Before Shooting for Video Marketing Success, Learn to Hit a Moving (i.e., Mobile) Target

Originally published on CommPRO, September 29, 2015

CommProbizFrom D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation to the recent Mad Max reboot, the chase scene always has been a staple of movies. Part of what makes the chase so exciting, of course, is that heroes and villains spend much of the chase jumping from horse or vehicle to horse or vehicle – or sometimes both. The understood difficulty of hitting a moving target at high speed creates tension and thrills that really get your heart pumping.

While perhaps not as exciting to watch, the ability to hit a moving target while operating at high speed now has become critical to another group – Internet marketers. A recent infographic – “2015: The Year of Video Marketing” – tells this tale. An international software firm compiled some stunning statistics about the growing impact of video as a digital marketing asset. For example:

  • Experts believe that video will take up 57% of consumer internet traffic in 2015, which nearly is 4x as much as web browsing and email;
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than 3/4s of a video;
  • And, here’s the most striking stat, online video already accounts for half of all mobile traffic.

Talk about jumping from horse to vehicle in short order. Midway through 2015 came a report from eMarketer. According to BIA/Kelsey data, mobile search will overtake desktop search in 2015. Not just by a little either. They expect to see 81.8 billion U.S. local searches conducted via mobile devices this year, an increase of 23%, while desktop searches drop slightly to 64.6 billion. Those trends are expected to continue, with mobile search reaching 141.9 billion searches by 2019.

Why the incredible increase? The ubiquity of mobile devices is one big reason. Research firm IDC says mobile device sales in the U.S. will decline one percent this year. But the reason isn’t that we’ve lost interest in mobile. It’s that we’ve reached the saturation point. Mobile devices are so popular that everyone who is going to own one probably does, and they’re hanging on to the ones they have longer than they once did.

Another driving factor is the growth of the Millennial generation. There are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers (87 million v 76 million) – the first time the Boomers have been out-paced by any generation since they were born. Millennials have never known a world without readily available mobile devices, and they continue to rely on these devices as their method of choice for communication and connection.

So, like a movie chase, one megatrend in digital marketing is chasing another, grabbing one market driver after another to carry them at breakneck speed into the future. A whole bunch of Boomers and Millennials buy cell phones and then – no surprise – mobile search rockets to the head of the pack. And then, all those cell-carrying consumers start streaming video to all those screens in the palms of their hands, and – hold on tight – video starts zipping by one online marketing technique after another, drawing neck and neck with mobile.

But before marketers start laying bets on video to win it all, they need to review the facts presented in this article and understand that, in this movie analogy, mobile and video are not rivals but allies. And mobile is the teammate that will beat back all comers.

If marketers have, to date, paid little or no attention to their customers’ mobile experience or developing mobile-search strategies must re-think their mindset. And quickly.

The user experience is critical, especially given the lack of patience the Internet has created. When users go to a site, whether it’s via a desktop or mobile device, they expect it to work quickly and seamlessly – with or without video. If the site doesn’t, they’re only a back button away from checking out a competitor. And once they hit that back button – whether because a site isn’t loading fast enough, or isn’t readable on their mobile device – you don’t just lose that sale. It could have a significant effect on the lifetime value of that customer or prospect.

Think of what that does to your investment in paid search. You spend many months and dollars developing ads – maybe animating some as video clips — researching keywords, testing and analyzing to determine what will be most effective in driving customers to your website. Then when customers arrive, what they find immediately drives them away. That’s like spending millions of marketing dollars to draw viewers to an action flick and then when the audience arrives the focus is blurry, the sound is garbled and the scenes are edited in reverse order. Few would sit through five minutes, let alone 90 or 120 of them. All that marketing investment would be lost.

So, how do you know if your online experience is welcoming visitors or driving them away? One good way is to use your analytics package to get into the details of user behavior online. By analyzing every step in the buyer’s journey you can determine not only how many visitors your search campaign is drawing, but also what they’re doing when they get there.

A high bounce rate, for example tells you people are coming to the site but they’re not clicking through it. That could be because your campaign isn’t drawing the right people, or because the right people are having a poor customer experience. A little investigation should help you determine which one is the actual cause.

Now here’s the big question: With all of this happening, what do smart marketers need to do to ensure they’re hitting those 81 billion mobile targets?

The good news is, much of it is the same. You still need to create ad groups and keywords. Those really don’t change between desktop and mobile, so the work you’ve already done can still pay off. As mentioned previously, the analytics are largely the same as well.

You may, however, need to make other adjustments. For example, ad extensions for mobile may need to change from “click for more information” to “click to call.” Using a mobile device’s ability to place a call can have a huge impact on moving prospects through the funnel and improving your conversion rates. And if you do use video, you’ll need your call to action as early as possible in the content rather than running as a close.

You also may need to change your bid strategy. Getting the #4 position on a desktop might work. On a mobile device it won’t be enough. If you can, you may want to change your bid modifiers so you’re showing up in the top three instead.

In addition, you may need to change your web development strategy. Even if your site is optimized for mobile using responsive design, it may not be delivering the desired experience. Again, check the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your analytics to ensure your mobile site is delivering the appropriate experience.

One final word of note: these principles apply to B2B advertisers just as much as B2C. Don’t assume a B2B buyer will be office- or PC-bound. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has created a tectonic shift in the workplace, and many B2B searches now begin on a mobile device – even if they are ultimately fulfilled on a desktop. A poor mobile experience means they’ll never get to that desktop.

Hitting a moving target is far more difficult than one that’s standing still. But it’s not impossible. Use what you’ve learned already, make the proper adjustments, and you’ll find yourself leading the pack in our increasingly mobile, vid-friendly marketing chase.

Think Before You Leap into Paid Video Search

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Originally published on Chief Marketer, Dec. 17, 2015

squirrel in the air

Paid video search presents a wide range of opportunities for savvy marketers.

But like anything else you still need to be sure you have a reason for getting into paid video search. Remember when your mom said “If your friends were jumping off a bridge would you do it too?” She was right.

Here’s a look at what’s driving the trend, and factors that can help you decide whether it makes sense for your organization.

Explosive growth

There’s no dispute video is rapidly overtaking text and images as the preferred method for consuming content on the Internet. Video already accounts for 64% of all web traffic, and that figure is expected to rise to 80% by 2019.

Part of the reason for this growth is the continued use of mobile to watch video. For example, YouTube says half of all views of its content are on mobile devices. As more videos become mobile-friendly, and wireless connections get faster, you can expect that figure to continue to rise.

But it’s not just about greater availability. Forrester estimates that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text. That’s pretty attractive to marketers in their ever-present quest to break through the clutter.

The big attraction of video to marketers, though, is that it is currently the road less traveled. Traditional paid search has become ultra-competitive (and expensive), in part as a result of developments such as close variant matching. As search results are broadened to the “close enough” level, more marketers are jumping in. Since fewer organizations are taking advantage of video search, eyeballs can be acquired for a relative bargain. Mom would appreciate that thriftiness.

At the same time, tools are being introduced that make it easier to measure the effectiveness of paid video search. For example, Google is making a real effort to integrate the YouTube advertising platform into AdWords. They also have a product in beta called True View for Shopping that combines video with shopping feeds. Consumers can watch a video, click on a product image and shop right there.

That should help overcome one of the biggest objections, which is the lack of ability to directly attribute a purchase to a consumer watching a video. Currently, Google recommends using attribution marketing to measure the effectiveness of a video. With TrueView for Shopping, however, marketers will be able to use last-click conversion measurements much more effectively.

Change in the way video is consumed

Perhaps one of the biggest factors contributing to the growth of video is the change in the way it’s consumed. Video viewing (mainly on television) used to be controlled by the content providers.

Now, anyone can watch what they want, when they want. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and their ilk have seen to that. Measuring the audience has been challenging, although Nielsen may have cracked the code on Netflix. On other sites Google TrueView will ensure you’re paying only for actual views, rather than estimated viewership.

The net takeaway is consumers are not spending as much time flopping on their couch watching whatever is pushed to them. Instead, they are seeking out content on their own terms, and on a variety of devices—even while they are outside enjoying the nice day (as Mom suggested).

There’s always a “but…”

With all that going for it, why shouldn’t marketers just jump whole-hog into video? To be effective, at least at present, you need to be sure your attribution modeling is in place so you can judge the success of your paid video search. If it isn’t, you need to get that house in order first. Especially if your product or service is more of a considered purchase. Taking time to understand your audience and build the models will help you drive more value throughout your campaign.

It’s also important to be patient with your campaigns. The downside of consumers viewing content when and how they want is it could take a while for your videos to be discovered and viewed by your target audience. Again, this is another good reason to ensure your attribution models are in order, so you won’t pull the plug too soon.

To video or not to video          

Essentially, there are three ways you can proceed:

  • Wait for the right time for you and your customers
  • Proceed slowly and cautiously, at a pace that avoids major gaffes
  • As quickly as possible; the Internet moves so fast any mistakes will be behind you quickly

Which is the right way to go? Mom would say “I don’t know” is not an answer. And she’s right. Actually, any of them could be correct.

If you are an industrial or B2B marketer, and video isn’t prevalent in your industry, you can probably afford to wait. Particularly if you don’t currently have any video assets and your customers aren’t demanding that you get some.

If you’re a retailer, or sell products or services through direct response, right now is a great time to get in. Especially if you already have some video available. The market is primed and the competition level is relatively low. You can “own” video search for much less than it might cost for text-based search. Even if you don’t have video right now, however, there are specialty companies that can help you develop some quickly—and at low cost.

If your organization is risk-averse, proceeding slowly might be the best bet. Try video on your website and gauge the reaction. Use your Google analytics to monitor how often your videos are viewed, if visitors are staying through them and if they are going from one to the next. That will tell you whether your content has the potential to work on a broader scale so you can expand into channels such as YouTube. Even if you make a few missteps, the learning effort will be worth it, and those errors likely will be forgotten quickly.