The Impact of Video on Online Marketing

A Conversation with Tim Keef, Director of Marketing and Communications at UC Irvine

When and why did you begin using video in your marketing efforts?Tim Keef

We started using video as a marketing tool several years ago, but we really made a concerted effort to utilize video in a promotional way two years ago.  This started as creating video content that was more in the vein of “content marketing”, and these consisted of lists that could have a shelf life on platforms like YouTube.  Our efforts have evolved in the last year to incorporate commercials for use as pre-roll on digital video platforms and players and on broadcast, testimonials of our students and instructors, and promo videos for each of our certificate programs.  In the next year, we are looking at producing more video promos and looking at creating video specifically for platforms like Instagram.

What has surprised you about the use of video in marketing?

Anecdotally, I was surprised by the video view rate and completion rate of our promo videos on YouTube.  We had a fairly high completion rate on a skippable ad, which for an ad that is touting continuing education, was particularly surprising to me.  Overall, I was a bit taken aback by the amount of buy-in our department received throughout the organization to pursue video creation as a means to market our products.  Sometimes marketing efforts are met with criticism, and I guess I wasn’t expecting such universal approval and excitement.

What was harder than you expected? What was easier than you expected?

Creating video content that is appealing to our target audience and does its job of successfully promoting our programs was challenging.  We had to keep going back to the drawing board, asking ourselves “what would someone want to watch?  What would make someone watch this?”.  Expectations for what video ads are and how they convey their message is extremely high, so it has been challenging hitting the right mix of relevant professionalism and compelling content within our video efforts.  Reporting concrete ROI has been a challenge as most of the time our videos are purely for branding and advertising and do not have a clear call to action.  It has also been a challenge finding the right platforms in which to post our video content to maximize its impact.  We have worked with JMH to help with this and the results have been fantastic.  They have done an expert job of placing the video ads in places where they will get viewed the most by our target audience and have optimized our campaigns to ensure the best viewing metrics.

As far as what has been easier than expected, I would say getting a commercial cut for broadcast and digital specs.  We created our first 30 second commercial and we were live digitally and on Television almost immediately.  Again, this is thanks to the efforts of partners like JMH and our PR firm Echo Media.  Additionally, and I’m not sure if this is an anomaly, my team has deftly pivoted with each project seamlessly and has churned out video content in a variety of formats and lengths for any number of platforms.

What are the lessons learned that you wan to share with others who are thinking about using video?

I would say, try to determine who your target audience is, what platforms you will use, and what you want to convey with your videos before creating the video.  If you target audience skews younger, do some research and see what looks compelling on platforms your audience might use.  If you think Facebook is the best venue, create a video that would work best for that platform.  Same goes for Instagram, YouTube and if you are looking into marketing on large, content-driven websites.  We advertise on the LA Times, so the videos we use there are completely different from what we use on Instagram.  It is much easier to start storyboarding, script-writing and scheduling when you know the overall tone and feel of your video.  Knowing who the audience is and on what platforms you want to reach them on is crucial.

I would also say, partner with content distributors and vendors who know how to help you get the maximum exposure for your video.  Too often, departments create videos and then they sit on YouTube and get minimal views.  Once you have created your video,  utilize internal resources to their fullest extent to put them out there, and use partners to set up campaigns designed at optimizing and magnifying reach.  As previously mentioned, this has been successful for us through the buy-in and efforts of our internal marketing team and our relationship with partners like JMH who have allowed us to reach tens of thousands of viewers, who in turn, are potential students.