Think Like a Broadcaster

Our experience of how brands use video and our research into how viewers consume video has led us to craft six key areas of consideration when planning a broadcasting strategy.

06.01.16 | Opinion

By Erika Shorter

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Think Like a Broadcaster.

“Cisco predicts that 69% of Internet traffic will be video by 2017 and 80% by 2019. The statistics are emblematic of the debate  around the significance of video content for brands currently, and more importantly, in the future. At Uniform, we want our clients to treat their relationship with their consumers the way we treat our relationship with them: with their eye on the journey. So when we say ‘think like a broadcaster’, we mean consider your brand a channel: something people can tune into, trust and shape their perception of a brand around.”

Laurie Jones, Creative Director, Uniform

We’re about to enter the first year since its invention that television viewing will decline. Everyone agrees: 2016 is without question the year of video. While the rise of video content is something you can quantify and analyse, it isn’t all about statistics. It’s about tracing these results back to the root: how we live our lives today. Video is easy to absorb and digest. It’s fast. Multisensory. Accessible. It takes many forms and lengths. It lends itself well to technological advancements. It’s where the world is headed. Our experience of how brands use video and our research into how viewers consume video has led us to craft six key areas of consideration when planning a broadcasting strategy.

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1. Know your audience, and never underestimate them.

Your viewers are a dynamic group of individuals. They are part of networks and communities - both physical and online - and are subject to complex social, economic and political forces impossible to predict with complete accuracy. It’s up to brands to be open minded, to change with viewers, guiding where they can and being guided where they can’t.

Viewers are depicted as passive, often in the context of watching television. As we move away from television viewing, this assumption must die. They are not ill informed, or docile. They are not there to be manipulated or condescended to. Reducing them to a ‘demographic’ is reductive, and doesn’t reflect our co-creative, people-centric new pull economy. Your viewers can be your greatest ally or your most powerful enemy. Ad blocking software is the perfect example of how working for and with viewers to give them the most entertaining, inspiring or emotional experience possible is vital.

We’re not convinced by brands that publish video content that makes assumptions based on age, gender or social status without any evidence. Or when brands do have evidence, but treat that evidence as static. Viewers are autonomous beings who grow, learn, change their minds and have unpredictable moods; documentation of their behavior can quickly become outdated. The answer to this temperamental landscape is simple. It’s about joining the conversation, and embedding flexibility into your video content plan from the start. Being a part of the conversations your viewers are having will allow you to influence, educate and inspire each other.

Practicalities such as social and economic factors can also provide opportunities for brands to optimise their video content broadcasting. Consider the lack of affordable housing in inner city London as an example. This social problem leads to longer commute times, which means more time on mobile devices. According to IAB, 58% of mobile users watch short videos on their smartphones daily. Netflix is even throwing its hat into the mobile video ring by preparing to introduce short clips, or ‘chunked’ content specifically aimed at commuters. Whether in-stream video ads, interstitial video ads or in-banner/native video ads, there is something broadcasting brands can do that fits with campaign goals. Ask yourself: how can you tailor your content to the commuter generation? How well do your videos suit the average tube journey? Are you publishing at relevant times for your viewers?

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2. Don’t tell a story, tell YOUR story.

We all know how effective a carefully constructed narrative can be. The medium of video has the ability to harness storytelling to not only follow classic arcs, but also leap the boundaries of the written word, offering up experiences that transcend language. Video - of any length - can be fantastical, relatable, funny or sad. There can be heroes, villains and morals, and it can crescendo to a powerful call to action.

The scope for creativity here is vast, but brands must be careful to plan their storytelling strategy with authenticity in mind. What conversations can you be part of? What does your brand have the authority to talk about? What do you care about?

Sometimes you aren’t the best voice to tell your story. Find who is, and work alongside them for a richer, more authentic and emotive message. We’re proud to be working with Medela, a brand that cares about joining in conversations around breastfeeding all over the world. Medela was looking to connect with mums, and while their research and excellent reputation in their field certainly invites them to the conversation, they knew they weren’t who mums wanted to hear from most.

Some brands claim not to see the value in developing a quality online video content strategy as they do not feel their products and services are in a position to create entertaining or useful videos pertinent to their brand. We couldn’t disagree more. If your brand didn’t have something to say - a message consumers are interested in - you wouldn’t exist. While it’s important to know what you can own, don’t let this pigeonhole you. Shake off the mindset you need to be an absolute authority on something: that’s a lot of pressure. If there’s one thing to take from millennial trend research, it’s that up and coming generations shy away from people telling them what to do, what to think, what to be.

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3. Trust the experts. (Hint: it’s not you.)

Interestingly, what you can credibly talk about can change. Red Bull succeeded in entering a hugely popular video content niche: extreme sports. How did they become an authority on something with only tenuous links to their product? Collaboration. By joining forces with athletes and extreme sports videographers, their content reached established platforms and tapped into masses of new viewers.

It’s an obvious fact that the best - if not only - way to get people watching your content is to provide content people want to watch. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily. Collaborations with creative agencies experienced in helping brands craft considered video content strategies and calendars is the clearest first step. You may have the facilities to create all the video content you need, tailored to the specific platforms you want to publish on, but this still doesn’t mean it’s best to go it alone. Working with creative agencies that can help you plan, deliver, assess and react to your video content strategy is a key to engagement and growth.

Finding a door into a currently successful platform is much quicker and more effective than making one from scratch. Brands need to be open minded to the 16 year old vlogger, The Great British Bake Off winner and the accidental YouTube star. A departure from brand-led advertising will add authenticity to your campaign. Sometimes the key is letting go, stepping back and letting someone else be the voice of your brand. What would working with a YouTube star look like for you? Who is it that your viewers are listening to already? And how can you best partner with them?

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4. You want more than money, and that’s something to be proud of.

Whether it’s lasting relationships with your audience or a voice in a certain sector, the most powerful brands today are about more than money. We’re thrilled to be working with a brand like Liverpool’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Not only do we get to listen to world class music, but we also get the privilege of helping them put their mark on a season steeped in very human, very emotional qualities: family, music, laughter, friendship.

So what is it you want for your brand? What mark do you want to make on the world? How do you share and spread the message of what you can give? Anyone with a video content strategy is interested in reach, but you need to pick apart what ‘reach’ means, and why it’s valuable. If you consider ‘reach’ simply a number, such as the ‘views’ tally at the bottom of a Facebook video, you may be missing the point. Brands need to care more about the relationship they have with their viewers. Facebook is an example of why ‘views’ can be a misleading statistic to focus on as a marker of success: each view on Facebook is clocked by 3 seconds of play - automatic play. All a user needs to do is stay on the same screen for long enough, and a ‘view’ is tallied. Has it annoyed them? How many would have pressed play if the choice had been theirs? You simply don’t know. Shares on the other hand, tell you that not only has someone enjoyed your video, but so much so they want their peers to see it as well. They chose your video to be a reflection of their taste - and there is no higher marker compliment.

Maybe what you’re looking for is to get word out about who you are, and what your brand stands for. We used video to raise awareness of our people, our studio and a charity we support: Movember. Our video helped anyone watching understand what we’re all about. It was enjoyable to make, charitable, funny, and raised awareness without selling anything but good will.

Interestingly, branded videos do not put viewers off. Even though brands have obvious agendas, it doesn’t make the viewer suspicious or jaded. They only seem to care about whether or not they will be entertained, inspired or educated. Brands that value shares and conversations as instrumental in feeding back into their brand’s worth will truly fit into the age of the co-sumer.

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5. Ride trend shotgun and experiment - constantly.

Digital trends are notoriously fickle. They develop and evolve constantly. You may never be able to predict when a new technology or platform will come along and render where you’re broadcasting obsolete. When shifting advertising funding to video content strategy, production and broadcasting - as every savvy brand is currently scrambling to do - the translatability and adaptability of the content to different mediums is a crucial consideration. Staying at the cutting edge of video trends and participating in emergent platforms will help you gauge what’s working for you, what isn’t, and what’s on the horizon.

But don’t over think yourself into a state of paralysis. Experimentation will help you understand the habits and behaviours of your viewers. From short, snackable mobile bites to long-form ads that encourage viewer ‘choose your own adventure’ style participation, or even tandem social media interaction, broadcasting options are numerous, and welcome your own creativity and innovation. There is no “solution” for video. Your audience is unique, and it’s up to you and your collaborators to discover which form works best, when it’s most effective, and where it should be seen. This could mean anything from live stream viewer-curated content clips using technology like Periscope, to episodic content broadcast on branded YouTube channels and Facebook brand Pages.

Remember that although new video broadcasting platforms may seem futuristic, they are rooted in the human. Consider 360 degree video rediscovering empathy by using VR technology to place the viewer in the middle of scenes they may otherwise only imagine. What could that mean to charities? We’re using 360 degree video with Almacantar, a property investment and development group in Central London, to animate and vivify the property and place sector. Here, the use of 360 degree video allows for a visceral experience of the property clients may be looking to purchase remotely. What could such innovative, cutting edge video technology do for your brand?

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6. Video is a journey.

What’s your relationship with video? It is a handful of awkward dates smattered randomly throughout the year, or something stronger, more committed? Don’t play catch up. Your content plan can and should be a steady current. Words like ‘strategy’ ‘calendar’ and ‘roadmap’ sound committing and intimidating, because, well, they are. Take comfort in the fact that video has been a proven format for over 100 years. We know it’s not going anywhere. It’s intelligent, sophisticated, and opens up language and the world. If you haven’t forayed into video, ask yourself why. Is it because everyone else is doing it so well already that you feel jumping in would leave you treading water rather than winning the race? Is it a reluctance to put your marketing budget at risk?

Some brands build up viewer relationships with video ambassadors or ‘characters’ over time; using the same people meansviewers can learn more about them progressively, and feel closer with each engagement. Foster’s latest campaign, Helluva Tour, follows four people selected from their audience. Across social media clips and short videos on the brand’s own website, viewers can follow the ‘winners’ as they try to make their way from the UK to Australia by bus. Brief TV ad spots direct viewers to where they can watch the videos in full. These funny, relatable clips are all the more powerful as the ‘stars’ are normal. They’re anyone and everyone who drinks Foster’s. 

Look to Samba for an example of a brand at the beginning of their broadcasting journey. Samba kicked off with a short video on grassroots football. ‘What’s Your Goal?’ allowed them to join the conversations they care about. They successfully launched a video strategy that wasn’t prescriptive or formulaic, but reactive, scalable and human.

The transition into a video content strategy should not feel like a terrifying gamble, rather an informed and supported choice to move in the direction your viewers are headed. Towards embracing the inevitable. We’re there already and understand the when, how, where and who of video content broadcasting.

So what does this mean for your brand? It means it’s time to invest in your future. Time to commit to a video strategy that will communicate what you do best to the exact people you want to be doing it for. The right broadcasting strategy will galvanise your message, and - imbued with humour, intellect and inspiration - deeply impact viewers.

At Uniform, we’re driven by a restless curiosity and a desire to innovate. We use a mix of skills and instinct to craft beautifully unexpected ideas and apply a rigorous process to help brands find the right video journey for them. Our pillars of video broadcasting success are to uncover, predict, create and lead. We think and work holistically, delivering solutions perfectly tailored to both where you are now and your biggest aspirations. Our film team is integral in delivering the powerful, emotive branding we’re most excited by.

 

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