Video on the Web: Where to Start


online_video_small.jpgADOTAS — “How much for a web video?”

I don’t know about you, but I get that question all the time. Video on the web has officially come of age for advertisers (a long-anticipated event, at least for this former spot director), and everybody wants in on it. Everybody.

Of course, a lot of the groundwork that was laid to get to this point, at least in the minds of most advertisers, has led to the mistaken belief among too many that you can do just about anything in video, slap it up on the web somewhere, and you’ll have the next viral hit. Or at least, people who are, ever so remotely, interested in the broad category your product fits into will flock to watch what you put up, no matter what you put up. Oh, and by the way, how much?

I sometimes have a hard time believing it, but too many advertisers are still in a mind-space that treats the web as a thing, a plug-in, a commoditized unit, that can simply be applied to a marcom mix in nice, even increments. Sorry folks, it just doesn’t work that way.

Cheap, done-on-a-webcam, silly little videos can, yes, become global viral hits. But the chances of your regional sales manager, talking across his desk about “added consumer value” to a guy with a camcorder, becoming the next Numa Numa are — remote, at best. To be fair, maybe you’re not after the next viral hit. But I’m assuming you do want someone to watch what you upload.

I’m not one of those ad guys who says you have to spend what we used to spend on TV commercials to make a web video that’s watchable. You do, if you come up with an idea that requires the same production specs. But the key to what you need to spend has everything to do with the ideas you generate. And that has everything to do with what you hope to accomplish with your video on the web. Which, together, make the calculations for the price of a web video exactly like the calculations for any other type of advertising creative: It all depends on what you want it to do, and the idea you create to do it. Important here to note that actually having an idea in the first place is the real cost of entry.

Making effective web video boils down to ideas that connect with the people you want to connect with. If the idea is there, the video will do its job. The idea, of course, is going to tell you how much you’ll need to spend. If your idea involves explosions and car crashes, please don’t try to do it on your intern’s camcorder. But if said intern’s camcorder represents all the money you have to spend — don’t automatically give up, either. Spend more time thinking, or get someone to think smarter, and there’s every chance you can create something that connects, on a much lower budget. But you’ll have to leave the explosions out of it.

There are good, cheap web videos. There are bad ones, too. Just like there are good expensive web videos, and bad ones to go along with those. It’s not the price that makes it work, or fail. It’s the idea. Start there.


  1. [4:11:10 PM] * Michel: In my opinion web video should be one of the media used as aditive transmedia storytelling but not alone. We need to create large stories: stories that cannot fit into a single medium but can unfold throughout different platforms.
    Web video is a huge part of this kind of storytelling via portals and videoblogs, but other platforms have to add content to the stories.

  2. I found this great site called that does a pretty innovative thing with web video. They have these interactive videos and websites that are produced using actors they shot on green screen. You supply a script and images via an order form and they do the rest for a very cheap price as compared to TV commercials. I think they have a good handle on doing this type of thing.


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