How can Schools use Digital Advertising

12th April 2018

written by George Hughes

In an article by The Guardian, Ralf Lucas the founder of Good Schools Guide said that he was noticing a clear shift when meeting parents in their opinion towards State schools, saying that “Independent schools really need to show us more, not just tell us, as we’re really taking State schools seriously”. Parents today are spoilt for choice. Not only do independent schools need to prove their value over State schools but they also need to work harder to stand out from their competitor schools. This is why a well executed digital strategy should be a top priority for any marketing team in the independent school sector, and digital advertising can play a massive role in that.

So, what is digital advertising? Digital advertising is when you run adverts online across social media, Google, Youtube, and various other websites. Last year digital advertising spend outstripped television for the first time in history (SEOworks). It’s highly effective and the good news is it’s affordable for everybody, regardless of the size of your school marketing budget.

What are the best ways to use digital advertising for your school?

1. To drive more people to your school website

A video on your school website is an extremely effective way of engaging prospective parents. But how do you get them to visit your website in the first place, especially if they’ve never heard of your school? By running adverts online across Facebook and Instagram you can reach people beyond your immediate sphere of influence. For example, if you are a boarding school based in Surrey but you want to attract more international students from South Korea, you could run a Facebook advert that only targets affluent, well educated, English speaking adults in the Seoul area. Or, if you are a school in Buckinghamshire running a bursary scheme for inner city children, you could run an Instagram advert explaining the advantages of the scheme targeting London postcode children under the age of 16 who attend a specific selection of State schools. Even if you just want to attract more pupils from the next county, social media advertising is a great way to do this.

2. To highlight the best aspects of your school

Parent’s can often get into “analysis paralysis” when comparing different schools. This is because many will have a good website, a compelling video and lots of information that positions them in a favourable light. To stand out from the competition, you need to think outside the box and that’s where digital advertising can help. You can provide parents with many more layers of information about your school to help them in the decision making process and also keep yourself in the front of their mind. By creating a series of films highlighting different aspects of your school, whether that’s art, sport or academia, you can run them as promotional videos online across social media channels, Google and Youtube.

3. Keeping you at the front of prospect minds

One of the best things you can do for your school with digital advertising is to set up “re-marketing”. You might not have heard of re-marketing before but you will no doubt be familiar with it. We’ve all been there; you look at a bit of furniture or some clothing online and then an advert for that same item starts following you around the internet. You might find this slightly annoying, but the truth is it really works! All you need to do is ask your website designer to install Google and Facebook Pixel. Once that’s done you can set up your own re-marketing campaign via Google ads or Facebook ads. The reason this is so good is because it will keep your school in front of prospect parents as they deliberate over which school to visit, or which school to choose for their child.

Digital advertising can offer you some great solutions. Instagram and Facebook are both platforms that allow you to be very strategic in your approach to reach target audiences. By allowing you the selection of certain factors like location, age, gender, demographics, interests, behaviours, connections or language, you have the potential of reaching parents and students worldwide. As well as specific people around the UK. Your main focus when advertising on these platforms is to have a very distinguished idea of who your target audiences are and how you are best going to reach them with compelling content. 

You can be even more specific in your approach by targeting your prospect parents and students on the channels that you know they are most active. For example, if you want to be targeting parents with digital adverts the best options will be Facebook, Google and Youtube. As an older generation and not so immersed in the world of social media, you’ll mainly want to target them during everyday internet activity, for example, at work or online shopping through Google, watching recipe videos on Youtube, or, staying in contact with friends on Facebook.

If you want to be targeting students with your digital adverts the best platforms for you will be Instagram and Snapchat. The younger generation is much more tech savvy – providing them with direct access to your school’s information through a well displayed advert on Instagram will add a lot of credibility (maybe they’ll even share the ad). If you want to be reaching Feeder schools with your adverts then the best place to reach them is through Twitter as it’s more of a platform for brands, businesses and organisations. Perfect for spreading a more sophisticated message about your school to other people in the same field.

Digital advertising can seem like a daunting task but once you get started it soon becomes second nature. Just be specific in your approaches and make sure to have a very clear idea of who you want to be targeting. Use the right platforms in relation to your target audience, be knowledgeable about them so that you can be precise in your targeting and, be specific in the content you produce so that it resonates and connects with the target audience.

The world of independent schools has changed and the academic landscape is now a highly competitive industry. Independent schools can no longer rely solely on the prestige of their institution, league tables or word of mouth to secure a constant flow of admissions. Today your prospective students and parents live in a digital age and you will need to embrace technology if you want to keep your admissions high and stay in the minds of the right people. After ensuring you have a well presented and smooth working website, video is the next marketing tool you should set your sights on. Here are 5 ways that video can be used to increase admissions to your school. 

 

1. Video on your websites homepage

A video on your homepage can be incredibly powerful for independent schools where your website acts as your shop window. In fact, a survey by Unbounce found that video on your landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. This video holds all the information and knowledge that a prospective parent or pupil will need. It eliminates the time your prospect has to spend searching for information and engages them instantly with creative and meaningful content. In a matter of minutes, not only do they know everything they need to know about your school but they also form an emotional connection. They have begun to imagine what it will be like to be a pupil at your school or as a parent what it will be like to send their child there. This connection is hard to achieve through just text and pictures. It’s an instant way to stand out from other schools and demonstrate your unique selling point. When creating this video you should ensure it is concise, polished and easy to digest.

2. Facebook Video Marketing

If you haven’t already been using social media for your school then it’s a good time to start! After watching the brand film on your website, visitors will want to do further research online. This is where social media channels play an important role. The more interaction they can achieve with your school, the better they will feel about you and the easier it will be for them to build a relationship. Facebook has 1.18 billion daily active users (Facebook) and the average user spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook. Incorporating a Facebook page for your school will amplify the amount of people you can connect with and it is another platform where your brand film can be presented. Not only that but via your Facebook page you can begin to include “vignettes” of school life via both professional videos and “self-shot” videos. This could be films featuring different parts of the school like sporting life, 6th form, arts and drama, or calendar events like school trips and sports day. It’s a great way to add depth and character to your school. Facebook has options now to prioritise video viewing and your page cover photo can be replaced with a video. Consumers engage with branded videos the most on Facebook (49%), followed by YouTube (32%), then Instagram (24%) (Tubular Insights).

3.  Youtube channel

YouTube is the second most visited site after Google (Alexa). Regular video posts onto a Youtube channel can achieve huge traffic and engagement from your prospects. The average mobile-viewing session on YouTube lasts more than 40 minutes (Kissmetrics). Where Youtube excels over Facebook is that you can create your own “channel” for the school with lots and lots of videos. It can be an exciting way for pupils and teachers at the school to create their own videos to contribute to the channel.  You can be a lot more creative with the types of videos you make and really show off the school’s character. Youtube can act like an extension of your website video where parents and students will be willing to spend more time watching a video about specific aspects of your school like sport, maths, or teachers and facilities.

4. Social media advertising

Video advertisements can be hugely effective online as you can target very specific demographics whether that’s pupils, parents or teachers. Different social media platforms will work more effectively depending on the target audience. For example, Twitter and Facebook adverts will work best on parents whereas Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube ads will work best on prospective pupils. These adverts can be either brand new content or can be created using your own existing videos. The optimal length for these is between 5 and 15 seconds. Social media advertising as a whole can be an extremely effective way of getting your school in front of a new audience, but you can also use it to keep your school constantly in the mind of your current audience. Using a simple feature of Facebook called “pixel” you can “re-market” to people who have already visited your website. This means that when they visit your website they will be tracked by Facebook or Instagram and shown an unobtrusive advert to remind them that they were interested in your school. This form of advertising is highly effective. 

5. Video mail

The truth is not everyone is on social media, so how do you reach parents that are not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube? One fantastic solution is through email marketing. It is a tried and tested approach that works time and time again. Whether you send out a newsletter or a personal email you can include video within that email. That can be your school video, a message from the head or a video about some other aspect of school life. Another way to get parent’s attention is to send out a hard copy of your video via Royal Mail. Rather than being old fashioned (i.e. a VHS sent in a big package) this is actually a very sophisticated form of marketing called a “video book” — it’s a school prospectus that when opened, contains a small screen that plays your video automatically. If you have an open day coming up and you want to target parents with something special then this could be the perfect solution.

There are so many great ways for independent schools to increase their admissions using video and it represents one of the best ways to get high user engagement and a solid return on investment. There has never been a better time for schools to spread awareness, share their story and connect with new audiences. Video is one of the fastest ways for you to get your school out there in front of the right people and make your story heard by those that matter.

In recent years there has been an undoubtable shift in the way brands and advertisers are choosing to communicate with their audiences and customers. Not only is there a steady decline in traditional forms of advertising and a transition towards online video content but, the way brands are using video to advertise is also changing.

Whilst video adverts that play on the immediate desires of a general target audience still have a big role to play in general advertising, advertisers and brands are starting to see the opportunities to connect with their audiences with more meaningful content; content that is relevant to their lifestyles and emotions. What we are seeing now is video being created by brands that is driven more by narrative and storytelling as opposed to the “hard sell” video adverts that has been the norm for so many years.

Take this 2018 advert by Disneyland Paris – The Little Duck as our first example.


The video was posted on Youtube on December 25th and now has 2.9 million views and is the most viewed video on Disney’s channel. It is a video led entirely through narrative that plays with the audience’s emotions. The story is relatable to both an older generation who remember Donald Duck and a younger generation that engages with high quality animation and cute animals. What works well with this video is that it sells the desire to visit Disneyland Paris through the story of the little duck, without needing to mention ticket prices, accommodation or travel. The narrative of the video helps to build an instant and positive connection to Disneyland. 

A lot of brands now produce video content solely for online use because it not only costs less than TV advertising but can also reach an equal number of people. More money can then be put into the production of the video, making them appear more like short films or TV series instead of adverts. They are longer in length, have characters or a protagonist and there is a strong storyline that has a message relatable to the target audience.  

Here is another example by Mercedes Benz – Bertha Benz: The Journey That Changed Everything.

It is a video about the journey of Mrs Benz and her first fuelled car adventure. There is a strong narrative and a main protagonist, the production quality is high with a lot of detail put into the set design and costumes, and there is a relevant and modern message about female empowerment with the tagline at the end of the video “She Believed in Herself”. It is 4 minutes long and therefore would be too long to run as a TV advert but works incredibly well as an online branded video because it’s interesting, eye catching, different from what Mercedes have done in the past and has a meaningful message. 

Creating an online video for your brand that uses storytelling can help you to reach wider audiences that you might not already engage with. The reason the Mercedes Benz video works so well is because the message it is selling is worth sharing, so audiences are more likely to share the video amongst friends and family. The story is powerful and it builds strong emotions which help aids the positive impression of the Mercedes brand.

Here is another example by Delta Airlines.

A very eye catching and heartwarming video that works well at building an emotional connection to Delta Airlines. They’ve told the story of travelling through the eyes of a child which makes it seems a lot more exciting and desirable. What works well with this advert is the brief mentioning of the brand at the end of the video. If the audience is engaged and likes the video, they will need to wait till the end to find out who the brand is behind it. Because the story has been so engaging for the audience, when they see the branding they will respond positively to it.

These are just a few examples of story-led videos from brands that have come out recently online. Videos that rely on storytelling are highly effective at engaging your audience on a much deeper and more meaningful level and they don’t always need a big budget. It is more important to have the right strategy, ideas and script. And most importantly you need to know what story you want to tell.

In a fast moving and crowded industry, food and drink brands need to find efficient, engaging and consistent ways to connect with their customers online and social media can be one of the best tools to do that. We see a lot of food and drink brands focusing a lot of their time, energy and resources on social media marketing in order to build a loyal community of followers who can spread a message about their products. But, if every other food and drink brand is doing the same thing, how do you stand out from the crowd?

 

One of the tricks to nailing a successful social strategy is to have a consistent stream of posts that encourage regular engagement. Text and picture posts can get great results but did you know that posts with video have 48% more views (HubSpot) and generate 1200% more shares than text and image content combined? (G2 Crowd).

 

As a food or drink brand, Twitter, Linkedin and Snapchat are great but Facebook and Instagram should be your bread and butter. Instagram in particular is highly visual so it’s great for showing off your products in the best light and acting as your virtual “store front”. Try to tell the story of your brand and your products with a variety of videos. For example, you can create simple, glossy, 10 second clips of the ingredients that go into your products or a quick time-lapse of a pop-up display being put together in a retail store. Do 1 minute interviews with members of the team or film with your farmers and producers.

 

Videos on social media add huge credibility to your brand’s identity especially when they are informative and educational. Viewers retain 95% of a message after watching it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text (Wirebuzz). Remember, 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound (Instagramso consider adding motion graphics or subtitles to make them stand out.

 

Instagram and Facebook are perhaps one of the most effective ways to create a deeper connection with your customers and engage them on a more personal level. Get somebody in your company to create a Live-stream broadcast taking your audience behind the scenes of your brand and give them insight into your day-to-day activities. These can be behind the scenes of a shoot, event or product sampling, shots in your office, a team outing or videos in your factory. This type of content will resonate with your audience because it’s personal, honest and will make them feel more involved with your journey. Also, because of the personal style of these videos, 47% of consumers enjoy watching adverts from brands on Instagram and Facebook Story (Animoto).

 

Think of social media videos as part of a wider ecosystem of content you are creating. Try to drive your audience from one channel to create better engagement with your brand. For example, if you have some great long-form content on Youtube (above 2 minutes) but don’t have many subscribers, then create short clips from that content and post it on your Facebook or Instagram page with a link to send viewers across to watch the full video on Youtube. If you are creating blogs or other pieces of written content, then you can create short videos summarising the main points from the blog. Post that video on social media and then encourage the viewer to read the full blog on your website by following the link. Not only does this technique help to give your audience lots of content to “gorge on” but it’s also fantastic for SEO.

 

Social media is a great way for food and drink brands to build their own tribe. It works extremely well at engaging audiences with relevant, interesting and exciting content about your brand, and by using video amongst your social media marketing you can find simpler, easier and more engaging ways to stand out online.

With Christmas now a distant memory and January finally over, food and drink brands need to be focusing on what their next marketing campaigns will be, and there are many events and public holidays coming up this Spring that food and drink brands can take advantage of. The beginning of 2019 saw a tremendous growth in the participation of Veganuary and Dry January which both increased by almost a third from last year. So it’s no surprise that it was a hugely popular time for marketing teams of food and drink brands across the UK. So with Spring upon us, what special days are coming up that scream for food and drink video content?

 

There are a lot of great dates coming up, like St Patrick’s day,  Easter, and the period building up to easter like Pancake day and Mother’s day. But, it doesn’t just have to be national holidays that inform your video marketing choices, it can also be the changing seasons and the weather.

 

Walkers did a mini video on Youtube called “Walkers does Spring” with the slogan “Our crisps are hard to bleat this spring.” This type of video is easy to make and easy to market across all online platforms.

 

Arla created this GIF on Facebook titled “It may not feel like it, but today is the first official day of spring! Who’s looking forward to fresh spring flowers and warmer days?”

It may not feel like it, but today is the first official day of spring! Who’s looking forward to fresh spring flowers and warmer days? #Arla

Geplaatst door Arla op Dinsdag 20 maart 2018

 

Creating video content focused on a specific day of the calendar year can be a great way to gain positive exposure for your brand. Especially if you run them as video advertisements on social media and target audiences that are engaging with similar content.

 

Hellmans did a short and simple recipe video for pancake day last year which they marketed via Facebook. The mayonnaise is barely used or referenced but it is branded and you can tell that it’s a Hellmans video.

 

Towering Japanese Fluffy Pancakes; served with crème fraîche, crispy bacon and lashings of maple syrup.

Geplaatst door Hellmann's op Donderdag 8 februari 2018

 

Waitrose created a recipe video on Facebook that shows pancakes being made three ways. It’s a really simple video that has no reference to Waitrose products or services but it’s engaging, relevant and entertaining, so their audience can take something positive away from it, which overall adds value to Waitrose.

 

Enjoy these delicious topping ideas for Pancake Day! Which one is your favourite; mango mojito, maple butter and crispy pancetta or chocolate, banana and hazelnut?Read the recipe: http://bit.ly/2EyGZB1

Geplaatst door Waitrose & Partners op Maandag 12 februari 2018

 

Marks and Spencer held a flower arrangement event last year for Mothers Day which they filmed and uploaded onto their Youtube channel.

 

 

Easter is perhaps the best Spring holiday for food or drink brands to take advantage of, because it spreads a positive message, is widely celebrated and, is typically a happy, warm and colourful time of the year. Similar to the Waitrose recipe video you can create Easter related recipe videos like this one by Lurpak.

 

Roasted until golden and crispy, Whole Roasted Sea Bream is not your ordinary lunch. Recipe: http://bit.ly/2GjX24j #SeizeTheLongWeekend

Geplaatst door Lurpak op Vrijdag 16 maart 2018

 

Or like Marks and Spencer you could hold an Easter related event with either your company or customers like an exclusive easter snack hunt. Film the event and share it with your customers and audiences online to spread a positive and fun message about your brand.

 

Your videos don’t have to have such a strong reference to holidays or events, it can be as simple as adding the colour yellow or having some daffodils and tulips in the video. Typically, the audience will build their own connection to the event as long as you give them a nudge in the right direction.

 

Asda created this video advert last year for Easter as part of their “Meal Under £2.50 a Head” (which is a series of videos they run on Youtube). During the video there is no actual reference or connection to Easter except for the dancing daffodil in the middle of the table. Yet the video is effective at capturing people’s attention when thinking about Easter.

 

There are a lot of great videos food and drink brands can be making this Spring season. Using an event like Pancake Day, Easter or Mother’s Day to aid your monthly marketing campaigns is simple, effective and hugely rewarding. It’s one of the fastest ways to drive organic engagement to your brand, get great return on investments and reach wider audiences during an exciting and busy period. Have a think about the types of videos you could make and what your audience would like to see from your brand this Spring.

 

How Food and Drink Brands Can Use Online Video in 2019

The food and drink industry is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the UK contributing £28.8bn to the economy and generating £22bn in export sales (FDF). In recent years we have seen new brands popping up left, right and centre, food networks dominating the online space and “How To Cook That” becoming one of the most searched phrases on Youtube. (OneSpot)

In 2019 food and drink brands should look enthusiastically to content marketing, and choose carefully the best avenues to take in order to achieve sales and growth. Amongst the many marketing opportunities available to food and drink brands, online video is consistently showing the best results and helping propel new brands into the spotlight. We’ve seen food channels like Twisted, Tasty and Tastemade take the industry by storm with their recipe videos. Also, with the popularity of online platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, it’s never been easier for brands to share content and spread their messages.

So, what are the best ways a food and drink brand can use video online?

Online Advertising

The great thing about online advertising is that it’s affordable, it takes advantage of the internet’s wide and global reach and can be accurately targeted when engaging customers and audience. According to Forbes, because of the visual nature, 80% of users can recall a video ad they’ve seen in the past 30 days. (Forbes)

Instagram and Facebook allow you to create sponsored or promoted video ads and carousels that can be targeted to only appear on specific audience’s news feed. These adverts can be targeted by demographics, geographical region, interests, job roles and lifestyles. So, you can produce a video that is specifically made, for example, for females above the age of 50 who work in London, and are interested in fine dining. You can then target these females with a promotional advert for a competition to win a fine dining experience at your restaurant.

Youtube offers a similar experience where you can host a “pre-roll” advert before a video and an “in-video” advert during the video. These adverts have the opportunity of being highly targeted as you can choose the best Youtube Channels to advertise on to suit your company’s products. For example, Asda do pre-roll adverts that run before popular food Vlogs, which look like this.

It’s short, simple and resonates with the audience of foodies as it’s about food and has a similar look to a recipe video. This type of advert maximises on engagement as it’s quick and relates to the audience’s interests.

As well as targeted ads on Youtube you can also advertise via Google on relevant platforms including food channels and forums like the Food Network and Delish, popular food magazines like Olive Magazine and Plant Based, or food blogs like Cookie and Kate.

Simply Cook have a banner ad at the top of a Delish recipe blog. It’s bold and engaging, with clear branding that fits seamlessly across the overall site’s style.

 

Branded Content

Branded content is regular videos for social media channels churned out daily or weekly, that promote a brand’s products, personality and encourages consistent engagement from their customers.

You can use Youtube to create long form branded video content like recipe videos, videos of your company like “Meet the Team”, “Meet the Chefs” and “Inside the Kitchen”, or cooking shows. Videos like this highlight your company’s personality and gives your audience something insightful or useful to take away. It’s one of the best ways to drive engagement with your brand.

Mindful Chef filled us in on what they had been doing over the Christmas period, collecting food from customers and audiences to give to the homeless.

And Absolut Vodka have done videos on their Youtube channel showing how to create alcoholic cocktails like this one.

Longer form Youtube videos can be easily shortened and included in your social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram Stories. This offers people eye-catching and bite sized content.

These videos are effective at engaging audiences during their on-the-go activities, whether on their lunch, at the gym or on a train, it encourages them to stop and watch what you are up to because it’s exciting.

And seriously think about using Facebook or Instagram Live for highly dynamic videos that will really engage your followers. You can film events, talk shows that you host, something that’s happening in your company or a behind the scenes of a shoot. Because it’s live, people will stop and take notice.

 

Collaboration Videos  

Collaboration videos are a great way for food and drink brands to come together and promote a like minded message. If you’re a cereal brand you can collaborate with a milk brand to create different breakfast recipe ideas. Or, both brands could create a video to promote a trendy activity like Veganuary. You can also collaborate with like minded food bloggers and vloggers to promote your brand. Send them your products to feature on one of their videos and receive direct engagement from their loyal fans.

Spoon Cereal did a collaboration video with Liberte Yogurt UK and made a 2 minute recipe video on Youtube that they marketed on Instagram story.

Food and drink brands can also do paid partnerships and collaboration videos online with food channels like Tasty and have products featured in a Tasty recipe video on social media. Tasty recently did one on Instagram with Ciroc.

 

Influencer Video Marketing

This is a great way for food and drink brands to market their products. Influencer video marketing has become extremely popular in the last couple years. Because of the increasing popularity of social media, we have seen the proliferation of  “influential people”, a person with a wide or large network of fans and followers. We have “Public Figures” on Instagram, famous Vloggers on Youtube, bloggers who have turned into celebrities and celebrities in the “traditional sense” like TV chefs. If you can get Kim Kardashian to upload a picture of your product on her Instagram, you have instantly hit 1 million customers. It offers you reach, it has strong promotional value and advertises your products direct to your ideal customers. Just be ready to pay as these guys don’t come cheap!

The Goat Agency used their influencer network to promote Graze the healthy snacking brand. They selected female influencers with a large female following in the UK and got them to post videos of the Graze products with a promotional code on their Instagram stories.

There are also micro-influencers that won’t have the same 4M followers that a Kardashian has but they do have a solid 10K of loyal fans and followers. This could offer you a better return on your investment as you have more choice and you could spread the sponsorship across a different number of relevant influencers. If you’re a vegan milk brand who wants to break into the Australian market, you could send your products to a vegan lifestyle Vlogger in Australia.

 

Multichannel Campaign

Once you’ve mastered all those different forms of online video you can then begin to tie it all together and create one big multichannel campaign. These work extremely well in the lead up to an event or when promoting a new product or trend. For example, Veganuary is upon us and it happens every year. Greggs just launched their Vegan Sausage roll and promoted it online with a video that looked very similar to the IPhone advert.

For a whole month you can create a multichannel campaign of online videos, advertisements and events that all relate and compliment each other. You can post vegan recipe videos on youtube, post short versions of the recipe videos on social media, run online advertisements of the vegan products, and send out promotional videos of your products – all with the same look and feel. Finally, you hold pop ups around town or in supermarkets allowing the public to taste your product. This all ties together to create one big multichannel campaign that can receive a lot of audience engagement.

Over Christmas, Baileys spent 4.3M on a multichannel campaign called “It’s Not Christmas Without You” comprising of a TV ad, Outdoor ads, social media content and Pop up stalls, samplings and events in shopping centres. (The Grocer)

There are a lot a different ways food and drink brands can use video online but these are some of the ones that will really help push your brand into the limelight in 2019. And, as the number of people watching videos online only continues to grow, with video predicted to make up to 80% of all global traffic by 2019. (Tubular Insights) Why wouldn’t you be looking to creating video this year? Give some of these a go and really spice up your food and drink marketing this year with some awesome video content.

In today’s digital world, brands can now reach their customers with dozens of touch points from Google and Youtube to Facebook and Instagram. But there’s also a problem; with the proliferation of digital marketing, people are starting to become desensitised to online adverts – they’ve learnt how to tune out the digital ad noise.

 

As we move into the next decade of the 21st century, brands will have to work far harder to connect with their “audiences”. Conventional advertising won’t be enough. They will need to create educational, entertaining or informative content that puts their “audience-first” – putting the customer’s needs before the brand. Not only will this help them to compete for their customer’s attention, but it will also enable them to create a more meaningful relationship with their customers.

 

For consumers, this “Audience-First” video content will compete for their attention with TV programming and other forms of entertainment. The only difference is that the video content they love to watch online, will be powered by brands. For the Brands, the video content they provide will enable them to create a connection to their market and loyalty beyond anything they had experienced before.

 

A lot of major brands like Volvo, Patagonia and Red Bull already have Youtube channels dedicated to audience-first content. These include informative series about interesting people, places or topics that they know their audience will enjoy watching. Volvo run a documentary series called “Human Made Stories” looking at amazing people doing incredible things. Red Bull’s focus is on extreme sports; people snowboarding, mountain biking or surfing, where the only mention of Red Bull is a logo in the corner. And Patagonia do a series called  “Workwear” looking at craftspeople and workers doing interesting jobs. It’s not heavily branded and it’s video content that normal people love to watch.

 

So how do you get started with audience-first video content and how can you incorporate it into your own marketing strategy?

 

It’s firstly important to understand your demographic – their interests, their dislikes, their habits and their activities. You need to understand what sort of video content will resonate with them. It’s clear that a 25-year-old women in London may not enjoy watching the same content as a 50-year-old man in Leeds, unless they both share similar interests and passions. Once you’ve found a common thread to your customers, try to come up with ideas for video content that will resonate with them.

 

Social media platforms offer great tools to connect with customers and find out what they are interested by. Using Instagram stories you can directly ask your audience questions. By using “polls” or “ask me anything” tools, you can find out first hand what your audiences are interested in. So if you want inspiration for your first Youtube series then post the question on Instagram.

 

Audience-first content doesn’t have to be a massive production of documentaries or nation engaging stunts. It just has to be content that is made for your audience, whether that’s “how to videos”, interviews with experts, or recipe videos. At its core, Audience-first content should not be too heavily branded or advertorial. You need to make your audience forget there is any kind of branded message.

 

For more information on Audience-First content please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We always encourage our clients to explore audience-first content as we see this as the future focus for brands.

If you are an SME and haven’t heard of the term ambush marketing, then you may be missing a trick. It’s a high impact, cost effective way for brands to hog the limelight and is frequently being used by the likes of Pepsi, Burger King and Nike to generate huge sales. And the good news is that you don’t have to be a big brand to use ambush marketing. It works for emerging brands too. So, what is ambush marketing and why is it so effective?

Imagine you want to hold a street party but can’t afford it. Then you find out your neighbor is hosting his own street party with a band and an expensive sound system. So you invite all your friends over and pass the party off as your own. Before you know it, your neighbour’s guests have even ended up at your house. You’ve got the street party you always wanted and didn’t have to pay a thing. #partyambush.

Now imagine you are Coco Cola and you’ve paid a fortune to sponsor the World Cup. But then Pepsi, who hasn’t paid a penny in sponsorship, decides to rebrand all their drinks cans with pictures of the England World Cup team. They win sales from Coke without the hefty price tag of official sponsorship. Catch my drift?

The most common form of ambush marketing takes place surrounding key sporting events where brands would ordinarily have to pay for sponsorship like the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Olympics. But it can also be used for other key calendar events like Movie Releases, Royal Birthdays, Festivals OR to hijack big marketing announcements from other brands like Apple or Tesla. And that marketing can manifest in print, TV, digital, radio or a brand’s packaging.

So how can emerging brands use ambush marketing effectively? And what about video – how can you use it to amplify an ambush marketing campaign?

1. Be Direct

In this game you need to be proactive and keep a beady eye on your annual calendar. There are many events that pop up throughout the year which you could create some awesome content to generate buzz. Form connections through imagery, colour and slogans whether that’s Union Jacks for a Royal Wedding, rainbows for London Pride or in the case of Blue Kitchen restaurant this year – create a social media video.
During the world cup they create this video which referenced Maradona’s famous “Hands of God”. So even thought Blues Kitchen has no official connection to the present world cup they formed a strong association that would have resonated with their audience.

Your ambush doesn’t just have to be inline with a specific event – it can stem from anything that is current or trending. You need look no further than social media for the latest meme or hot topic. Do you remember when fidget spinners first came into town and how everybody went crazy for them? Well Burger King took that trend in their stride and produced this awesome Gif…

As an emerging brand this is exactly the type of trend that could you easily to create some content around.

2. Be Fearless

To make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. So to stay ahead of your competition, you’ll have to risk putting a few noses out of joint with your ambush marketing. Look at what your competitors are doing or any bigger brands that you could ambush and then form a marketing campaign around their events. For example, in 2012, Nike piggybacked off London Olympic fervor with their own TV campaign called “Find your Greatness” despite the fact that Adidas were the official sponsor, not Nike.

And an example of an emerging brand jumping on a big brand’s bandwagon is Mous – they timed the release of their indestructible phone case with the arrival of the Iphone X. They even ambushed the long queue outside the Apple store and filmed some video content with the hopeful Iphone owners putting their indestructible case through its paces.

3. Be Predatory

Look for opportunities to have a dig at your competition. Here’s another example from Burger King where they hijacked the cinema release of the Clown horror film “IT” and used it to poke fun at their main competitor McDonalds with the slogan “Never Trust a Clown”. They created this piece of video content to promote the campaign.

And Android released this advert for their Smart watches just before the release of the Apple Watch, making the point that as an Android smart watch owner they have different styles so you can still be individual but with Apple, you only get one choice.

As an emerging brand there are so many opportunities lying in wait for you to do your own ambush marketing campaign, whether that’s piggybacking off a major event, jumping on a new trend that’s doing the rounds on social media or having a dig at some of your bigger competitors with a counterintuitive video campaign. Just look at the calendar and for anything you can take advantage of, then start your scheming! Be the predator, not the prey.

 

Regardless of the type of client, industry or budget, we see the same pattern of mistakes emerging when brands decide to commission a video.

 

  1. Going with the cheapest quote.

 

When it comes to commissioning video for your business, the landscape for finding a video specialist is a minefield, littered with all kinds of video production providers; from marketing agencies to video production companies and freelance videographers.

When navigating your path to the right video producer, there is often a temptation to go for the cheapest solution.  In fact, your mate Dave is pretty handy with his Canon DSLR and filmed your sister’s wedding last year. And Sam from Accounts has a brother who’s graduated from film school and set himself up as a videographer. He’s willing to create your video for free. But before you go down the tempting route of finding someone cheap, consider this; what is the true cost of working with an inexperienced video producer?

 

Before we answer that question, let me ask another one… If you’d bought a plot of land and were about to build your family’s dream home who would you hire? Would it be a professional architect with a solid reputation, proven track record, references and access to the best builders, carpenters and plumbers? Or would you hire your next door neighbour’s son who’s pretty handy with a hammer and did their loft conversion last year?

 

When you hire an inexperienced videographer with no track record, you might save yourself some money on paper, but you’ll end up paying the price 10 fold in the long run. There is the chance that you’ll get lucky as there are some amazingly talented freelancers out there, but it’s a gamble you should be willing to risk losing. Inexperience can result in a whole host of problems from being given a poor quality video that can cause brand damage to a lack of professionalism, leading to an unreliable service and unexpected costs.

But beyond those issues, the biggest problem our clients have reported from hiring inexperienced videographers is the time strain and stress caused by them having to micromanage the project. As soon as the cracks start to appear in a video production, you will be sucked into trying to problem solve and sort out the mistakes.  

 

 

  1. Thinking of the video company as “technicians” and driving the creative from in-house.

 

There’s often a perception that videography is like photography – you need a photographer for a shoot, you just hire them to take photos. So surely a videographer is the same? But in reality the two are very, very different.

When you need product photos, portraits, fashion images or pictures of an event, you hire a photographer for the day on a flat rate with a potential cost for processing. But the minute you decide to create video of the same things, it becomes more complicated. And here’s why…

 

A photographer can rely on a simple moment in time, captured in a single image that tells a story. But for a videographer, that story has to be told through a series of video clips. And for a proper story to be told through video, the videographer needs to plan the shoot before hand and build a narrative. Unlike a photographer, the videographer also has to record sound from the environment they are filming in and then potentially add more sound to their video in terms of music or sound effects.

All this means that the video they create needs to be edited and that takes far longer than it takes to film. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For any production that’s more complicated, the videographer cannot work alone. Other players will need to be enlisted from producers, directors and script-writers to sound operators, lighting technicians, editors and motion graphics specialists.

 

Sometimes, brands and agencies believe that they can cook up an idea for a video in the same way they might plan a photo shoot, then hire a videographer to come and film the concept they’ve created. They are then surprised when at best it doesn’t turn out the way they expected and at worst is a complete shambles. Video production is more than just the videographer shooting the footage, it’s a team effort from the producers in pre-production using their expertise to create the best concepts and storyboards through to the specialist post-production team who add the bells and whistles to the finished product.

 

 

  1. Not having a clear budget.

 

The most common experience we have when speaking to prospects is that they won’t be transparent about budget. Sometimes they say they don’t know what their budget is, other times they are just evasive and want to find out how we charge and what our “rates” are. Unfortunately, whilst this may seem like a chicken and egg exercise, it actually isn’t. Without a basic steer on budget, any production company worth their salt cannot provide a realistic quote.

 

Think of the person offering the quote as the project manager of a house build. If you put that individual on a patch of land and say “I want to build a house here and I want it to have 5 rooms – how much will it cost?”, there is absolutely no conceivable way that the project manager can offer you a realistic quote. If they do offer you a “competitive” quote then you can bet anything that the final price will be far higher than the quote. Without knowing the scale of the project, the materials you want to build in and the finish on the inside, how can that Project Manager accurately quote?

 

It’s the same in video production, we need to know how long the video needs to be, what level of expertise the camera operator and equipment should be, whether you need a soundman, lighting, added equipment, how long the edit will take and whether you want added elements like graphics. It’s a complex build that is tailored to the available budget.

 

  1. Not having a clear objective for the video.

 

We see time and time again where companies decide they want to create video but they don’t think about their objectives or what outcome they want it. Without a clear strategy going in to creating video content, you may as well flush your money down the toilet.

The first thing we always do when talking to our clients about creating video is to identify the overall objective and who they want this video to be seen by. It’s the most important factor and informs everything we do. Is this B2B or B2C? What demographics are we targeting? How will the video be shared? What is the objective of this video? Sales? Brand image? Production explanation? All these questions need to be answered before we can come up with creative concepts for the video. For example, if the video has ad spend behind it and is destined for Facebook pay-per-click then it needs to be very short and punchy but if we are relying on organic shares then we’ve got to create a strong hook so people engage with it. Conversely, if this video is B2B and will be sent out via email, then perhaps we can assume a pre-existing level of knowledge and familiarity with the subject matter in your audience, so we can have a longer video with more depth to it. By having clear KPIs and understanding of the core objective for the video you will get far more out of it than just creating video for video’s sake.

 

  1. Not aligning video to brand purpose.

 

Video should always be seen as an extension of your brand identity. When done correctly, it will feel like a seamless transition from your print materials, web site and brand image through to video. This is done through the style, tone, fonts, imagery and colour. Too often, companies will use video inconsistently, putting up a series of videos that have nothing connecting them. Or worse, they will post videos to their social feed that are amateur or home made. A third of people who watched a poor quality video had a negative perception of that brand. Video should always be integrated into a company’s marketing strategy from the outset and even if it’s only used sparingly, it should reflect the quality of the brand. Lack of budget should not be used as an excuse for putting poor quality video out into the public domain. With careful planning and a reliable video production company, most budgets can be stretched to create video content that will have a high impact in the right way. For example, a single day’s filming could be done in a way that generates large volumes of material that can be recycled into a series of short videos for your social media feed. By setting a style for the look of the videos from filming techniques to motion graphics, larger volumes of content can be generated for a fraction of the cost.

 

  1. Not getting on the front foot with a good video partner.

 

All companies with a marketing strategy can benefit from using video and most of them know that. But we often see that unless there is an immediate need for video, most people don’t bother to find themselves a video production partner. The result is that when they finally realise they need to commission some video work, they are already on the back foot. The deadline looms faster than they thought and they are forced to hire the first company they find even though they may not be the best. This can lead to paying above the odds for an inferior product.

There are a lot of benefits to partnering with a video production company for future opportunities. We have a few companies we work with on a rolling basis and it brings huge benefits to them. Firstly, we’re always on the phone to discuss any video ideas they have and to brainstorm concepts with them as well as budgets. This can help with internal marketing briefs they are putting together or in the case of agencies, with pitches to clients. Because a relationship is in place, there is a transparency to pricing and budgets that installs a sense of trust in all the players. Everyone values the relationship and wants it to continue so no one is going to take advantage of the other. And finally, its in the vested interests of the video production company to keep the relationship going so they will always try to deliver above expectations. In this way, we’ve helped some of our clients to win big contracts with some major brands and we’ve helped others to put a lasting content strategy in place that maximised their yearly marketing budget.

 

mistakes commissioning video

 

George Hughes set up Small Films with a simple ambition – to create brilliant films for brilliant people. Over the past 14 years he’s learnt his craft in the television industry working in the UK and USA as a Producer / Director and camera operator making hundreds of hours of high profile series for major broadcasters including the BBC and Discovery Channel. From hard-hitting documentaries about the mafia to light-hearted cooking shows with high-profile chefs, he has worked with a wide range of budgets, briefs and subject matters and is excited at transferring this experience into the production of branded content. George and his team are passionate about partnering with like-minded people and organisations to create amazing films. For more information, or a chat about commissioning video content, contact us here.

Over the last few years, the rise of new technologies has dramatically transformed the way audiences consume and perceive video advertising – and change continues at a staggering pace. Millennials and Generation Z aren’t interested in watching live television. Instead they turn to Netflix to binge-watch their favourite drama series or surf Youtube and other platforms for content relating to their particular interests or passions. As traditional broadcast audiences grow older and conventional TV viewing figures decline, focus for advertisers has shifted to the online space. In 2017 brands and advertisers spent twice as much on online advertising as they did on TV (Magisto), and this is set to grow.

Adapting to rapidly changing online technologies has had a massive impact on the nature of the advertising format itself. Without the luxury of a captive static TV audience, and with an increasing consumer distrust of disruptive and overt advertising, advertisers are having to get both creative and technical in the way they approach marketing to their ever fragmenting and mobile audiences. Today’s tech savvy consumer demands a choice of uninterrupted entertaining online experiences – and they are ready to skip, switch channels or switch devices if they don’t like what they see. Audiences have always had the opportunity to ‘go and put the kettle on’ during traditional broadcast ad breaks if the content was unengaging of course – but the potential of an ‘ad rejection’ moment is now multiplied 100 fold online.

 

The ongoing challenge for brands and advertisers then, is ‘how do we stop consumers reaching for that virtual kettle?’

 

These are the questions brands need to consider:

 

 

WHAT types of content will engage consumers?

The internet has changed the way people can and choose to view content. It’s no longer simply a case of marketing to a static audience who are sitting down for a few dedicated hours of TV watching. There are now many more ways for people to consume content via multiple devices (TV, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearable tech – often simultaneously), and many more opportunities for consuming content away from the traditional home leisure space and time. Marketers now have the opportunity to reach people as they move around during the day, travel from place to place, at work, at school – and as they’re spending their leisure time. This poses a challenge for the types of content brands should be producing:

 

  • On-The-Go – Snackable, scrollable content

There’s no point putting out 30 second videos for people to view when they’re on-the-go, waiting in a queue, checking messages or walking down the road. This audience is using mobile phones and needs bitesize, 6 second chunks of mobile optimised content that will briefly grab their attention as they scroll through their feeds, moving from task to task. The average adult scrolls through 70+ feet of social media feed every single day, so content has have an instant hook for the viewer to notice. A recent report revealed a 26% increase in brand awareness through brands using scroller ad formats. (IAB)

 

This ad by jobs website Reed has it all incuding kittens, humour and a 6 second in-your-face spot at the beginning.

 

 

  • Lean forward content

People with a bit more time on their hands, will spend a little longer choosing to view and more importantly, engage with, content in a bit more depth. They might be travelling to work on the bus, waiting in a doctor’s office or be on a break. They are still using mobile devices, though can also be at their desks viewing on desktop computers and laptops. This content should encourage ‘lean-forward’ user interaction in the content experience in the form of prompting users to like, comment on, share, or embed videos. It should resonate with the desired audience in a way that encourages them to engage with it.

 

These Volvo Trucks short brand videos are highly entertaining action adventure stunts designed to pull the viewer in and elicit engagement.

 

 

  • Lean back content

The traditional type of leisure-time content consumption. Audiences who are static and relaxing will consume long-form, long-term content formats. For marketing content to compete with other content in this space it needs to be highly creative and emotionally engaging, employ great storytelling and in fact integrate with the surrounding content so as not to disrupt the consumer experience. Interesting branded content  like documentaries  or brand-made programmes can work well in this space. Although they may be static – the majority of people will still be browsing on mobile devices so content needs to be mobile optimised. This is the optimal time for simultaneous platform usage. 87% of consumers now watch TV together with a second screen (Deloitte Digital Consumer Survey.)

 

Stella Artois partnered with National Geographic to commission an award wining film director to make a documentary highlighting the impact of the global water crisis on communities around the world – a compelling piece of quality long-form ‘lean back’ branded content.

 

 

HOW will brands engage consumers with content?

The increasing rejection of overt advertising means brands are having to be more creative and consumer-focused in their marketing content strategies. Along with producing different types of video content for different devices and types of consumers as we have seen, brands now need to think about HOW best to reach these fragmented audiences.

 

  • Personalisation

With the increase in digital marketing noise and content choices available to them, consumers are becoming less responsive to content they perceive as less relevant to them. Brands will have to produce tailored content accurately targeted to specific audience member interests and browsing habits. They will also need to harness technology to make use of location-based marketing so that they can target consumers according to where they are at any given moment.

 

Tesco Clubcard produced a personalised awareness and retention campaign.

 

 

  • ‘Audience First’

Rather than placing expensive paid advertising with the big, general reach global publishers and broadcasters, brands will have to find different ways of marketing to their targeted audience segments. As consumers watch more self-selected video content and less broadcast TV, brands are creating their own video content channels and collaborating on ‘audience first’ content shared via video influencers. Macro influencers with more than 100,000 subscribers or followers on their social channels have been in the ascendancy up to now but with growing audience segmentation and targeting, brands are increasingly partnering with micro-influencers on content production.

 

Have a look at these examples of top brands successfully collaborating with micro-influencers, particularly in the Instagram video space.

 

 

  • Quality

Social media algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, and as has already happened on Facebook, overt hard-sell advertising will be penalised and brands will have to work much harder to get their messages in front of their audiences. Brands will need to create more thoughtful, entertaining, and value-adding videos that consumers will actively choose to watch and share in order to beat the algorithms. Quality over quantity will be key in the video content of the future.

 

Coors Light revamped its frivolous image with a series of high-quality, value-adding short docufilms, presenting their products in real-life situations and places, while telling compelling real-life stories.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbj10JszdZs

 

 

  • Cross-channel content

With audiences using multiple devices and consuming content via multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously, brands will have to adopt a user-centric integrated approach to content in order to get a better ROI.

 

Heineken’s Departure Roulette is a great example of a cross-channel integrated, interactive video campaign.

 

 

 

So the future of video marketing content is full of opportunity and the potential for brands to accurately reach their target audiences will be better than ever before. The biggest challenge for brands will be getting noticed online and cutting through the increasing digital marketing noise. Only the brands that think creatively, embrace technology and adopt a user-centred approach to their content will get results. Surely this can only be a good thing for the digital advertising industry – and consumers in general?

 

 

If your business would like help creating quality video content for multiple platforms, contact us at info@smallfilms.com.

 

 

Small Films are video content specialists. By combining strategic minds with creative flair we create powerful stories with video that deeply resonate with audiences, supporting our clients to achieve their ambitions in growing their organisation, brand or campaign.

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