Consumers love online video. We know this for a fact, thanks to scores of surveys and Internet user research. Leichtman Research Group Inc. reported 31 percent of online adults view video at home at least weekly, with 10 percent doing so on a daily basis. Compare this to last year's numbers: weekly viewers represented just 25 percent of those surveyed. A younger consumer audience, aged 18 to 34, spends even more time with video; 42 percent report watching it weekly, up from 28 percent last year.
Consumers engage with online video in advertising form, too. The Online Publishers Association last year found 80 percent of consumers surveyed remembered seeing an online video ad, and 31 percent visited an advertiser's site as a result.
If they had to choose, Web users would certainly favor the CGM video content they find on YouTube, Break.com, and Google Video to video ads. Why, then, don't more marketers create video advertising that respects this preference while meeting their own needs? One place to start is with CGM video contests, where consumers are invited to craft videos on a subject matter related to the advertiser for the chance to win a prize.
The Little Penguin, a brand of Australian wine, based its recent video contest on an issue that's paramount to its feathered spokes-creatures: dating and mating (penguins dedicate their lives to it). The Little Penguin Pick-Up Project invites consumers to submit videos depicting great pickup lines in action for a chance to win a trip for two to Australia.
With a more family-oriented theme, Garden State Life Insurance Company is currently asking Internet users to submit videos of their children completing famous proverbs or common sayings in humorous ways (for example, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't...go to the bathroom.") The connection between the contest and the brand lies in the company's dedication to helping families. Read the contest rules and you'll get the hint: "The best part is that this exercise can remind us about the value and importance of loved ones and the need to make sure they are taken care of...After you enter the contest, be sure and visit www.GardenStateLife.com."
For the past two years, Vancouver, Canada, based memelabs, which developed these two video contests, has been offering the technology needed to develop engaging online video ads and contests that promote brand interaction and expand advertiser reach. Memelabs first built contests for its clients before opening up the service to agencies and now promotes them both as a campaign contest or add-on to an existing marketing initiative.
The process is simple: memelabs participates in the strategy phase, laying out contest ideas based on past experience with what works, before coding its contest template for the advertiser. Agencies can control the creative, but memelabs offers creative development services too. Once a contest is up and running, memelabs creates a seeder video that demonstrates to Internet users the type of submissions the advertiser is looking for. The company will send the seeder video to blogs and social sites, as well as to a list of 70,000 consumers who have participated in its contests in the past (many of whom are film students eager to showcase their work).
Once the first few video submissions are received and reviewed, memelabs pushes them live to the advertiser's site (as well as its own), where consumers can view them in the context of the brand and participate by voting for their favorites. Typically contests run for five to eight months, with timing dependent on the advertiser's objectives, and are promoted through existing media buys like banners, print ads, and TV spots, as well as through point-of-purchase placements in-store.
Compare the videos submitted to The Little Penguin's and Garden State Life's with your typical online video ad, which may well be nothing more than a television spot adapted for the Web. Which are consumers more likely to enjoy? Which is more likely to make an impact on such key marketing metrics as brand recognition and recall? Such efforts deliver the exposure and interaction brands seek and appeal to consumers' interest in user-generated video content -- and at a fraction of the cost of a typical online display ad campaign.
If you're as eager to grab a piece of the online video pie as most advertisers, take a closer look at what video contests can offer. Both you and your target audience are bound to benefit from online video that's made to engage.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.