strategies, , , , ,

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