Marketing is involved with making contact with prospects and customers so that you maximize the chance that they will select products and/or services from your company. If they are willing to watch a video that shows what your product or service can do, then this is almost as good as having a face-to-face meeting with them.
That is why it was so intriguing in October 2006 when Google acquired YouTube for the princely sum of $1.65 Billion in Stock.
Google Inc. announced that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand and passionate community.
The acquisition combines one of the largest and fastest growing online video entertainment communities with Google’s expertise in organizing information and creating new models for advertising on the Internet.
Google had identified the power of the video medium and intended to leverage this purchase. So not surprisingly in May 2007 they announce a different way of presenting information to searches. This was what they dubbed Universal Search. This would provide the most relevant information to searches and that could include videos.
Google Inc.announced its critical first steps toward a universal search model that will offer users a more integrated and comprehensive way to search for and view information online. The ultimate goal of universal search is to break down the silos of information that exist on the web and provide the very best answer every time a user enters a query.
Google’s vision for universal search is to ultimately search across all its content sources, compare and rank all the information in real time, and deliver a single, integrated set of search results that offers users precisely what they are looking for. Beginning today, the company will incorporate information from a variety of previously separate sources – including videos, images, news, maps, books, and websites – into a single set of results.
In practice where videos were an appropriate answer to the query, they would often appear as the fifth and sixth entries in a typical case. By having a video, you could almost be guaranteed to have a result that would show in this position and be above the fold, in other words displayed in the first screen the searcher sees.
Unless one paid to have a sponsored result, it was almost impossible to have such a guarantee about where your entry would appear. Naturally everyone flocked to the idea of making videos to describe their products and services.
Why Videos Are Easy To Make And Publicize
The other attraction to showing videos was that they were relatively easy to make. Using a readily available and relatively inexpensive video camera, a video could be produced in very little time and uploaded. Initially Google Video was accepting such uploads but are now encouraging everyone to upload their videos to YouTube instead. However they still offer advice to Video Publishers on how best to get their videos indexed with Google as mentioned on the Google Video blog on January 20.
We are refocusing our attention on building a more comprehensive video search engine (in case you’re wondering, Google Video search algorithms power YouTube as well as “universal search” from Google.com). We want to make it possible for people searching Google.com or Google Video to find any video, at any time, from any site.
Indexing video presents some unique challenges. The more information you make available, the easier it is for us to crawl your videos. Here are a few simple things you can include in your Sitemaps to make your videos easier to find:
- Landing page URL: This is the page where the video is hosted. It is better to have a unique landing page for each video on your site.
- Video thumbnail URL: Thumbnails provide a strong visual cue to the user. Your video thumbnail should be representative of a snapshot from the video, and should not be misleading in any way.
- Title & Description: If these are accurate and descriptive, they not only help Google understand your video, but also help users choose the best video search result. Providing information about category, keyword tags and duration is always helpful.
An important factor in getting visibility in Google is to submit a transcript of the video content. This requires some effort but this effort is usually well repaid in terms of visibility in video searches.
Users will be able to find your video more easily if you add a transcript to each video file you have uploaded via your Video Status page. We prefer it if the format of the transcript is time-coded and saved as a .txt file. A time-coded transcript breaks the script of the video into segments. Each segment includes the time the words in the script are being said in the video followed by the actual words of the script.
What used to be a relatively simple process of shooting and submitting to YouTube is suddenly becoming somewhat more complicated. Even then a word of caution is appropriate. People are now used to seeing good-quality videos and one with inferior quality may well do more harm than good.
Developing A Good Video
Developing a high quality video is not difficult but you should plan carefully exactly what you will do. Usually the video quality with most video cameras will be adequate, provided appropriate lighting is arranged. The audio may be more of a problem but Barry Schwartz for example finds the Samson C01U USB Microphone works very well for him.
There are a number of factors to consider and a very professional approach is to be encouraged. For example it is probably appropriate to have background music at the start and at the end of the video. High quality caption pages should also be used.
Here are some more resources if you need further information on producing good-quality videos.
- Create Home Movies Effortlessly with Windows Movie Maker 2 – Microsoft
- Creating Videos with Movie Maker 2, the video editing program that comes with the Microsoft XP operating system – Pembina Trails
- Tips for Creating Videos – A comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about video. Terminology, creating videos, how to edit them and shine your diamond in the rough – Metacafe
What Some Experts Are Saying About Videos
So you have produced your great video. What’s next?
Well unfortunately there are further challenges to be faced. Perhaps Google’s Universal Search will not bring the audience you’re hoping for. Just see what Steve Rubel highlighted in his blog explaining Why Text Remains King of the Web.
My friend Robert Scoble has a problem. He produces terrific videos on technology companies for Fast Company. They’re a little long sometimes, but they’re almost always interesting.
So what’s Scoble’s problem? Well a lot. The videos don’t generate a lot of in-bound links from bloggers, conversations on Twitter or mentions on aggregators like Techmeme. “None of my 1,000+ videos has ever made it to Techmeme,” Scoble said.
That sentiment is also reflected in an article by Nicole Ferraro entitled: Unprofitable Video: At Least It’s Cheap to Make. She noted that at the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) conference in New York City three video experts spent more time diverting people’s attention to how very low-cost all of this video stuff is – versus how it will generate profits.
Why Are Good Videos Challenging?
The reason why videos are a tough sell is that they demand an act of faith from their viewers. Time is the most valuable asset you have and yet you are required to spend some time on seeing something, because someone else feels it is worth showing to you. The whole essence of the Internet is fast interaction. Normally within seconds if you don’t like what you’re seeing, then you can click away. Not so with a video. Unless you have great respect for the person who produced that video, you may be unwilling to take the chance and spend time looking at it.
Of course another way you may be willing to give up some of your valuable time is if someone you respect has encouraged you to look at it. Indeed for most videos, this is the only way they will be viewed. When it comes from a friend or a friend of a friend, then you are already partially hooked.
Given the above, the only worthwhile advice is perhaps to concentrate on videos that have the chance of going viral. They should be so good that people want to encourage their friends to look at them. If you feel you have content that can justify that support, then this may be a very powerful way of communicating with your audiences. If not, it may just languish and remain unseen.
Integrating Web Videos Into The Marketing Plan
Summarizing what has been said above, it is probably wise to think of integrating Web videos into your marketing plan only when you have something that is buzz worthy. If you feel that the response could go ballistic, then that is exactly the type of video that can perform well for you. Otherwise you would be better off using your energy and cash in other ways of connecting with your prospects and customers.
Of course we should not forget that with a little effort on your video it will be visible in Google’s Universal Search. That should not be discounted. However the effort to prepare a video is many times more than an equivalent text blog post. The latter, provided it is well constructed, will do at least as well as the video. Remember that a video will normally appear only at position 5 or 6 unless the keyword query suggested a video would be the right response. On the other hand, your text blog post can get to the first or second positions and be much more visible.
If you are doing a series of videos, then hopefully at least one can be buzz worthy and then you can put the right efforts into making it highly visible. What you need are friends telling friends. This is sometimes glorified with the title ‘social media marketing’. We are all now familiar with how well President Obama’s team orchestrated this process through the presidential selection process.
A great deal of care must be used if a large corporation is to use social media marketing. The essence of social media is people talking to people and if they feel they are being manipulated there may well be a strong adverse reaction.
It may be possible to market the video through social media solely in order to get numerous prospects contacting the company. However it is probably more effective if one is creative in linking the video with other activities that may give the company visibility. Perhaps it is sufficient to mention Super Bowl 43 ad: Denny’s Free Grand Slam Breakfast to everyone in America on Tuesday Feb 3. Denny’s may have had problems in keeping up with the crowds but the effectiveness of this publicity cannot be questioned.
The Bottom Line
In summary, despite that initial enthusiasm for videos generated by Google’s move to Universal Search, the use of videos should be approached with caution. They need to be professional and this involves skill and effort.
Even with good videos, the job is not over. Unlike a text blog post there is no easy way to get the traffic via only the search engines. An effective social media marketing program must be in place. This requires creativity since people will not wish to be overtly manipulated.