“Video is exploding.”
That statement by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg during her opening remarks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference sums up the sentiment among publishers and marketers as this year’s Advertising Week begins.
Sandberg made her remarks to Katie Couric as the duo shared the stage at the IAB conference. Couric explained that her Yahoo News interviews with baseball legend Joe Torre and Secretary of State John Kerry are available in both snippets and in longer form to take advantage of the multiple ways that consumers now consume content.
“We try to give people options,” Couric explained. “I’m hoping digital content doesn’t make people want things in 30 seconds or less. As we get more involved and more acclimated to this way of consuming information, there will be a desire for longer pieces.”
That demand is being driven in large part by the ready access to mobile devices and high-speed Internet consumers now have.
But users are not just watching digital video. They are increasingly producing their own content, and that’s a trend that brands should watch closely, Google’s Tara Walpert Levy said in a later session at the conference.
“2015 will be the year of the brand,” Levy predicts. “YouTube stars are now more influential among U.S. teens than the most famous of film and TV celebrities.”
Levy offers three tips for brands hoping to replicate the success of digital heavy hitters such as Red Bull and Go Pro:
1. It’s no longer storytelling, it’s “story asking”: From the beginning stages of a marketing campaign, think about how fans can get involve. Levy cited Taco Bell as a brand that has taken this lesson to heart, noting that many of the fast-food chain’s hot sauces have been crowdsourced from social media.
“Ask, ‘What am I asking fans to do?’ as well as, ‘How am I willing to participate and what am I willing to do with that feedback?’ ” she advised brands marketers.
2. Be ready to join the conversation: Marketing is no longer about campaigns that take months to put together and have long shelf lives. Some of the best brand moments online happen in a matter of minutes, and they may fade just as quickly.
But that doesn’t mean brands don’t have legwork to do. Marketers can prepare themselves for such moments by creating assets in advance and removing bureaucratic barriers to rapid response.
Levy praised EA Sports and its efforts to promote the Madden football game this fall with animated GIFs that users could share on social media. Before football season began, the team prepped 100,000 permutations so that users could personalize GIFs with virtually every team, player and play featured in the game.
“Try to get rapid approval and decision-making processes in place that will enable you to be there for all the moments that matter,” she said.
3. Embrace user-generated content: Marketers have more options than ever for sourcing creative content, including budding YouTube stars and social media content creators that have huge followings. Ignoring those sources of content for brand campaigns is a big mistake, Levy warned.
“Take advantage of all the news ways to adapt talent that are out there,” she said.
She highlighted a Johnson & Johnson campaign that features the candid story of an aspiring ballerina and invites viewers to share their own stories online. The #seetherealme campaign produced 40 million engagement on YouTube and drove sales, Levy said.
Scott Donaton, chief creative officer of UM Studios, echoed Levy’s advice and urged marketers to embrace digital video as a valuable medium for reaching consumers.
“You ask a marketer should be open to great ideas no matter where they come from,” he said.
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