Previously, Econsultancy has discussed the visible impact that new video formats are having upon the online advertising sphere and is an area which we can easily see will implode within the digital environment as a whole over the next twelve months or so.

To get some front-line opinion of the marketplace, we spoke to Nick Bell, co-founder of the up-and-coming interactive video platform,, about this complex and often overlooked marketing medium. 

To cut straight to the chase: what’s happening in the online video marketplace? 

Over the past few years, online video has seen huge growth in terms of both deployment and views, but also revenue generated. Publishers and retailers have realised that video is the most effective communication method, as demonstrated by the long dwell times and recollection statistics… but the cost of production is still high and the accountability of standard play/pause/stop video is still low.

However, the cost of content delivery continues to drop, making professional playout more affordable and new production technologies allow content to be created more affordably. But despite this, most professional online video is originally produced for offline distribution, which continues to hinder the market, as this content is then ‘re-versioned’ to be displayed in a smaller online window. This non interactive, linear content is completely at odds with the ethos of the internet.

Video is currently quite a difficult medium to engage users, do you think this will shift at all in the near future? 

I think video is THE most engaging medium, I think the problem is measuring engagement and creating accountable content with strong calls to actions embedded within video. The one problem at the moment is that in most cases, there is no way to directly link viewings to sales or any other consequential action, something which will change with interactive video and how it’s adopted as a marketing and sales channel. 

Do you think companies need to adapt and invest into video now (and face being left behind) or will they be able to take up the medium when/if it goes mainstream? 

Those who join the party now will probably benefit more, but not to the exclusion of others later on, in most cases.

Which particular sectors do you think should be focusing on a greater engagement with video? 

I think every industry sector can use video successfully, because it’s the best way to impart a message, irrespective of what that message may be. 

The obvious sectors which can gain a huge uplift in this environment are e-tailers, publishers, production companies and agencies, however it’s easy to recognise that there are very few sectors which would not benefit from deploying more video, which is what makes this sector so exciting.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of online video?

It’s no secret that high-quality online video is more expensive to produce and deliver than text and graphic-based content. At this moment in time, for most cases, there is also still a large shortfall between direct revenue generated and costs. Pre and post-roll advertising solutions have proved to be a big turn-off for users, resulting in lost viewers and poor engagement rates. Equally, the branding aspect of video is very hard to measure, although this could be said about a great deal of online branding activity. 

In its favour though, online video has proven time and time again to be a hugely engaging experience, and high demand from consumers can be gauged by looking at the rapid growth figures of usage. It’s just a matter of tapping into this massive potential. 

Would you suggest that video has a better impact on branding than direct results? 

In most current deployments, video is a branding activity, and looking at research, it works well in that respect. 

It seems reasonable to say that a brand’s position may be set by using video: the impact can then be seen to surface through other media forms. This is because in many cases, the availability of video content is limited to a high-level message; a corporate video or TV ad, for example.

Equally, wherever we see this footage being re-versioned or specifically produced for direct results online, it is hugely effective, so in reality, both work well for branding exercises and are mutually compatible (when done correctly) and should therefore be deployed together within a coordinated strategy.

How effective do you feel video currently is against other online marketing strategies and how will this change, if at all?

Online video is the most effective online communication medium although it is still quite early in its development. By this, I mean that those who use it correctly swear by its efficiency, but many marketers are still holding back due to the cost of production. As costs reduce and accountability increases, alongside an increase of video being visibly effective, the use of the medium is extremely likely to rise.

What is the best measurement metric of video to assess its success? 

The best measurement metric is the number of executions through a conversion or “call to action”. 

If the objective of a video is to sell a product, then the best metric is to mirror a paid search campaign and report how many views have converted to click-throughs and sales.

If the objective is different from a direct sale, such as persuading the viewer to sign-up to an offer or mailing list, there needs to be a form within the video through which to apply, thus giving full accountability to the publisher.  This is the same across all other response mechanisms: make them accountable through the developments and opportunities that are available through interactive video. 

What kind of user engagement results have you seen with the various methods offers?

Different videos are published for different reasons, so there needs to be a wide variety of ways in which viewers can respond to what they see within the video, whether it’s a hotspot, voting, live data or product placement.

In all cases there has been a significant uplift in response rates where interactivity has been introduced into a video clip, compared with the same piece that has no interactive formatting. In some cases it’s been phenomenally greater.

It needs to be remembered that much depends on the quality, content and of course, the intended purpose or objective of the video. This returns to the point that the way in which the interactive elements are presented has an important bearing on results.

How do you envision the next twelve months will play out? 

The use of online video will continue to grow and some costs will probably reduce, but the need to monetize the productions is likely to increase. The way in which video is published will therefore evolve: pre-roll ads are likely to diminish in favour of more clever ways to engage users and generate a return on investment.

What factors need to be considered before running a video marketing/advertising campaign? 

Video is no different from any other format used in campaigns. With interactive technology, it is now possible to collect data using forms and voting, allow viewers to click straight through to products, create custom shopping baskets and embed live data such as pricing and availability… all within the video itself. My advice is to be mindful of your objectives and work backwards from there.

What advice would you give to those considering video advertising? 

Don’t just take an offline video and stick it on the internet. Until recently, there was a TV ad running on the homepage of a major financial institution, in which the call to action was to visit their homepage.  

My advice is also to be clear about your objectives, whether advertising or otherwise: consider what footage you already have and whether a re-edit or more is needed. Then, make the clip web-ready to optimise engagement, response rates and accountability, through the interactive and dynamic features that are currently available. Finally, publish wisely and try not to become too complacent when you see the great results start coming through…