Helping Web videos make an impact

Certain guidelines exist to producing effective online video.

Certain guidelines exist to producing effective online video.

As Web video matures, it's becoming increasingly necessary to develop footage specifically for the medium rather than simply repurposing existing video. Online video provides opportunity to interact with audiences directly - and such work should be created with this in mind.

"[The point of Web video is to] engage an audience rather than convince a third party," says Scott Sklarin, director of production at On the Scene Productions. "You're talking to them, not at them, and you can't shoot one way and hope to repurpose it."

It's important for clients to identify multiple uses of video up front, so they can get everything in one shoot.

"Even if clients aren't thinking about multiple uses, we're thinking about it," Sklarin adds. "When you go into the field, you want to do it different ways at the same time."

He adds that a recent Pew study revealed that 62% of people say their favorite Web videos are professionally produced.

"We're trying to educate clients that video for the Web isn't garage-style," Sklarin says. "Good quality, high-end-produced stuff can still be made to look edgy and viral."

Christiane Arbesu, VP of production at MultiVu, advocates voiced, scripted packages. "Make sure you have enough bandwidth," she explains. "Use high-quality files - 720 x 420 JPEG. Images must be at least 300 dpi. Create graphics in Illustrator rather than shooting them from a camera."

She adds that Web video allows for a lot of creativity and wider, longer shots. She advises putting word frames on the screen for complicated pieces, and notes that hyperlinks are useful. It's also possible to include "lower thirds," such as identification information at the bottom of the screen.

Arbesu also says solid colors work best and that Web video should be shot with a lot of light. It's also wise to refrain from using too much action and pictures within pictures.

"Consider that while [Web] technology has improved, it's still not broadcast quality," says Larry Thomas, COO of Medialink. "[Use] fewer quick cuts."

Arbesu notes that visually driven, easily understandable pieces work best. "It's got to be simple," she says. "You can have someone sit in a chair and do something funny. You can be random. That's the kind of stuff that also gets picked up. There is no formula. Hard Rock Cafe [videos] do well because they're celebrity-driven and for a good cause. Any funky, quirky pieces do well."

But Thomas advises being cautious with quirkiness. "Do not try to force humor into a topic that doesn't warrant it," he says. "We created a video game [for] Cigna Healthcare and HopeLab that was an education tool for kids with cancer. [That] topic wouldn't benefit from quirky. Stick to your corporate culture. Don't try to be something you're not.

"The best way to get a feel for how your brand is going to play online," he adds, "is think out messaging, realize you don't have complete control, create content, get it out there, and interact with your audience."

Web video can range from 30 seconds to three minutes or more. "We're seeing length decrease," Thomas says. "It's closer to 30 to 60 seconds now. Videos are getting shorter because people are realizing video is a marketing vehicle leading to action. It's a teaser to [raise] interest, convey a certain amount of information, and motivate action."

Arbesu doesn't recommend more than three minutes unless the video is celebrity-driven, while Doug Simon, CEO and president of DS Simon Productions, believes interest level should determine length.

"If it's a health piece about an illness that affects children, parents have almost limitless interest," he says. "[In this case], 'don't make it more than 30 seconds' is a silly rule. Match content to both the interest level of viewers and brand positioning. Make videos consistent with the feel of your brand."

Most MultiVu clients include a call to action in Web videos. "A call to action is a great way to [interact] and a chance to fine tune who you're targeting," Arbesu says.

Some type of viewer feedback mechanism should also be considered for most videos.

"It can be controlled or wide open," notes Simon. "You may want reviews built in before anything gets posted. You may only allow feedback [via] e-mail."

Technique tips

Engage audiences and include feedback mechanisms

Let audience interest level determine length

Consider multiple uses and try to get all footage at once

Make videos inconsistent with brand positioning

Use low-quality images or too much action

Post videos without sufficient bandwidth

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