"Authentic, helpful video content is becoming the advertising 2.0"
Martina Dalla Vecchia and Christian Mossner, an increasing number of promotional videos circulating the media are being viewed an unbelievable number of times. A good example is the Jedi Knight advert by Volkswagen. The Force has now been viewed almost 60 million times on YouTube. This is every advertiser's dream. Of course, it's a very well-made ad. And yet, what made it that successful?
Martina Dalla Vecchia: We love stories! Even more when they feature the 'little man' as the hero. This video has a high aww factor and is particularly appealing to parents. In addition to this, the video was also broadcast in the USA at absolute prime time during the Super Bowl (championship game of the NFL, the professional American football league – ed.). The entire nation watches the game and most people don't move from the TV during breaks so as not to miss the start. And exactly at this point, a really sweet video appears that so appeals to a dad's heart. It's simply perfect! So it's not just about a brilliant video, it's also about being promoted at the right time and on the right channel.
Christian Mossner: Videos that get many hits online aren't in line with classic advertising concepts. They are built on an exciting story with powerful images and sometimes music, and they often have quite an amateur feel that is used very deliberately. Online consumers love videos that haven't been made by professionals. Julia Graf (Miss Chevious) from Bern is a perfect example with her 140 million hits. The way she produces her make-up videos is both quick-fire and cavalier. And at the same time she comes across as everyone's favourite 'girl next door'. This is extremely well received by the online community.
How significant are videos for advertising nowadays?
CM: The word 'television' contains, of course, the word 'vision'. There are an unbelievable number of ways to use videos. Classic promotional videos, however, don't work online because the consumer immediately loses interest and gets distracted by something else. Promotional videos are being superseded by 'how-to videos', where online videos show company representatives or consumers explaining the benefits and applications of a product. The consumer becomes quickly and thoroughly acquainted with the product. This creates new standards: companies that are hard to find online and don't offer user videos are quickly out of the game. We will see a profound change in this area over the next few years.
What is the trend for the coming years?
MDV: Videos will be used in an even more targeted way and will be more personalised. Advertisers will look to powerful images, ultra-short clips or videos, depending on the channel. The focus on an unforgettable start to a video is also likely to be intensified. The point is to get viewers so enthralled during the first five seconds that they carry on viewing – ideally right to the end.
CM: The trend is moving from written documents to multisensory full-video communication. Videos are becoming a completely commonplace medium, whether it's via live streaming or from downloads. To hold your ground in a naturally in front of a camera is now almost completely commonplace, which makes the idea of the person and what they represent making the difference even more powerful.
Nowadays we have a plethora of advertising channels. These shouldn't be seen as individual entities if you have a product to promote, but should be viewed as an integrated whole. What is the best way to do this?
MDV: By seeing it from the customer's perspective! What channels are our customers using and what stimuli do they need in each case? Customers who use Pinterest, for example, respond to visual stimuli and can be inspired by thematic worlds that include our product. On YouTube, 'how-to tutorials' can appeal to customers, and so on – the important factors are strategy, targets and a concept. Targets define the focus and should be measurable, while the concept describes how something will be implemented on different channels.
CM: Advertising channels have to be properly promoted. What's needed is a central theme, a story. The choice of medium should be aimed at the target customers. What's more, the core message should be editorially and promotionally interwoven. Campaigns can only be turned into high-intensity reality when different media are well matched, production can be automated and clearly defined monitoring is in place. The higher the promotional intensity and the better the message, the sooner a sufficient number of people will find the promoted target media.
Volkswagen is a huge company with ample means. Can you name some examples of successful campaigns by small (Swiss) enterprises that have caused a stir?
CM: A really great example is the Zurich transport authority (VBZ). They recruit staff using cross-media videos. These show bosses introducing themselves and explaining what they are looking for in a potential candidate. The Sauber F1 team, an SME from the Zürcher Oberland, are also well off the ground. They use their own staff to produce attractive videos for their YouTube channel, which is very well positioned with more than 5 million views. A third example is Mr Fischer from Fischer Bettwaren, who for many years has been enjoying great success with his video story. He is now even being imitated by other companies.
What makes these campaigns so successful?
MDV: Success factors can't be defined in a general sense. It depends on the effect on the target group bracket. And this can be quite small if you want to appeal to a very specific clientèle and not a huge number of users. As a basic principle, it's important for a video to be the right length, with good image and sound quality. For it to go viral, it needs either something sensational, something funny or something emotionally moving.
Interview: Nathalie Baumann