Matt Shearer, Director of Product Innovation at Data Language, explore how content and digital marketers can best connect with their audience during the COVID-19 crisis.
Just as COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on peoples’ lives and society in general, it’s unquestionable that it has upended marketing and advertising priorities. Out-of-home advertising has been hit the worst, with the world’s biggest companies in the sector losing up to 75 per cent of their share price and desperately slashing costs. Despite increased viewing figures, television has also taken a hit, with ITV reporting a 42 per cent fall in advertising in April. This doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities out there, though. Research from Ofcom shows that UK adult internet users spent 17 minutes longer online each day in March than in January. Considering that most of the population is spending more time at home than ever before, this is no surprise.
These rapid behavioural changes, combined with concerns around how marketing during a pandemic will be received by consumers, have led many marketing and advertising departments to question whether they should be communicating externally about their products and services at all. While perhaps admirable, these concerns are unfounded. Consumers are happy to see continued brand activity online, with only eight per cent of Facebook users thinking companies should hold back and 51 per cent of users agreeing that seeing/hearing ads gives them a sense of normality. Furthermore, research from respected institutions like Harvard Business School consistently shows that the companies that pull back from marketing in a crisis perform worse than those that don’t in both the short- and long-term.
As such, the decision shouldn’t be whether or not to continue with content marketing and advertising, but how you can best connect with your audience in the current circumstances. Considering that much of consumers’ increased time online is being spent watching video content, to the extent that YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have all temporarily reduced their video streaming quality to cope with the rising demand, and TikTok became the most downloaded app in Apple’s iOS App Store for Q1 2019, there’s a clear answer. Video was already the fastest growing opportunity for marketers – now this growth is rapidly accelerating.
Video marketing is by no means new, and it’s already been widely adopted. Eighty-eight per cent of marketers even say that they are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing – but that shouldn’t encourage complacency. Just because you’re using video doesn’t mean you should stop pushing the envelope and considering how it can be more effective for your business, or how you could increase your ROI further.
There are some simple steps towards maximising impact that marketers can take – for example, are you repurposing existing content to new ends to increase its lifespan? Content can become dated, but that doesn’t mean that the whole video no longer has value. There may be sections that can be integrated into fresh content, or repurposed as shorter videos or even gifs, depending on your target demographic. It’s also important to ensure that your video content is fully integrated with your customer journey and sales funnel, as this enables you to both align your content with prospect decision-making and better track its effectiveness.
As ever, when it comes to marketing, there’s a question to be asked on whether you are leveraging the latest technology to its full extent. Simply uploading videos to YouTube, embedding them on your website, and sharing on social media might generate good results, but they certainly won’t be the best results you can achieve.
Emerging video moment technology enables marketers to break videos down into a series of snapshots or “moments”. This optimises the viewing experience by allowing viewers to flick through to the section of the video they particularly want to see. Jamie Oliver’s marketing team used video moment technology in his series of Christmas how-to videos – in this example, on roasting your Christmas turkey, you can see how the long-form video is broken down into eight steps, or moments, enabling viewers to quickly navigate to the sections relevant for them. These moments are also individually shareable on social media and searchable, enabling viewers to navigate directly to them – for example, if they were comfortable with the turkey roasting process but wanted guidance on making thyme flavoured oil.
This enhances the customer journey and improves how users navigate between videos on different topics, products or techniques, as well as enabling more targeted and less intrusive advertising. In the Jamie Oliver example above, you can see that two of the moments are linked to specific products, with a Buy Now button from Amazon visible.
Metadata is another key, but often overlooked, part of best-of-breed video content, as it improves SEO, and allows for more advanced and more personalised content recommendations for viewers. The combination of video moment technology and metadata is particularly powerful, with one recent implementation by Jamie Oliver’s marketing team increasing CTR by 4.9 per cent over standard video advertising, and generating a staggering 9.6 per cent conversion rate with the eCommerce vendor.
Finally, consider how consumer’s changing behaviour might be impacted by the pandemic. If people are watching more online video, and therefore being interrupted by more adverts, will this become a source of irritation as opposed to the accepted trade-off for free content that it was before? If so, investigate different ways of making them less intrusive – whether that’s through banners aligned with individual moments or simply ensuring any adverts are closely aligned with the content of the video, so they’re relevant to the viewer.
Staying strong in the face of a crisis requires agility, focus, and adoption of new technologies to stay ahead of the game. Marketers currently have an opportunity to build strong relationships with an audience that’s captive in a never-before-seen sense. Furthemore, in these strange times, marketers have a greater duty than ever to their audiences stuck at home to make their content relevant and engaging.