Chris Gorell Barnes is CEO of Adjust Your Set, an online video agency which provides branded content channels for companies such as Thomas Pink, M&S, Sotheby’s and Royal Opera House.

Chris will be speaking at Econsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing 2010 event about his vision for the future of video on the web. The event takes place on June 16, there are still some places available. 

I’ve been talking to Chris about how the use of online video can benefit brands… 

Tell me about Adjust Your Set

It was founded two years ago, we set it up to create online video channels for brands, much like companies as Audi have done on TV. 

Thanks to the rise in broadband and technology, there was and still is a real opportunity for brands to create channels online. 

We found that clients were looking for a full service company to provide this. 

So we brought in creative’s from traditional advertising, strategic technology people, production facilities etc.  We have directors, producers, brand strategists, creatives, writers, designers, developers, programmers, digital strategists and account management, everything under one roof.

We are about creating intelligent content to create brand awareness. Video is the most powerful communications tool available, and online is the best place to reach an audience. 

Why should retailers use video? 

Video allows you to be able to see the product better, and shows the personality of the brand. With video, retailers can showcase a product more effectively, so customers can see how a product moves, the story behind a product, see how it was made, and more. 

By using product videos, retailers can improve conversion rates by anything up to 100%, while online video has also been shown to reduce returns rates for retailers by 60%.

If customers can see a video showing how a product works and get a better general idea of it before they buy, then they don’t need to return it. 

Is there an optimum length for video before users switch off? 

We constantly measure engagement to see how long users have watched videos for and which actions they have taken after viewing. The length of video depends on the piece of content. It’s a lean-forward medium and users want to be able to do something with it. 

Generally, less than three minutes is the optimum length of time, and we normally produce videos between 45 seconds and three minutes long. 

However, this is something that has changed over time, and will change as people become more accustomed to watching videos online. 

Has there been any reluctance from retailers to adopt video? 

In the UK, retailers such as Net A Porter and MyWardrobe have used video for some time, but the UK has been relatively slow to catch on compared to the US. 

M&S has been very forward thinking in this area and has introduced TV channels and had some fantastic results, though US retailers like Best Buy have led the way in this area. 

Now, more retailers are using them, while FMCG and automotive brands have been successfully creating video channels online. 

Does video have a role as a conversation starter in social networks?

Video is very transportable, people can easily send and share videos, and there is that potential viral effect. Video is a great way to start a conversation and have all that chatter around a video. If you can firstly create that chatter then use it and bring it back into the video, you can take it further. 

For brands, there is a huge opportunity for starting online conversations by creating provocative video content. The Nike video for the World Cup is a great example; it has had 11m views online; it’s more pandemic than viral.

It’s a well produced video that has gained a lot of attention for a brand that isn’t even sponsoring the World Cup. 

What works best for brands using video online? 

A combination of high production values, great ideas, and intelligent content. Too many companies think of video as a second class citizen, but it is important to plan your video strategy carefully. 

You have to take into account what do you want the video to do, how you want the viewer to respond to the video, what actions the user can take, and how you will measure the outcome. There needs to be a clear strategy. 

People love brands and often want to find out more, and video allows them to present information in a more accessible format.

For instance, it has helped with M&S and getting information across about Plan A; most people don’t want to read 12 page PDFs, but ideas like this can be communicated effectively through video. 

In the same way, financial services firms can use video to explain complex products in a more accessible way for customers. 

How can video be used as part of a multichannel approach? 

Multichannel is hugely important for brands, and there is the opportunity to create this seamless experience, video can be used on TV, online, can be distributed in store, through video signage and more.

For example, in-store videos can allow the retailer to control the message and enables them to be more reactive. Retailers could use it to push products where there is excess stock, or to adjust the message to the weather, so umbrellas could be promoted when it is raining. 

How important will mobile video become? 

There has been a huge increase in the use smartphones, and video is becoming more important on these devices. The iPhone has made viewing of video on mobile more attractive, the iPad even more so. 

Good brand videos need to be tailored to these devices, but the ‘Holy Grail’ is some kind of location-based video content combined with vouchers and coupons to send customers into store. 

This would be closing the loop, allowing users to interact with the message, and for advertisers to tailor the offering. 

What are the most important online video metrics for you and your clients? 

We look at a number of different metrics: drop-off rates, engagement, use of calls to action, how many viewers click on buy links or choose to send videos to friends. 

We’re constantly measuring engagement, and this is often the most important measurement for brands. 

There are a number of factors than can be adjusted to improve the performance of videos. For example, if people are dropping off at the 47-second mark on the video, then we can change it and show the product and price earlier on.