Is this the future of video?
The family farmer triumphed big this week. At a gala held by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, Back to the Start, the Chipotle ad starring a farmer who turns his back on factory farming, won Best Commercial of 2011. The quality of the animation was one factor. But the pitch for sustainable farming may have been just as important. (The Willie Nelson soundtrack didn’t hurt either.) “The fact that the ad won proved you can sell and have a social message,” Matt Miller, CEO of AICP, told Matt Lauer on the Today Show. “It’s where advertising is going.”
Is it? I wasn’t on the gala circuit this week but for another take I went to a gathering at the Chromium Forum called The Future of Online Video. The panelists – all seasoned video producers – quickly determined that “online video” is an anachronism because “everything” is online these days. They then proceeded to explore new trends in video advertising in a discussion more free-wheeling than academic.
Trends, a wish list, and how young people are changing the game
These days even ads are being crowdsourced. One of the meeting’s sponsors, Poptent, founded in 2007, calls itself the world’s largest video production house thanks to ties with thousands of producers. Here’s how its crowdsourcing model works: Video producers bid for advertising jobs by putting together broadcast-ready videos. The client then buys a favorite, paying much less than for an agency-driven ad. “This works because it’s no longer just a few people who have their hands on video production tools,” says John Zaterka, Major Account Executive at Poptent. “Cameras used to be $100k and now they’re $5k.” Sounds like a deal, for clients anyway, which include Dole, Cholula Hot Sauce, and Ravenswood Wine.
What companies want. They want “Charlie bit my finger” virility. That 59 second clip, thrown up by a bemused dad on a random afternoon in 2007, has generated 45M views, including various auto-tuned versions. It has also made tons of money with no marketing effort – and created headaches for video marketers everywhere. “Companies think you can just go out and do that!” says Jonathan Halperin, a producer and founder of 17 Reasons. You can’t.
One reason video production is cheaper. Young people. “They’re all skilled in technology,” says Halperin. “Since they know the technical part this means they can concentrate on content.” Since it’s no longer an advantage to have technical skills experienced videographers can no longer charge what they used to.
Video doesn’t have to be fancy to succeed. Demonstrating the combined power of get-it-done technology and YouTube was 121Box, another sponsor. One of its clients, Colleen West of EMDR in Action, stood up and told the crowd that a low-budget 3-minute-video had done more to grow her business than almost anything else she has done. Thus far Window into an EMDR Session has drawn 58k hits.
Which is it: Clip culture or long narrative? Probably both. “At work, no one watches anything longer than 3 minutes because you don’t want the boss to discover you’re doing,” says Jennifer Nielsen, marketing director at Tango. Then again, long narrative has a bigger audience than ever. “Look at Downton Abbey – the highest rated PBS show in 20 years,” says Jonathan Halperin. From another panelist, Annaliza Savage, Executive Video Producer for Wired.com: “It just really comes down to how well you tell a story. There’s room for everything.”
Note: Featured in the photo is Andrew Monbouquette, a producer of the upcoming Growing Cities movie and one of our clients. He and his partner Dan Susman demonstrated another trend in video when they artfully wrapped video shorts into an aggressive Kickstarter campaign and easily exceeded their fundraising goals.
-Clare Ellis, Media Chief, Good Food Media Group