Brand Opportunities in Long-Form Video

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film_smallADOTAS – Only four weeks after the Phillips Electronics Company posted its five-part film series “Parallel Lines” on YouTube, the initiative garnered over 1.3 million views and more than 50,000 Facebook fans.

A collaboration between Phillips, film director Ridley Scott and a rising generation of creative consumers, “Parallel Lines” signals a new paradigm where marketers utilize long-form, entertainment-driven content to engage audiences and drive brand awareness online.

Roger Camp, Chief Creative Officer at Publicis & Hal Riney, maintains, “We are learning the rules, and it’s that entertainment is king.”

In the battle to capture consumers’ shrinking attention spans, it will be through brand-enabled content, built on story-telling and characters, that will be a key difference-maker in online marketing.

Long-form video advertising is still a small piece of the advertising landscape, representing less than 1% of total online spending in 2009 (circa $200 million). Marketers continue to buy display ads en masse (nearly $5 billion in 2009) and repurpose broadcast commercials for pre-roll and in-stream video ads (approximately $1 billion in 2009).

While these methods may be an effective way to carpet bomb your way to top of mind awareness, the question remains, “At what cost and to what effect?”

According to industry estimates, display ads average a .02% click-through rate. Moreover, people are just as loath to watch commercials on the Internet as they are on TV. In a recent Hulu experiment where viewers were given the choice of watching a two-minute ad before an online program or two 30-sec ads during the program, 88% chose the long-form video ad. Audiences are looking to brands for the same type of engaging and entertaining content that they search out online.

Brands and agencies have begun to take notice of the opportunities offered by long-form advertising in a digital world, but there is a great deal of potential yet to be realized. Not only is there less of a need to spend on distribution (as high-quality content is organically shared and delivers “earned” media for brands), but long-form content also allows brands to communicate their message in a more discreet and engaging way.

The holy grail for brands is to find a way to

  1. generate a diverse library of high-quality, long-from advertising;
  2. create a distribution mechanism that allows for that content go “viral”; and
  3. migrate away from agency rates built upon a broadcast model.

Engendering “virality” for brand campaigns is simple. Combine a community of tastemakers — content creators that have built-in audiences across their blogs, YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and Facebook — with the ability to produce a diverse library of high-quality content quickly and efficiently, and the chances of at least one video going viral increase geometrically.

These programs combine the immediacy and energy of a crowdsource model with creative oversight and agency controls — giving brand partners a transformative resource for their content needs. Through packaging the best product attributes of the Internet (scalability, efficiency, relevancy) with entertainment-fueled creativity, the promise is there to create long-form online video that viewers will want to watch, interact with and share.

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