Open enrollment is a critical period for Sharp HealthCare, the largest not-for-profit health-care system in San Diego. From September through December, Sharp’s communications team gets the word out about open enrollment, along with the organization’s services, through a variety of marketing channels.
However, at the heart of the effort is a documentary program, titled “Stories of The Sharp Experience.” The 30-minute video features a series of five- to seven-minute stories on patients who have greatly benefited from Sharp HealthCare, including Jasmine, who delivered healthy twin babies after Sharp’s doctors successfully treated a rare condition that had developed in her womb.
“These are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances,” said Janet Clancy, VP of marketing and advertising at Sharp HealthCare, in an interview with CMO.com. “Nothing is scripted. Nothing is rehearsed. When filming, we try to be very unobtrusive. We’re very sensitive to that.”
Sharp’s staff videographer works closely with Badami and Associates—which specializes in video/film production—to accompany and record the patient as he or she receives the initial diagnosis, through treatment and onto recovery.
“They’re there from the beginning,” said Diane Gage Lofgren, CMO of Sharp HealthCare, referring to the video crew. “It could be several weeks or months [of shooting] at a time. They become close [with patients].”
The documentary, which premiered during Sharp’s annual “All Staff Assembly” in October, shows the advanced medial technology that Sharp doctors bring to bear. But it also helps to humanize the brand. “People get a sense of how health care is practiced in real time and see things that can reduce their anxiety about going to see a doctor,” Lofgren told CMO.com.
The documentary and individual profiles are likely to “earn” media from news and Web outlets that are interested in the various stories. What’s more, the video series has a paid component, with some of the stories repackaged as 60-second ads that run on local TV stations, as well cable channels and digital venues.
The video content loops continuously on the organization’s website, YouTube channel, and other social media platforms. Each video contains a link to a microsite featuring a video testimonial from the caring physician, along with his or her medical background. This content will run for about a year or so, until a new batch of stories is ready to roll as part of the next open enrollment kickoff.
“Video is the currency,” Lofgren said. “People want to see people like them and want to see not only our expertise among our medical staff, but how [patients] are treated and how they interact with physicians, which is just as important as the technology side.”
As “Stories of The Sharp Experience” demonstrates, online video now plays an increasingly key role in strategic marketing, as brands produce original, more emotionally driven content. Online video has been around for years, of course. But now it’s starting to creep toward the center of online communications and command bigger budgets. The shelf life for talking-head videos and similar fare is fast approaching its expiration date.
The change is a function of several factors. The cost barriers to shooting, producing, and distributing online video continue to fall (the bigger investment may be workers’ time). Social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, offer marketers a slew of options (and audiences) for distribution of their video content. YouTube has become a marketing vehicle rather than an end in itself. The lure of live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat is also pushing online video toward the core.
Research bears out how online video continues to grab more mind share online. In 2016, adults 18 and over are expected to spend an average of 18.9% of their time online, per day, watching digital video, according to eMarketer. That’s up from 14% in 2012. By 2020 consumers will spend about 20% of their time online watching digital video, compared to 12% for social networks and 6% for Facebook, eMarketer said.
The trend lines have led marketers to recalibrate both the creative and budgeting for online video programming.
Unlike just a few years ago, when many online videos were repurposed TV ads, marketers are now slicing and dicing original video content to cater to different stages of the sales and marketing funnel, said Tim Bahr, CEO of NextWorks, an online video production and distribution company whose clients include Allianz Global, Best Buy, and Intel.
For prospects, videos should offer a general overview of the brand and the value proposition—and quickly, within two to three minutes, according to Bahr. “Otherwise, you’re wasting your time,” he told CMO.com. The deeper the individual gets into the purchasing funnel, the longer and more granular the video content and onto to the bottom of the funnel, accordingly.
“You have to customize,” Bahr added. “In the ‘old days,’ digital marketers were spending $200,000 or $300,000 on one high-end video. Now they’re spending the same amount of money, and producing 20 or 30 videos, in order to tailor content for different audiences.”
When Toyota debuted its all-new Tacoma pick-up truck last September, for example, the company created multiple videos to tap into research showing that consumers use the truck for different activities.
To appeal to the younger crowd, one video distributed on Facebook and Twitter shows the Tacoma in action juxtaposed with activities shared by some of its customers, such as dirt biking and mountain climbing.
But to draw in truck enthusiasts, Toyota posted a slow-motion video on Instagram featuring the Tacoma doing battle against the elements, such as mud and snow. Some of Toyota’s various branding videos on social media are showing the highest completion rates to date, the company said.
“It’s incumbent upon as a marketers to develop [video] content that will resonate with our audiences,” said Lisa Materazzo, corporate manager for media strategy and digital engagement at Toyota. “There’s not much to leverage unless the content speaks directly to them and is distributed in the right places.”
Materazzo added that online video is a growing percentage of the company’s overall marketing budget, although she would not be more specific. With online video programming, she told CMO.com, “We’re able to tell stories about people’s adventures and bring those experiences to life.”
The PurinaNetwork, which launched in 2014, may be a good harbinger for where branded video content is headed. The network, comprised of more than 20 brand channels, integrates the various channels with audiences that Purina wants to reach.
Take Purina Puppy Chow’s co-branded BuzzFeed Puppyhood video, featuring two main characters: the slightly scruffy Max and (the impossibly lovable) Chloe.
“The narrative taps into what any new dog owner can identify with: the trials, tribulations, and joy experienced with a puppy in the house,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CMO of Nestlé Purina North America, in an interview with CMO.com. “The objective was to drive trial of the [product] by demonstrating puppies should be eating puppy food.” Total views are in the 80-million range, the company said.
“Our marketers create online video to accomplish one of two objectives: trial or loyalty,” Krueger said. “What is exciting about digital content are the new formats of brand communications and the rapid advancement of tools to measure success.”
Indeed, as video grows in importance, so, too, will be the ability to measure its value. Time spent seems to trump other indices. It’s an increasingly key metric in Toyota’s ability to measure online programming, particularly in the mobile space. “You have to be very clear on the goals and objectives of the specific video,” Materazzo said.
Some of the other metrics the company uses to track its video content include branding metrics, shares, website traffic, engagement metrics, lead generation, and the number of times someone contacts an auto dealer after viewing video content.
Time spent is at the top of the measurement list for health information and technology company Remedy Health Media, according to Jim Curtis, chief strategy officer. “We know video is important and have measured success through audience engagement KPIs on and off the Remedy Health Network, such as time spent, completion rates, likes and views,” he told CMO.com.
Remedy Health Media recently began running on its Facebook page video clips from its “Live Bold, Live Now” Web series, which blends video, audio, and still photography to educate people about ills such as Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.
“As a brand, we started with long-form video storytelling ranging from 15 to 25 minutes in length,” Curtis said. “We then started to produce short form to reach the needs of those viewers who may be more inclined to watch from BuzzFeed or other social channels.”
For 2016, the company is planning to develop 30- to 90-second video snippets inspired by Humans of NY, a blog with photographic portraits of thousands of New Yorkers, featuring stories, captions, and quotes.
“Video has been our greatest asset to effectively tell our story in an authentic, inspirational way, profitably for the company and with popularity with our audience and potential new viewers,” Curtis said. “We have clear corporate goals around revenue, audience, and mission.”
See what the Twitterverse is saying about online video: