Matthew Patrick knows about online video from both the creator side and the brand side. Yesterday, we posted part one of his interview with OnlineVideo.net, where he offered tips on capturing the attention of holiday shoppers. Today, we present part two, where he talks about putting a holiday video plan into action.
Tell us about holiday timelines. Where should brands and agencies be in their holiday video planning at this point? Is there still time to make a splash and get some attention with a holiday video campaign?
If you want to create specialty videos for the Christmas season and Black Friday, things like that, if you don’t have your content locked and loaded at this point you’re going to be really coming down to the wire. Working with our past branded clients, we know how long a lot of those pipelines take to get the necessary approvals to run a piece of content across one of their official distribution sites or one of their approved distribution channels. If that content isn’t ready to go at this point, it’s going to be getting pretty close. That being said, if you are still in the weeds about pre-production or figuring out what is this piece of content going to look like, use that to your advantage and use that quick turnaround to your advantage, where there are definitely topics that are much more relevant right now in the public mindset. You’ll be able to be more topical and ride those trends, and create content that is of the moment and is going to speak to people and what their concerns are right now, rather than creating something that’s more general and generic that might not be as targeted toward where the public sentiment is right now. It’s kind of a double-edged sword there.
As far as release strategy is concerned, this is a great place where Google SEO and Google Trends can really tell you what is the precise time to dive down into your ad spends or your content releases. In general, if you’re looking for your product to be the go-to product come Black Friday, what you see is about two weeks out, two-and-a-half weeks out from Black Friday people are really starting to ramp up their searches for the products that they’re going to be looking to purchase on that day. Different sales that might be going on, different coupon codes, things like that. They’re making those purchasing decisions and those shopping lists about two weeks prior to the big event. That’s true with most major search trends. If Halloween is peaking the last week of October, you scroll back about two weeks and that’s when you start to see searches for it really start to ramp up. If you can be one of the first comers into that wave of searchability, that’s going to help propel your video content. It gives it a first-mover advantage, in it gives it algorithmic weight and algorithmic benefit to you being the first comer when the waves started to really crest for that search term.
If you’re launching your piece of content as you start to see those Google trends charts rise, which tends to be about two week early, two weeks before it hits the peak, that’s your optimum time to start your campaign. The last thing I would say about timing is a lot of brands will have that one asset that they’re launching in time for the holiday’s and everything is dedicated to that one piece of content, what we would instead recommend, and this is especially true for YouTube, but it’s becoming more and more true for Facebook and other video platforms as well, all of their algorithms are favoring pieces of content that get people to watch longer. On Facebook, it’s stuff that prompts more dwell time. With Facebook Watch, it’s becoming more about watch minutes. YouTube is very much about retention time and watch minutes.
If you can, create multiple pieces of content that funnel into each other and drive an extended watch session. A great example of this would be during the Super Bowl where I believe it was 54 Lumber did a multi-part series where they’re like, “Here’s our main asset, but here’s part two of it, and here’s the conclusion of the story, that you can then filter through on a second video.” Now, all of a sudden, what they’ve done is create a multi-video watch series which is prompting viewers to engage with that piece of content for a longer period of time. As a result, you’re going to get more organic traffic, you’re going to get more suggested placement, higher search placement, because you’re optimizing your piece of content for the metrics that these platforms are optimizing for.
If you can, break up one piece of content into a multi-video story arc, or something that has multiple endings, or different pathways through engaging with that piece of content. Say it’s a Christmas ad, and you leave the choice at the end of video, “Hey, which present do you want to open? The one on the left or the one on the right?” each of those can branch off into their own separate video, at which point now, as a viewer, you’ve created not only an engaging piece of content because you’re prompting the user to engage with it, but you’ve also created something like a choose-your-own-adventure that the audience will want to re-watch over and over again to see all the different endings or possible outcomes or different pathways that they couldn’t have explored. But in the process what you’ve done is not only create a strong marketing asset for yourself, but you’ve created something that is attuned to the way that YouTube and these video platforms want people to watch, which is over and over, repeated times following these different kind of watch journeys, which in turn is going to get you a lot more viewership down the line. Those platforms will organically surface those videos higher.
What platforms are the most important when targeting holiday shoppers? Is it all about Facebook and YouTube?
The question there that I think you have to ask is, “Who is your target audience?” If you are looking for a general, kind of like mother, primary shoppers, older individuals, the parents of a family, then Facebook is definitely going to be the way to go. Facebook is definitely the older platform, but it’s also the much more casual platform. Making sure that your piece of content stands out quickly in the sea of videos and posts that are being delivered on a minute-by-minute basis is essential.
If you’re targeting younger viewers, or if you’re targeting the millennial age, then YouTube is the way to go. If you are a beauty brand, if you are a video game brand, if you are a toy brand, things like that, then YouTube is the place to go to because that’s where those younger viewers exist. That’s where they’re going to be exposed to your products. That’s where you’re going to be able to generate hype and get those people, those kids, asking their parents for X, Y, and Z. That’s where you’re going to get that name recognition.
The interesting thing, too, is the YouTube ecosystem, and I think this is where a lot of brands miss the mark. The YouTube ecosystem is very much a closed entity unto itself. The culture of YouTube is very specific to YouTube, and those viewers a lot of times aren’t engaging with content on other platforms. They might have an Instagram account or a Snapchat account—Snapchat is becoming less and less relevant in these conversations—but the YouTube system is very much a closed entity. If you are looking for those younger and those millennial audiences who are the cord-cutters, that’s the place that you’re going to want to target. Don’t assume that if you’re only doing stuff on YouTube, you don’t also have to do it in other places if you’re looking for a wider reach.
I would say places that you definitely can ignore—I mentioned it earlier, but there was a big push over the last couple of years in terms of Snapchat. Snapchat is no longer a relevant conversation. Instagram, it’s a platform that right now video is finding a place, but the actual conversion rates that we see and the conversion rates of influencer campaigns that we’ve seen the date behind haven’t been translating yet from Instagram. I think if you give it another year and we have this conversation next year, Instagram will be a place that we definitely recommend for advertiser to integrate their stories, work with influencer campaigns, design a custom campaign around that’s going to be compelling. As far as this year, with people still adjusting to the new ways to engage with that platform and all the new tools that are available, the conversion rates just haven’t hit it yet. I think right now, if you have a limited budget to spend, really define who you’re looking to target, and you can’t go wrong with a combined Facebook-YouTube approach.