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.