Tag Archives: content marketing

How long should a branded video be?

Mourgue’s Djinn chair is just one of the many creations you will find
in this video for Renault TV.

The duration of a video should not be one of the deciding factors when creating branded content. It is inspiration, relevancy, usefulness and entertainment that are the main characteristics of the most successful videos out there.

I recently came across this video created by Publicis Entertainment for Renault and their Renault TV platform. Over the course of 26 minutes, we travel through five decades of design tendencies and how they influenced fashion, music, social habits and the production industry (including some of this French car manufacturer’s most iconic creations). As an example of branded content, how effective is this long-form video in trying to reach its target audience?

Well let’s start by stating the obvious: brands are increasingly relying on video content to engage consumer interest. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, this is also true in a B2B environment, where use of video as a marketing tool increased from 52% to 70% from 2011 to 2012.

Video has indeed become the driving force of numerous marketing campaigns, with examples ranging from 1-minute virals such as the Cravendale “Cats with Thumbs” Milk Matters campaign to the more challenging Kony 2012 awareness campaign video. Both these videos amassed millions of viewers on YouTube. Yet they required very different amounts of time and attention from the viewer.

How long or short should a video be to be able to sustain viewers’ attention?

The answer is to this question forms part of the many challenges that content marketers face on a daily basis, where the quest to reach a very informed, time-poor, easily distracted, banner-blind consumer or business owner is not a matter of how large a budget you have, but instead how effective you can make your content with whatever resources are at your disposal.

Could it be that the above 26-minute video asks too much from the time-hungry viewer? Perhaps, especially if they’re accessing the content on their mobile, in which case targeting the consumer while they’re on the go would be a mistake. With ever dwindling attention spans, especially with the younger generation, the competition to grab (and keep) a consumer’s attention is white hot.

Some voices in the industry will therefore say that long-form content has had its day. Indeed, if we are to take into account the relaunch and subsequent rise in popularity of the news curating app Summly (at the time of writing, it’s at the top of the App Store free app chart), we can say that the constantly mobile consumer now only has time to catch up on 400 character items of news. Were we apply this logic to branded content in video format, then creators will have to limit themselves to 2-3 minutes to tell their story and get the message across. This would of course approach the realms of ‘advertising’ videos, which when well executed and integrated in an effective campaign, easily become a viral hit.

In an age of instant gratification, content creators should therefore not be focusing on how long the video is, but instead concentrate on making each second, line or image of their content relevant, inspiring, entertaining and/or useful. There will always be thirst for content that has either or all of these attributes. If the viewer will gain something from giving the brand their time and consequently follows up with one of the many possible actions we ask them to perform, then the video has served its purpose.

But what about very good videos that have poor view counts or haven’t had an impact on the overall objectives of the marketing campaign? I will leave my considerations on this matter to another post, so do come visit my blog in the not too distant future.

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Relevancy is not enough!

Why brands should give consumers what they want, how and when they need it.

The above screen grab is from an appeal that Maura Johnston made yesterday evening on her Twitter account. Whichever site she was clicking on, her frustrating customer journey simply illustrates what some marketers and publishers have failed to grasp: relevancy is key to what people want in media.

Since its origins in publishing, content marketing has become one of the latest buzzwords in marketing. Google has recognised the importance of the relevancy of content in their latest search algorithm updates, as have so many other parts of the PR, marketing and retail industries.

Social media has had a great deal of influence in this growing tendency due to its capacity to allow family and friends to efficiently share the latest products, videos, news and entertainment with their network. The keyword here is efficiency, as time-hungry consumers dislike jumping hurdles when trying to get what they want.

Relevancy in content

There’s no secret to what used to make print publishing so successful, as at the core of all successful publishing products we will find relevancy of content. Publishers (should) know their target market inside out and so the content they produce ought to meet the reader’s expectations.

In the past, all this was relatively simple as it all came together in one channel, the printed magazine or newspaper. However, as we all know too well, the multitude of communication channels has piled much pressure on publishers and marketers to reach their audience by way of different platforms, each with their particular costs, challenges, etiquette and limitations.

Efficiency in the user journey

What marketers and publishers should not forget is that relevant content alone is not enough to satisfy consumers. A simple and straightforward route to access it is key to ensuring the content reaches them and serves its purpose. Otherwise, we are just wasting time and money in creating good content only to have customer journeys that frustrate the target audience, especially when venturing into the digital arena. You might have a very engaging video about your brand or product to excite consumers, but making them download an app to be able to see it is a one-way ticket to a negative customer experience.

This is all the more important in a world that is increasingly mobile. According to Google research, 72% of consumers want mobile-friendly sites (see study here), so if you’re looking to go digital with your content, make sure that it’s tailored to being accessed on mobile devices, especially smartphones and tablets. Although use of apps to showcase content is on the rise, more and more brands and their agencies are realising that a good mobile-friendly website is just as efficient in achieving campaign objectives, hereby sidetracking the many challenges of an app-centred content marketing plan.

This does not mean that every single website should load, by default, in mobile-friendly format when a consumer arrives at it. Some people with large screen smartphones and on tablets are more than happy to access websites in their “full fat” version. What’s important is give the consumer the preference and not dictate it. The consumer knows what (s)he wants. All you should do is be there to provide it how and when they want it.

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A spanner in the works of publishing and content

Setting a new level of high-definition, but at a cost for publishers and content creators.

The new iPad is proving to be another challenge in the constantly evolving world of digital publishing and content marketing.


Following up on yesterday’s post, new iPad owners were critical of the pixelation of the text and the photos contained in some of the editions that have not been optimised for the higher resolution of the market-leading tablet. Vogue were the first to address this by offering an optimised version of their latest issue, bumping up the file size from 280MB to 408MB.

Now for argument’s sake, if we take an increase of 30-50% in file size as the benchmark for all other publishers, it poses a serious problem for the overall effectiveness of the new iPad as a publishing tool, or indeed as a multimedia platform for displaying high-definition content in general.

Casting our gaze over the current panoply of high-definition offerings, we see that consumers can readily access it on their Full HD televisions and computers, as well as apparatus such as Blu-ray players or cable provider DVRs. We’re talking serious hardware, built for the pressures of large file sizes by using hard disc drives and optical cables for the streaming of HD content.

The fact of the matter is that contrary to the ever-improving memory capacity of desktop computers and DVRs, the iPad has had a maximum of 64GB of memory capacity for over 2 years, with many consumers opting for the more cost-effective smaller capacities. Subsequently, users have to constantly decide what apps to delete and install when new content comes along.

Can we consider the new iPad’s ‘resolutionary’ display a consumer gimmick, created more to impress than to be of actual functionality and service to a user? Quite likely! Would a larger memory capacity or USB ports have been a more pragmatic addition to the new iPad? Quite possibly. Will the increased file size needed to display content convince people to take out a subscription or make frequent purchases of hi-res copies of the magazine app? Quite unlikely! The trade-off of sacrificing more memory for the sake of a pin-sharp photo in a magazine just isn’t there.

Like the film, technology and entertainment industry that are growing on the back of signficant improvements in high-definition offering, publishers and content marketers in general will have to wait for a similar jump in iPad hardware specification to be able to take advantage of the screen the iPad has to offer consumers.

So until Apple increases the memory capacity of the iPad in line with the more generous offerings of ultrabooks or even the Macbook Air (which mostly feature flash memories between 128 and 256GB), it will always be a hard-sell for high-definition content to command consumer’s attention (and spend) when it comes to tablet devices.

Then again, there is always the 300dpi resolution of magazines printed on paper… Now there’s an idea for high-definition content!

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Digital Publishing and its many guises

apple iPad

After two days of near continuous bombardment of new tendencies, a cornucopia of packed and insightful seminars and keynote speeches, (the usual) overpriced bites to eat, and “market-leading-solution-we-are-the-answer-to-all-your-problems” sales speak, I am just about to start browsing the piles of magazines and literature that I’ve amassed from the Publishing Expo as well as the TFM&A.

Having spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Earl’s Court 2 (an improvement on the slightly run-down Olympia from past years), I would like to just summarise a bit of the whirlwind of developments that the content marketing and digital publishing industry are having to take in.

Before I go into more detail, there are two glaring points about the Publishing Expo I would like to make:

1. Adobe was indeed the overall event sponsor, but I was surprised to see they were not exhibiting. Is this a sign they are getting comfortable with the lead their publishing suite, including Adobe DPS, has over the competition?

2. The iPad was the reigning tablet to showcase mobile publishing and marketing solutions. Not a single Android tablet to be seen, even in the cases of developers having solutions or working towards versions of apps for this platform.

And now on with the show…

What’s your flavour?

If the explosion of apps wasn’t concern enough for a professional trying to get their brand, creation or deliverable out there to the time-hungry and fickle world of consumers and punters, we now have the benefit (and perhaps headache) of having multiple routes we can go down in the quest for the publishing and marketing ‘silver bullet’.

The exhibitors at the show cater to different budgets and objectives, most of them squarely aimed at the tablet publishing market. Some are effective and simple (or reductive, depending on your view of things);  others have a cornucopia of bells and whistles to choose from: Mag+, Readz, Dennis Publishing, Zinio, Yudu, Pressrun, Pagesuite, eMagCreator, Magazine Cloner, are examples of the different approaches used.

If I were to add to the mix the suppliers that I have come across in past exhibitions, case study presentations or on projects I have worked on, the list goes on: eDition, Onswipe,  Issuu, Flipping Book, and numerous other big and small operators. In the case of Readz and Onswipe, for example, we’re not even talking about an iOS or Android app, per se, as these are nascent examples of web-based or web-optimised content browsing solutions, that are becoming a valid alternative to your ‘traditional’ platform-based application solutions.

Brave New World

All of the above-mentioned suppliers are clambering for their share of the ever-evolving and increasingly inter-woven market of ‘grabbing people’s attention and making them do something after seeing your message’. The result is that most brands, agencies or publishers can no longer lounge in the luxury of being a platform or iPad-only specialist.

For all of us with any kind of history in the communication, media, publishing or marketing industry, we are riding the tidal waves caused by the speed of change in the last few years. We are coming to realise that survival lies with a varied mix of multi-platform, integrated, attractive, informative, engaging, entertaining and easy to navigate information and content. And if we can have that with some magic pixie dust in the form of viral content, social media buzz or mass-market news exposure, then we’re one step closer to marketing zen, publishing nirvana or brand heaven.

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