All Video Is Not Created Equal

As we have a very active video production business here at Boelter + Lincoln, I’ve been approached by several clients and potential clients with the request of, “we need to get some videos produced, what will it cost for you to produce something for us?”

Of course, there is no simple answer to this question. There are many variables, including distribution, desired objectives and, of course budgets. However, perhaps a more important question to ask is, “how do we make this relevant to our consumer?” After all, if the content isn’t relevant, the cost becomes irrelevant; it will be a failure at any budget level.

With that important caveat in mind, I will now attempt to break down the various types of video content, along with their shelf-life, desired objectives and production quality (aka, budgets).

The demand and consumption of video content has exploded in the past decade, with YouTube being the primary driver of this growth. YouTube currently attracts more than 1 billion unique visitors each month who watch more than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos. These numbers do not take into account the hundreds of thousands of videos produced for training or promotional purposes and hosted on corporate web sites or other video channels such as Vimeo, Daily Motion, Meta Café and many others.

The growth in corporate videos that are produced exclusively for web / YouTube distribution has also grown exponentially. The top 100 corporate producers alone now produce approximately 7,200 videos each month.

While integrating video into your marketing campaign is a basic necessity these days, it isn’t as easy as simply creating a video and putting it up on YouTube. Creating a video that is effective, relevant and successful can offer big rewards, but how do you integrate it successfully? It may help to break it down into these four basic types of video content; brand anthem, promotional, informational/training and webisodes (branded web video content).

Brand Anthem Videos
At the top of the spectrum is the brand anthem piece. Brand anthems are designed to convey the emotional connection between your brand and consumers while communicating the unique aspects of the brand, the people behind it, and the product. These videos typically will have a fairly long shelf-life and will remain evergreen for between six months and two years. Production values should be the best you can possibly afford and budgets will typically be between $50,000 and $500,000. Remember, quality does not come cheap with video and these pieces should not have the look and feel of a PayDay Loan store ad. Run times will be in the 90 second to 3 minute range.

This brand anthem video will typically include character dialogue, narration, and emotive music, and there is often a very simple call to action (such as “visit our website at …”) through on-screen text. Moreover, the content in this video would not be nearly as personable and powerful if it were communicated through another format. The same scale of emotional connection could not have been achieved with static images alone. The moving images also create a successful story arc.

One of the best examples of this type of video comes from the very successful Find Your campaign by Expedia.

Promo Videos
Just like the typical promotion, these videos are served up with the objective of driving a specific call to action over a limited amount of time. While production values are important, the primary focus of the content is to highlight both the product and the special offer.

The shelf life for these videos is typically between two and six weeks and production costs could range from $5,000 to $50,000. However, some promo spots for large national brands (e.g. Toyota, McDonald’s) may run significantly higher.

Remember to keep your product promo videos focused on demonstrating your product, rather than just talking about it. Make sure your product is showcased in a relevant, useful way. The special offer should be clear and easy to remember.

Informational Videos
Whether for internal audiences and distributed via a closed intranet system or for your consumers and available on the web, the purpose of the info video is to demonstrate how your product works.

While info videos may remain evergreen for a year or more, they are typically a single camera shoot taken in a well-lit room or a production studio. The cost of production will typically run between $5,000 and $50,000; however, they can often be done for even less.

Content should include all three of the key components of video: audio, visuals, and text/dialogue. Do not simply show your viewers something without explaining it. Keep it quick and to the point and consider including personal interviews or product/service reviews to make it more engaging.

It is safe to say that each and every day there are many thousands of commercially produced, short form videos produced to feed the social marketing beast. These are put out with the objective of engaging your loyal fans and also attracting new members to your fan base. They are typically more about brand building than they are about selling or promoting.

While some webisodes may go viral and have a fairly long lifespan, the majority flash hot for only a few days or few weeks. Running times may be between 30 seconds and several minutes. Production values vary widely as do costs. Under the right circumstances they can be produced for $2,500-$5,000, however, I would say that the average cost is more in the $7,500-$15,000 range.

I have not even mentioned user generated content (UGC) which has also become a significant part of the video content mix. If you don’t have a video content strategy I highly recommend that you develop one. And, next time when you go to your agency partner with the request of a video, you can be a bit clearer on what your needs are.

Updated October 8, 2013