Sep 05

In the digital marketing landscape and within a content marketing context, there has been an ongoing dialogue regarding user generated content (UGC) versus professionally produced material or branded content.

Is one better than the other or should they even be compared?

This topic has been analysed from a textual point of view using product reviews, reader comments, and customer testimonials as an example. This UGC content is often posted on online platforms such as websites and blogs, the latter of which could also be argued to be a form of editorial content which we will address later (Source: RankPop). UGC has also become an interesting topic to discuss from a graphical content point of view with the emergence of Instagram and the popularity of Facebook and Pinterest platforms. However, perhaps the most popular example of UGC is where video content is concerned, and where YouTube is the platform most often used. Essentially, UGC can be defined as any “material your organisation has not commissioned and paid for” which brings home the point about blogs mentioned above as nearly every brand or business has a blog (Source: onlinejournalismblog.com). UGC could also be looked at in an earned media context discussed in past posts, as it is the conversation by consumers that happens around the brand. It has been argued that UGC provides depth and increases confidence in a brand or product from a consumer point of view, so it’s no wonder why it’s a popular form of content integrated into any brand strategy (Source: RankPop).

A recent study from comScore aimed to answer the question posed above, which has become a critical conversation for today’s digital advertisers: ‘How do user-generated videos complement professionally-produced content, if at all?’ The study compared professionally-produced content and user-generated product videos and actually concluded the two forms of content work better together than on their own. According to Frank Findley, Vice President, Research and Development at comScore: “While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.” In the study, professionally-produced content combined with UGC product videos resulted in significantly higher lifts when used together versus separately. While professional content on its own resulted in a higher percentage of respondents understanding the importance of the brand message, UGC was more successful at producing emotional intensity and ease of relating to the consumer (Source: comScore).

A good example of a brand incorporating both professional content and UCG in their latest campaign efforts is Samsung. With various advertising campaigns for the Olympic Games, the messaging centered around one key concept which was how technology today allows everyone to be involved in the event in various ways (Source: Campaign Live). Instead of just talking about it, they created action by using brand ambassadors like David Beckham and Jamie Oliver who encouraged everyday users or bloggers rather, to use technology to capture the spirit of the games in London with the Global Blogger initiative. As a result Samsung was acknowledged as receiving “the gold medal” in terms of biggest uplift in online visits for an Olympic Sponsor (Source: The Wall). For more information on Preview Networks’ involvement with Samsung and MSN, please contact Charles Delamain in our London office.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

May 30

Out of the Box Content Marketing

By Heather Timmerman Digital Media Trends Comments Off

To see this branded content marketing piece by GoPayment, click on the image.

A theme of several recent articles regarding how to create a great content marketing strategy all have one thing in common. They center around using digital platforms like social media to incorporate brand marketing initiatives utilizing video content to create engagement, all of which require both creativity and risk. The overall message to executives and online marketers via multiple sources, is to not be afraid to try something new. A recent ReelSEO Tweet from a post written over a year ago still had some very valuable information worth sharing. The main points were:

  1. Educate Yourself
  2. Embrace Online Video and Social Media Marketing
  3. Commit Budget to Promote Video and Social Media Initiatives
  4. Develop Creative that is Relevant and Shareable
  5. Establish Clear Expectations and Goals – Learn to Predict ROI
  6. Integrate Video and Social Media into Traditional Marketing Initiatives
  7. Allow and Encourage Experimentation
  8. Be Responsive
  9. Don’t Play Follow the Leader
  10. Don’t Assume Video and Social are B2C Only
  11. Be Prepared to Fall on Your Butt Now and Then

All of the points above are important but perhaps the one that is needed to get the creative juices flowing is allowing and encouraging experimentation. This reminds me of the infamous 20% rule which Google applies internally in order to keep innovation alive and well within the organization.  The philosophy is simple. One day a week engineers are allowed to work on a project that isn’t necessarily related to their job descriptions. The idea being that creativity and innovation can’t be forced. Only by loosening the reigns and encouraging freedom of thought can new ideas come to the surface.

Experimenting with video can be daunting, especially for those who haven’t the faintest clue how to get started. That’s where the network and education comes in, which another post labeled ‘Why CMOs Need to Experiment‘ indicates is highly relevant (Source: Digiday). Attending conferences, reading up on the topic, reaching out to colleagues and most importantly securing some budget to play with is critical to get started. According to Steven Cook, the hunt for ROI in social is besides the point. Brands that worry about this too much don’t get social, which is a risky route to take. If you need some reasons why social is here to stay, check out this previous Preview post.

Not assuming that video and social is only for B2C companies is another good piece of advice mentioned in the first article above. GoPayment, a B2B mobile payment service recently released a series of great content marketing videos about their clients (Source: ReelSEO). The focus of the video series was centered around their customer’s stories and how the use of pop-up store initiatives in various cities in the US allowed them to reach their audience and provide a convenient service. This in the end created engaging and entertaining content, while subtly allowing GoPayment’s brand and value proposition to come through. The moral of the story and message of this blog? Never underestimate the power of creativity and collaboration.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

May 10

To see this branded content by Georg Jensen, click on the image.

Content marketing can take on many forms. In terms of informative content this can include blogs, whitepapers, newsletters, websites and emails to get whatever message a brand would like to get across. However, these mechanisms are often one-sided and push-related, with the exception of blogs or emails that can allow comments and/or dialogue due to their digital nature. Content marketing initiatives can support the brand obviously or subtly, both are relevant given the situation. The main goal of a whitepaper for example is to educate, share knowledge or data that has been scientifically validated in its research method. Therefore, it is possible for the brand to subtly stand by the data or analysis they helped create, which brands them as a knowledge expert in their particular industry.

Advertising in both print or online form however, is often an obvious content branding initiative. It has to be in order to get any sort of ROI due to the cost and limited space. Whether or not that is intrusive to the end consumer depends on how the message is delivered and their particular perception of branding or advertising. Advertising can be either educational or entertaining but there is very little you can do with text and a static image.  However, online video is this convergence of information and entertainment that can be either subtle or obvious and captivates the audience in a way text or graphics simply cannot.  According to The Motion Effect Theory, human beings have an inherent preference for moving objects (Sundar and Kalyanaraman 2004) which is one reason why TV has been so popular for so long.

Not every company has the budget required for TV advertising, which makes online video such a popular form of content marketing, and the numbers are beginning to show. Last year 52% of North American companies used video in their content marketing initiatives, compared to 2009 data when that number was only 37% (Source: ReelSEO, 2012). Online video not only engages the audience, but it also encourages them to share which brings us back to traditional word of mouth initiatives, done in a digital age via social networks.

Social media is one of the many ways in which to deliver content marketing messages and initiatives that creates a dialogue and interaction with the audience which is often better than any one-way push mechanism. However, only 49% of marketers have social media fully integrated into their marketing strategies (Source: mashable.com, 2012). The message to traditionalists by those digital marketers successfully using this new form of content marketing, is to embrace the interactivity and not shy away from the engagement of the audience. Something not only social media channels, but online video has the capability to do through branded content initiatives. For more information, check out this interview and this example. For inspiration, click on the image above.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

Apr 18

The BRAVES  is the first award show recognizing and rewarding the role brands play in online video advertising and content development. Brands are not alone in the creative development process as agencies and technical platforms help make the magic happen, but the BRAVES recognize that none of it would be possible without quality branded content. Whether the content is entertaining for the audience, artfully shot, or brilliantly executed comes down to how many creative minds were involved in the process and that is where partnerships become particularly important.

Relevant partnerships play an important role in the video ecosystem which is becoming larger and more complex by the minute. However, stripped down the the basics you could perhaps break it into three categories. Or, that’s at least the way the BRAVES sees it when it comes to nominating brands. The Campaign BRAVES recognize creative excellence of brands and agencies in the use of video in advertising campaigns. The Content BRAVES specifically recognize the role brands have played in branded video content from the beginning. And finally, the Technical BRAVES recognize the rapid growth and reach of video which has been enabled by hosting, monetization, analytics and distribution services, like Preview Networks.

Which is why we are proud to announce our Technical sponsorship in this year’s BRAVES awards and encourage all brands, agencies, and technical hero’s to nominate their video campaign, content, or service that has enabled or pushed the video industry to the next level. This is a space that is only going to get more interesting and it couldn’t happen without all the relevant players. Managed by the same company that hosts The Festival of Media each year C Squared, makes this event another soon to be sought after awards show to be involved in for the video industry. So enter your campaign, content or technical video service today!  Some important dates to keep in mind are below, and be sure to watch the promotional video for more information.  We hope to see you there!

  • Final deadline for entries: 25 May 2010
  • Shortlist announcement: 21 June 2012
  • Awards ceremony: 11 July 2012

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a content marketing platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

Mar 29

The Festival of Media held its first event in 2007 and quickly became one of the best events to attend if you are a brand, agency, or media company, and have an advertising, marketing, or content creation focus. Events are held three times a year in locations conveniently available depending on your continent, managed by the international events company C Squared. The global event has been in past locations such as Venice, Italy and Montreux, Switzerland with the Latin America and Asia events held in locations such as Miami and Singapore.  The event has doubled in size since 2007 with the 2011 event including more than 700 registered delegates bringing together people from over 40 countries. Major brands are always in attendance and past presentations include insights spanning various industries from companies like: AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Coca Cola, Kraft, L’Oreal, Nestlé, Nike, Phillips, and Unilever, and from global agencies such as: Omnicom, Publicis, and WPP. Media companies in regular attendance include: AOL, Facebook, Fox, Google, News Corp, and Twitter including marketing measurement companies like comScore, who will also be in attendance at this year’s global event.

The common theme bringing all of these brands, agencies, and medias together is not only how to evolve with the changing media landscape and latest digital marketing strategies, but to also celebrate great advertising and well executed campaigns. As such, the event also includes an awards ceremony and gala event where campaigns are celebrated by peers and recognized for creative and innovative work, constantly pushing the industry forward. As a proud sponsor of the Braves Awards which is celebrating the best in brand video and also managed by C Squared,  we are privileged to be in attendance at this year’s #FOMG12 event which is returning to the location of Montreux, Switzerland and held on April 15-17th. To find out more information about the event and buy your ticket, check out The Festival of Media 2012 event site.  Even if you are unable to attend the global event, past presentations are available on their YouTube Channel allowing you to get inspired and stay up to date on the latest in global marketing communication.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

Mar 22

The online marketing blogosphere and whitepaper index is always filled with interesting video data and research. It’s hard to determine whether that is due to the increase of content marketing strategies or because of the increasing trend and usage of video. Either way, both are relevant to what we try to accomplish each week with the Preview blog post. Report useful data online marketers can easily understand to help them be more efficient with their brand’s most valuable tool, its digital assets. Digital assets include graphics and video and in some cases also text, as the above are all ways to market content. Image courtesy of adamdince.com

However, the usage of video has been noted in research and past blogs as the most effective way to engage your audience, and the numbers are also beginning to show in practice. According to a Q4 2011 report by the Web Video Marketing Council, marketing professionals are increasingly using video in their online marketing strategies where websites and email marketing are the predominant channels. This research included 272 respondents in a variety of industries and company sizes, and shows an 11% increase in video usage in 2011 with 81% of marketers using online video compared to 70% in 2010. This confirms the trend in video usage and digs deeper into the channels used.

  • 67% have posted online video to owned media such as company websites
  • 61% have posted online video to earned media such as social networks
  • 52% of marketing professionals have used video in email marketing initiatives

Email marketing was emphasized in this report as the channel by which video has made a positive impact with 88% of marketers. Additional impressions on the effectiveness of video are such that 76% of marketers believe that video increases click through rates and 72% believe consumers are more likely to purchase or convert into sales by using video. This also confirms past research, particularly in regards to conversion rates. “Online video is becoming a first stop for many customers. It is akin to what the Web page was a decade ago, something that can give early adopters an edge over competitors. It gives them a channel to talk directly to customers in ways previously accessible only to large companies that could afford TV advertisements.” – The New York Times

Once convinced of the effectiveness of video, where to start? Producing quality content is the first step. A past blog post entitled A New Way to Approach Online Video Production gives some ideas on where to begin and an article in the New York Times gives practical tips on how to incorporate video into online marketing strategies in a cost effective way. Once content has been developed, utilizing a content marketing platform like brandcast to manage all digital assets in one place with the ability to externally publish to the appropriate channels, allows marketers not only to be efficient but in control of their online marketing strategies.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

Jan 26

Create Your Brand-Owned TV Channel

By Heather Timmerman Digital Media Trends Comments Off

One of the multiple video predictions of 2012 was an increase in branded-content production, and early research into 2012 has proven that to be true. Many retailers and major brands are moving beyond publishing videos on websites and media outlets to creating their brand-owned TV channels online. This move is allowing these brands to increase consumer engagement, track behaviour and ultimately increase online sales (Source: MarketingWeek).

Image courtesy of PinkTV

Case examples from brands such as Thomas Pink, Marks & Spencer, LookFantastic, and BrandAlley talk about their experiences with this form of online brand building in a recent article by Marketing Week. Many brands begin by posting videos on YouTube or brand websites and eventually evolve into an online TV channel platform as a testing playground. The results have included consumers spending longer amounts of time on the online TV channel, looking at three times as many products compared to non-viewers.

Instructional  or ‘how to’ videos seem to be the most popular form of online TV content, particularly for the fashion or beauty brands mentioned above. For example, a popular strategy for Thomas Pink has been to post videos on how to tie a bow tie or Windsor knot, building their brand equity and expertise online. Brands such as BrandAlley have identified that this form of content platform attracts a younger audience which has allowed them to cater different content to their male and female viewers.

With these mass customisation strategies, an instructional tool-set for how to create engaging product videos is necessary. Luckily due to the popularity of online video, these best practice guides are beginning to pop up all over the internet. Below are a couple for your reference. In addition, check out a previous post describing how product videos improve consumer decision accuracy.

Product Video Guides:

How-to Product Video Examples from 5 E-Commerce Businesses
Product Video Best Practice Guide 2012

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

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