From analytics to authentic content, David Mendels, CEO at Brightcove, discusses the state of video marketing – and what we can learn in this field from Madonna
How do you see new technology impacting on video marketing tactics, and what are the implications for brands?
First, let me take a step back. Video may sound like old news but it’s only just coming into its own as a marketing tool. Remember, video has really only been on the net since 2003, which is when it was added to Flash and you could play it in a webpage without downloading a player.
Back then most brands just wanted to put their TV commercials on the homepage. They knew video was good because they’d had 70 years of buying TV ads. But they had no strategy for video on the web and there was no science behind it. That’s really changed in the last four or five years, which means brands can get the right content to the right person at the right point in the buying cycle.
Often buyers don’t talk to salespeople until the end of that cycle. Content, of course, is how you influence buyers, but in the past content marketing systems didn’t have a concept of video. This was something that really changed the way we think at Brightcove, because you don’t want video in a separate silo. You want it integrated with your automation tools. We’re spending a lot more time now building tools that aren’t just about video, but which use video to generate awareness using SEO and which increase conversions with calls to action.
That’s a huge change. We’re seeing customers going from using a bit of video here and there to really thinking about it as part of a sophisticated strategy. You get more time on site, higher conversion rates. If you’re in ecommerce you get a lower returns rate. This is a really big trend. Online video is coming together with automation, which means people can really change the way they do marketing.
Are there any other new developments in this field which you see as particularly significant?
There are certainly areas where media and marketing are coming together in interesting ways. Snapchat, I think, is one of the most exciting things out there at the moment, and this really speaks to the way media is evolving.
When I was a kid in high school, MTV was just starting and it was a really big deal when, say, Madonna premiered a new video there. This year Madonna premiered the video for Living for Love on Snapchat’s Discover tab, which at that point had only been active for about a week. Snapchat hadn’t done any sort of branded media before. That really tells you something about the way audiences are changing and how you reach people. What Snapchat are doing very effectively is tying that in with creative advertising which brands can sponsor. This isn’t just pre-roll advertising: they’re selling new marketing opportunities to brands. A few months ago Snapchat wasn’t even a player. Now it’s one of the highest volume deliverers of video in the world. My point is that if a CMO wants to get out there and influence the influencers, they’ve got to be where those people are.
Technology is one side of the coin. But content must be authentic if anyone’s going to pay attention. Is that something brands are getting to grips with?
I agree. Content has to be authentic. But you can’t just make something authentic. You might have a great copywriter or PR team, but if they don’t have actual knowledge or experience of your space, you can’t declare them to be the authentic voice of your brand. You have to hire people who have that experience, and then plug them into your organisation.
At Brightcove, all that authentic knowledge is spread throughout the company. It’s not just in the marketing team. One of the things we’re trying to do is get our engineers, our solution architects – the people who live and breathe the product space which our customers occupy – to generate our content. That, to me, makes more sense than hiring a marketer who then has to pretend to be authentic.
About six months ago Instagram released a new tool called Hyperlapse which takes really cool time-lapse videos. I sent an email out to the company and said you’ve got 24 hours to take your own Hyperlapse video. You can do anything you want, but it’s somehow got to talk to Brightcove’s culture. We turned it into a bit of a contest and offered an Xbox to the best one. About 15 people submitted something. They all went up on our blog and they’ve really helped tell the Brightcove story and let people know what sort of company we are.
That was a great way to provide an authentic view of our company, and completely different from me calling up the VP of Marketing and saying ‘Can you shoot a video please that exposes the culture of our company?’ You need to think differently. Authentic content only comes from authentic people. So start with the people.
Interview by Jon Fortgang