“Video Killed the Radio Ads..."

My eldest son is halfway through his second year at university, for which he’s paying £9k a year tuition fees. “Most of the lecturers are great”, he said, “ but there’s one bloke who makes no sense at all - so after one of his lectures we all get on to YouTube, where there’s a fantastic site that explains what he’s been on about…”

Leaving aside the question of what exactly he’s paying £9k a year for, this makes the point that people are becoming more and more comfortable with the idea that online video can inform them, teach them, show them, persuade them and engage them.

To support that, here’s an interesting factoid: Cisco reckon that by 2017, video is going to make up nearly 70% of all consumer internet traffic. That’ll include stuff from Netflix of course, endless YouTube lectures and Lolcats, and a whole clutch of other things - including marketing and advertising videos.

And a Business Insider report suggests that online video ads will grow much faster than almost all other forms of advertising, so advertising and marketing videos are very probably going to keep up with the wider online video growth rate.

Advertising and marketing managers have been quick to exploit this opportunity, to good effect, which is why video is killing the radio ads, etc.

But - and it’s a big but - just because you put a video up there, it doesn’t mean people will watch it. Stand for a moment with me at the online video equivalent of Speakers’ Corner. Rank after serried rank of digital soap-boxes stretch as far as your browser can see, many of them topped by ranting lunatics with straw in their hair. The speakers froth away, digitally speaking, but very often you’re either left completely baffled, or exhausted from the effort of picking the core message out from the razzmatazz that surrounds it.

If your video is going to engage people, less is very definitely more. The Internet Advertising Bureau UK picked up on this in a recent article on the rise of the short-form video and we think they’ve got it dead right. If you can wrap up your key message in a simple, catchy, easy to watch way then you’ve cracked it. People will watch it because they want to, they’ll email the link to their friends, and most importantly, they’ll understand what you’re trying to tell them.

This becomes especially important where your message is complicated. You need to make everything as simple as possible (but no simpler) and cut the crap. Bung in a slight sprinkling of humour, to spice it up a bit. And know when to stop.