When Will the DMA and Industry Leaders Recognize Online Video as a Critical Part of the Rapidly Changing Direct Marketing Industry ?

Recently I received my DMA: 2014 Conference and Exhibition magazine for this year’s annual Direct Marketing Association event in San Diego. I scanned through the 97 featured direct marketing speaker sessions and workshops on the agenda of the San Diego DMA 2014 event looking for sessions and topics that will include information about online video and video marketing as pertains to direct marketing practice in 2014. As has been the case since I got involved in this industry in 2007, sadly online video has not yet been “discovered” by the DMA as a form of direct marketing. Of the 97 session topics presented at this year’s DMA event, only two sessions will discuss video. The good news is that represents a big jump from past years when online video marketing was not mentioned in a single session topic in the DMA event promo magazine.

Based on this, one can conclude that either most members of the direct marketing industry don’t care about online video as applied to direct marketing, or that the DMA continues to be wildly out of touch with what is happening in the digital world of marketing. While not measured as a component of direct marketing, it is pretty clear that online video (and video analytics) are having an enormous impact on the U.S. direct marketing industry which is projected to grow to $196 billion in size in 2016.  And, as you’ll see in Factor Three of my “four critical factors for successful online video direct marketing,” the ability to deliver and track video on smartphones and tablets has added even more ballast and propulsion to the use of online video for direct marketing.

Direct marketing online with video is no longer a “nice to have” option; it has become a “must have” part of the marketing mix.  A 2014 Report from Cisco cited that in 2013 66% of all consumer internet traffic was video related.  By 2018 Cisco predicts that number will rise to 79 percent.  In the 2014 Online Video Production Survey and Industry Trends Report published by the Web Video Marketing Council, 93 percent of respondents stated that their companies are producing video content for online marketing 81 percent for websites, 69 percent for social media marketing and 39 percent for sales lead generation (i.e. b2b direct marketing). It has also been well established that online video drives 4-7 times higher engagement and response rates than static web content. So why haven’t the DMA and its leader’s recognized online video as an important part of the industry’s future? Perhaps they aren’t letting any video files through their antiquated firewalls, so they are unaware of what is really happening in the industry.

  • More than 75% of business executives regularly view online video content according to IMS “Enterprise Video Communications Survey,”
  • Forrester Research reports a two to three-times higher email click through rate on websites with embedded video content.
  • Online viewers spend an average of 1.5 minutes engaged with video compared to an average of eight to ten seconds on static graphic email messages, according to Marketing Sherpa.
  • Online video ads generate four to seven-times higher engagement and response rates than static banner ads, according to DoubleClick.

While I could go on and on citing figures and stats on the growing importance of online video for marketing, and specifically direct marketing, it really begs the question;

Why in 2014, haven’t the Direct Marketing Industry and industry leaders recognized and embraced the huge impact that online video is having on the direct marketing industry?

The reality is that while using online video for direct marketing offers great upside potential and results, for many senior marketers and CMO’s who drive the agenda of the DMA and other industry associations, online video is alien and not what they know.  Using online video for direct marketing requires a different set of technical, creative and marketing skills than print, paid search, static websites and email marketing.  The good news is that younger people entering the direct marketing industry aren’t afraid of video – they get it because it has been a big part of their personal marketing experience for years.

For those up and comers in the direct marketing space, I would offer that there are four critical factors for successful online video direct marketing:

  • Invest in quality video content.  It will pay dividends to create dynamic, engaging content. Using iPhone office videos for social media is fine, but don’t turn your slide presentation into an animoto video to save money. It won’t be very engaging and is not going to generate much response.  High quality, relevant video content engages viewers, compels them to respond and motivates them to share your video message with others. You only have five to eight seconds to capture a viewer’s attention online. Make every second count.
  • Create viewer interactivity.  An effective online video message for lead generation needs to combine engaging video with branding, interactive multimedia content and responsive calls to action.  Standalone video doesn’t allow users to interact with or respond to your marketing or sales message.  It also restricts the ability to track and understand your video’s marketing impact.  Effective video direct marketing combines video with interactive multimedia elements like text, graphics, Web links, buttons, images, Web forms and branding.  New online video platforms make it easy to create video microsites and video landing pages that can be delivered to target audiences by email, weblinks, social media or texting. Interactive video microsites enable viewers to click on links, buttons, and webforms that create responses and valuable feedback.
  • Make your video marketing content Mobile accessible.  Smartphones and Tablets are commanding an ever increasing share of video viewing online.  According to MeFeedia, iPad users commit to watching a web video for 5 minutes on average.  Android users watch for 3 minutes on average.  iPhone users watch for 2.4 minutes on average.  In contrast, desktop users watch web video for less than 2 minutes on average.  It seems companies have little choice; either develop a strategy for maximizing the impact of business video distributed to these mobile devices or suffer the competitive disadvantage of not reaching important audiences. The explosion of the mobile device market is likely to have a major impact on direct marketing. According to a recent business executive survey, more than half of the 1.002 survey respondents said that they would boost their viewing of business video content if they could access it via a tablet device.  This changing landscape for video viewing devices presents particular technical challenges for direct marketers.  Mobile video marketing solutions must be fully automated which means they must have; (1) the ability to have multiple video formats and bit rates encoded simultaneously without having to upload more than one original video file; and (2) the ability to auto-detect the type of viewing device (phone, tablet, laptop), connection speed, operating system (Apple, Android, Windows) and browser type so that the optimal video format and bit rate (video speed) can be delivered automatically.  This means making video content available in both HTML5 format for smaller Smartphone screens is critical.
  • Video direct marketing requires an actionable tracking method.  Good metrics are essential to understanding the success of sales or marketing initiatives.  Direct marketers require the best of both worlds: the ability to engage target audiences with high-impact video and multimedia content and real-time actionable viewer tracking and report that lets salespeople follow up with prospects immediately.  Actionable tracking collects details about a specific user’s interactions by following their email address and other data.  Good software tracks data such as total engagement time, length of time watching video, video starts, videos watched to completion, calls to action links clicked, number of emails forwarded and to whom, social media sharing activity and viewing device used.

Wayne Wall is CEO of Hopkinton, Mass.– based on-demand video software provider Flimp Media.  He can be reached at wwall@flimp.net.