Video has become an increasingly popular--and effective--way for marketers to engage with consumers. Separately, but simultaneously, the need and ability to personalise marketing efforts has also emerged as a huge priority.
Now put the two together, and the power of personalised video seems like a sure bet.
Brands are catching on. For example, last month Facebook launched the “Say Thanks” video--its second video campaign of the year. Based on a nifty piece of software, the campaign lets members use their own photos to create customised videos for their friends.
The campaign follows the successful “A Look Back” personalised video, which ran in February to celebrate Facebook’s 10 birthday. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference within days of the videos launch, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the video had been created and shared by over 200 million Facebook users. More importantly, according to Sandberg, more than 50 percent of people who watched the video went on to create and share their own.
Although Facebook is staying mum regarding the traction of the more recent personalised video offering, U.K.-based, Mondelez-owned chocolate maker Cadbury is not so shy in touting the success of its own personalised video play. In late August the company launched a personalised video campaign in Asia to support its Cadbury Glow gift chocolates in India.
Consumers were given the chance to upload photos either manually or from Facebook to create a personalised video, and then email it to a friend. The video includes a box of Cadbury Glow chocolates at the end.
Cadbury reports strong customer engagement with the video, with 90 percent watching the personalised video to the end, 65 percent clicking through to the Cadbury website, and 34 percent converting by filling out a contest form. More than 40 percent of additional campaign participants came via Facebook shares.
The key question for marketers is whether analytics like these are the result of strong storytelling and the power of personalisation, or just sheer novelty. Would the impressive results be replicated if others attempted a similar campaign, or is early-mover advantage likely to dissipate as the technique becomes mainstream?
Ronit Soen, head of marketing at Idomoo, which built the Cadbury video, said he is bullish on the strategic value of personalised video for marketers. The Cadbury video was effective, she said, because it was not about chocolate, but rather was a channel to reinforce friendships and family relationships.
“It's more than content--it's a whole experience, a new way to experience your brand and extend it far and beyond a solid product,” Israel-based Soen explained. “This is how brands should fight commoditisation. Personalized video will be the common practice and will span across all communication and channels, inbound and outbound. No more blasts, no more spam--it's a new area of relevancy of personal advertising and communication. No more ‘one size fits all.’”
Counting The Cost
But Kym Illman, founder of Perth, Australia-based Messages on Hold, offered a different perspective. His company has produced a number of personalised video campaigns, the most successful being World’s Greatest Business Mind, which has had more than 9 million views to date, and continues to attract a steady share rate of 2,000 a day.
Illman said there is no question about the effectiveness of personalised video–or any personalisation; however, he believes the cost and technical hurdles are significant and have thus far prevented it from becoming a mainstream phenomenon.
“When people receive [personalised videos], they love them. There’s no doubt it gives you great cut-through,” Illman said. “People love to see their own name. It’s the vanity factor. But it’s hard enough to do and expensive enough to do, so it becomes something that not everyone can do.”
Messages on Hold mostly produces personalised videos for itself because it has the capability in-house. Clients often ask Illman if he can produce one for them, but then balk at the price tag, which ranges from $30,000 to $100,000.
For this reason he suggests anyone considering a personalised campaign ensure it’s a properly costed element of an overall strategy linked to engagement and sales.
Strategy And Seeding
So when can personalized videos make the most impact?
According to Idomoo’s Soen, they are most effective for commoditised industries that need to differentiate around customer experience, such as telcos, for example, to explain bills or on-board new customers. Other applications include industries where products and offers are complex, such as insurance providers, mortgage lenders, utilities and banks, and organisations with loyalty programs, such as retailers and airlines.
The most important consideration is the creative, which should be flattering to the recipient in order to make it engaging and shareable, Illman added.
“Anything with your name on it is immensely powerful, and whether you’ll show it to one person or a million people depends on the creative,” he said. One of his favourites is the Sporting Portugal video where the soccer coach makes a call, your phone rings, and he talks to you.
Marketers can expect to see diminishing returns from personalised video if they “keep rehashing the same idea,” Illman also said, and the same applies to a video that becomes too mainstream. For example, he said, the popular Facebook “Say Thanks” video has been appearing several times a day in his news feed, and, like most videos, it was “really only good for one hit.”
As well as creative, distribution must be considered, Illman said. Messages on Hold sends its videos to a database of 10,000 people, but he has had clients attempt to seed video with only 100--a strategy that’s unlikely to succeed. The best creative in the world might catch on organically, but most videos need to be seeded, he said. Organisations should consider buying a database if they don’t have one already.