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Online video consumption has doubled in the space of a year, and this rate of growth may well continue for some time to come. It provides brands with a huge opportunity to engage consumers.

Smartphone penetration has helped, though I think the real reason why online video is doing so well is linked to the ease with which videos can be shared. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are perfect for passing around videos.

So what should brands be doing about this? How can they make the most of this trend towards richer, smarter, more interactive video content?

I have 10 ideas for you to peruse, with plenty of examples, to show you what the smarter brands are doing. 

Branded Videos – M&S

The retailer has made a significant investment into this space. It uses Adjust Your Set to create around 700 branded videos a year. These videos come in many different shapes and sizes but often extend the discussion around product lines, and sometimes feature various ‘faces of M&S’, in this case Myleene Klass. Typically, they are not explicitly sales-orientated, as far as the content is concerned. 

Product Videos - ASOS

If you work in e-commerce and haven’t yet embraced product videos then you need to schedule a meeting. Product videos can significantly increase conversion rates and basket sizes. They can also help to reduce returns. Many types of videos can be outsourced to specialist agencies, but it might be best to create product videos in-house. Both Net-A-Porter and ASOS (shown below) have integrated product videos seamlessly.

ASOS product video catwalk

User Videos - Firebox

User-generated videos filmed by customers are an incredibly compelling way of showing off a product. Firebox is the undisputed king of the user video: it has more than 50 videos for one product alone, and does a really fantastic job of displaying them along with ratings and stats (note that the user video shown below has had more than 42,000 views. Epic...). Light sabres are perfect for this sort of thing, though perhaps it is trickier to solicit user videos for less sexy products. 

Firebox - amazing user videos

Sponsored Videos – Fosters / Alan Partridge 

The Heineken-owned lager brand ponied up enough cash to persuade Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci to create 12 new 11-minute episodes of an Alan Partridge show, called ‘Mid Morning Matters’. The videos have generated more than 4m views for Fosters, which is (sensibly) nailing its flag to the comedy mast. I think we’re going to see more of this sort of thing in the future, with brands underwriting the production of quality content from established acts. 

Clickable Video – French Connection’s YouTique

Here’s another trend that I expect to see more of: video with ‘click’ functionality. French Connection's YouTique campaign is one way of using clickable video to drive engagement. 

Choose your ending ads – Tipp-Ex

Similar to the above, the ability to insert click functionality into a video means online advertisers can be incredibly creative, without resorting to lame intrusive formats. The Tipp-Ex ‘shoot a bear’ campaign has set the bar suitably high. It’s great fun and the execution is superb (it should win awards, if it hasn’t already). The Tipp-Ex channel on YouTube has amassed more than 45m views. A massive win, at least as far as awareness and engagement is concerned.

It's even brilliant when it doesn't work...

Tipp-ex FTW

Hotspot videos for e-commerce - Westfield

Another way of using clickable overlays is to allow viewers to click on the things they see on the screen. This is known as ‘hotspotting’, and it is becoming more popular among fashion retailers. The Westfield Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Video demonstrates how this works.

Viral Videos - Ford and Volkswagen

Have you experimented with viral video yet? Viral marketing is bigger than ever, and with cross-device video consumption massively on the rise we’re going to see more brands entering the fray. There are two distinct tactics employed by brands with budgets to spend: 

1) create video content specifically for the web / viral marketing, e.g. Ford Focus – The Doug Puppet

2) create Hollywood-quality ad campaigns and seed them on the web in advance of a TV release, e.g. Volkswagen ‘The Force’

Unruly Media's Viral Video Chart provides more examples of brands that are embracing social video. We interviewed Unruly's Sarah Wood recently, who provides lots of insight into social video marketing.

Augmented Reality Videos – AXA Belgium

There have been some fun AR executions lately. I particularly liked the video created by AXA Belgium, to extend a print ad campaign. Highly innovative. There are some other examples of augmented reality goodness here and here

User Testing Videos – Whatusersdo tests Boden

We reviewed the relaunched Boden website last year and included a user testing video, shown below. Listening to users is so important and video is one way of capturing a real-time view of how people react to your web experience. The background noise is as interesting as the statements they make. 

There are plenty of other applications for video, but the above constitute 10 of the more vital ones, at least as far as I'm concerned. What else can you use video for? Which brands are doing video well? Please leave your thoughts below.

Chris Lake

Published 8 April, 2011 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (15)

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Nick Stamoulis

These are all great ideas! Online videos give companies the chance to get really creative and connect with their audience in a new way. It's still possible to be interesting to the viewer AND get your messaging across. Be entertaining and persuasive.

over 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Hi Chris,

Some good examples here. I really liked the M and S shoe one. Nothing gimmicky about it, just an informative but nicely produced product demonstration. Basic marketing 101, shows how the product solves a problem - pain from high heals - and the benefit - look glamorous without sacrificing comfort.

However I look at the view count for this video. Less than 400 views in 2 months. Browsing their website I see they have a tab for M & S TV but they don't imbed this video in the woman's shoes section. So why bother creating such good content if no one sees it? They must have a huge e-newsletter list - did they email it to them?



over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Guy. So my understanding is that M&S slices content in different ways for different channels. It will edit a video many different ways, depending on the distribution method. A newspaper audience will see one thing, an email subscriber another, a web visitor another, a TV viewer another, an instore customer another, etc etc. Whether that's the case here or not I don't know, but that's definitely part of its video strategy...

over 5 years ago



I'd have to disagree with the branded content video being a "top 10 video type", or at least not the particular video displayed here.

As the previous commenter pointed out, that video followed marketing 101...show benefits, solves a problem...but where is the connection? Where is the emotion? The video puts you to sleep after the first 30 seconds (however I am a guy so I might be a little biased here).

Videos need human emotion. Period. Look back at any "viral" video out there or any modestly successful video. Without emotion or something to draw the person in, no matter how great that benefit is, you won't have the impact.

over 5 years ago



Love the bear video! Too bad they have bad words in it...

over 5 years ago


The Digi Deli

Interesting article. Loving the VW one made me laugh out loud. Might even try it with my son. We've recently produced a number of videos for web clients including product demos and vox pops. Smaller scale (and budget) but useful none the less.

over 5 years ago

Chris Gorell Barnes

Chris Gorell Barnes, CEO at Adjust Your Set

Hi Guy,

Many thanks for the compliments on the M&S video – we’re always proud of the content we produce for them! Just wanted to jump in here and clear up any miss-understandings about the placement of the content. Chris helped answer some of the questions you had; we create a variety of content and distribute it to customers at various points along the purchasing journey all part of our blended distribution strategy. However, the video you mention above with only 400 views is actually from YouTube. One of the best places to actually hide your video content online! The majority of the M&S video content is actually consumed on M&S.com and with the click-to-buy technology embedded within those videos, M&S has received a 25% sales uplift from people who engage with video. So although that piece only received 400 views it’s only one part of the multi-channel strategy for M&S.
Many thanks for all your feedback – it’s always appreciated!



over 5 years ago


Gareth Robinson, Head of E Commerce at Admiral

Hi there, Great post. I especially like the Tippex post very creative. I am also a fan of the UGC videos on Firebox. I know these get a lot of traffic as I uploaded a video of my retro Big Trak here and it has generated several thousand views...

Two other good applications of video are as follows:

(1) Use video to showcase a useful tool on your website

Nike ID use a video to explain to people the benefits of the Nike ID website where you can personalise your shoes. This not only brings it to life but is a great way for Nike to generate incremental traffic to their website:


(2) Behind the scenes videos

People love programmes where they see behind the scenes. Think about all the reality tv shows out there like Ice Road Truckers, Worlds Deadliest Catch and Vets in Practice. Is a great way to put a personal face on your brand.

Here is an example of a Factory Tour video for a site I have been involved with called Bollards Direct which shows behind the scenes where the products are made:


Finally, I think another area businesses need to think of is video distribution. Brands should consider video sharing platforms such as Vimeo, Viddler and Daily Motion to increase their reach.

over 5 years ago


Mike Todd

Very intereting. We're running a seminar on this very issue at Manchester Science Park in a couple of weeks.

To my mind, the key with online video, whatever form it's in is that the quality of content is there. Visuals etc. can only go so far/ are little more than aspects of the design. The substance needs to support the message and/ or engagement.

As with the Foster's example, I think you'll see a drift of 'content' talent drift from more traditional mediums like television, to supplement their income from a narrowing commissioning spend.

over 5 years ago


Gareth Robinson, Head of E Commerce at Admiral

Mike, Agree with your point about a "content talent drift" taking place.

This is already happening in the US where there is a growth of Internet celebs who have built their reputation and brand through online video. Good examples are Gary Vaynerchuk (wine Library.tv) who gets 100k views per day on his wine review blog.

PS-where and when in Manc for seminar? (based in Huddersfield)

over 5 years ago


Tom Lindridge, Marketing Executive at Parenta

As a training provider, we regularly use videos to engage with both current and prospective learners.

over 5 years ago


Sumeet Vermani , Digital Marketing Exec at Trinity Mirror Group

The latest youtube campaign building on tip ex blew me away last week - its for Desperados beer www.youtube.com/desperados

over 5 years ago

Andrew Wise

Andrew Wise, Strategic Director at Engine CreativeSmall Business

Great article Chris and your points definitely echo the change we've seen with our clients over the past 18 months.

They've embraced video and animation as part of a broader content marketing approach and are getting great short and long term results and a good bang for their buck / pound / Euro / etc.

over 5 years ago

Martin White

Martin White, Senior User Experience Manager at Sainsbury's

Useful stuff, Chris. I would also suggest video tutorials for certain sites.

I'm surprised about your recommendation for the usability video when, in the example of Boden, the user had a such poor experience. No such thing as bad press perhaps?

over 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

@Chris Gorrel Barnes, thanks for the clarification. I am really glad I didn't slag off your videos now :-). I also saw the TV ad for the show brand and it's worth noticing the difference between an ad and a product demonstration. They serve different purposes. A clever ad might be more viral but a well done product demonstration might help conversation at the point of purchase etc.

I tend to put everything on Youtube and then embed it on our three web properties.

over 5 years ago

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