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Video

Brands increasingly turn to animation as COVID restrictions challenge filming production

By Something Big

Over the last few years, video has played an ever-increasing role in communications strategies. At the beginning of 2020, 92% of marketers, who use video, said it was an important part of their strategy, up from 78% in 2015*. And this isn’t just marketers opinion, according to industry leader, Hubspot, video content and product videos increase purchases by 144%.

But COVID ground production to a near-halt, with ever-changing rules, winter on the horizon and more areas of the country moving into higher restrictions, that challenge continues.

During lockdowns we have seen plenty of home video-style camera footage which has enabled brands to get their message out, but is this really the best way to position your brand going forward?

Historically, animation has been a hugely underestimated tool in marketing. Marketers can be more comfortable with traditional formats like interviews and live footage, but in the current climate, more brands are starting to consider an array of animated content formats.

Produced well, animation can be an incredibly powerful tool to tell your story or simplify a complex narrative with engaging graphics and works particularly well in social channels where 85% of video’s are now watched on silent.

Animation starts with a blank canvas and no limit to the graphics that can be brought into a story making anything possible. With a variety of formats to fit different budgets, from simple explainer videos to high production value animations fit for TV and online advertising, it really is the most versatile of marketing tools.

If you’ve only dipped your toe in the animation waters or have stuck to more traditional formats, we’re here to help and happy to guide you through the process end-to-end. Let us help you tell your story.

See our animation showreel and get in touch by clicking here.

* https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data

Advanced TV: No longer a mystery with VDX.tv’s latest white paper

By VDX.tv

We believe in the power of video to deliver full and seamless experiences across all screens. That’s why in March 2020, Exponential launched new division VDX.tv – precisely to focus on tailormade video-driven experiences that captivate, compel and convert consumers on whichever device they are on.

VDX.tv enables brands to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways by providing bespoke video units and data to target only the most relevant audiences across all screens, from mobile, desktop and even OTT (Over-the-top).

OTT is a form of Advanced TV (a catchall term for any television content beyond linear television) that is on everyone’s lips but also one very new for many marketers. For those who are still uncertain about how to best leverage the benefits of Advanced TV, we set out to arm marketers with the knowledge to advertise across all screens with confidence.  

Our guide, entitled “Advanced Learning, How Advanced TV Can Drive Brand Results”, provides a detailed explanation of what Advanced TV is in all its forms, why it is important to consider and how it can help brands generate results. It also includes basic definitions of terminology used in a multi-screen world, data and examples of usage levels of OTT devices across European markets. 

Additionally, we’ve included eight reasons why Advanced TV should matter to brands and advertisers. These eight points cover: the growth of OTT service subscribers (already increased in the UK, with four in ten viewers claiming that online video services are their primary means of watching television and film), the impact of video, the ability to personalise and segment messages thanks to the use of data, the importance of offering an omnichannel experience across all devices, and lastly, the ability to drive results.

The Advanced TV guide can be downloaded here.

How is global working affecting video management?

By Parham Azimi, CEO, Cantemo

The latest iteration of Cisco’s “Visual Networking Index” found that video will account for 82 percent of all online traffic by 2022. That means most of the content your site visitors, leads and potential customers consume will include moving pictures, and all of this needs to be managed well.

In addition to a huge increase in video content production, distributed global teams are now an everyday norm for many companies.

According to an article published in Forbes at the end of 2018, remote working is a standard operating mode for at least 50% of the US population. Employees are beginning to expect a flexible work life and Forbes is predicting that Generation Z workers will expect more choices as to when and where they work.

However, it’s not only employees who are seeing the benefits of working remotely; many employers are reaping the benefits of increased productivity from their remote staff, as highlighted by recruitment organisation Tecla in its 2019 article.

With clear advantages, it’s not surprising that there has been a giant increase in employers embracing distributed teams. However, it doesn’t just promote productivity, it opens up a whole new workforce. This allows businesses to employ well qualified and talented staff based on their qualifications as opposed to where they live. Of course, adapting workflows to enable this presents employers with some challenges. With offices based around the world some staff are starting their day when others are switching the lights off.

How can you ensure smooth and seamless collaboration for creative teams working on the same projects, but in different time zones? The benefits of remote teams mean that organisations are ready to implement technology to make this easier and more efficient. However, industries that work heavily with reams of data are faced with a decision; what solutions are suitable for the job? Is there a solution that not only enables video management, but also enhances it?

When file sharing isn’t enough

When we are thinking about file sharing, we’re considering options such as Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive. These are popular and low-cost tools that can be a suitable way to handle media when your content library or archive is small. With capabilities to share links and set permissions, sometimes web-based sharing is enough as it does all of this very well. However, its file sharing falls short when being used for more complex workflows, such as collaborative projects that have multiple stakeholders,  teams, timezones. Have you ever tried to find a file that your colleague has mis-named, duplicated or saved in the wrong location? This is where it’s time to consider file management tools. 

The case for Media Management 

Finding lost files wastes valuable time. Add to this the complexity of collaborating with creative teams and clients across multiple locations and you can feel the metaphorical sweat beads starting to form. Metadata may be part of the solution.

Combining AI—which allows computing brain power do the heavy lifting—with rich metadata will provide the tools to make media searchable and easier to find. Automated and bulk metadata tasks can allow for efficient media management. Tagging media enables a huge set of parameters to search for content.

Instead of manually choosing where to file media featuring a family, on a day trip, travelling by train, with their dog, you could choose a better option and make the file discoverable using any one of those search terms. Better still, AI capabilities have now been developed to a point in which it can identify the images within the footage, translate this into metadata and provide the user with the content when searched for.

However, global working creates a challenge when managing how you store your data; metadata needs space and remote teams need scalable storage solutions that are easy to access. How should global businesses be storing their content? Can the right storage increase efficiency? 

Storing files and workflows

With many global organisations recognising their complex storage requirements, time must be spent considering how to use storage and workflows to improve efficiencies on an operational level. Sharing files with global teams and clients for review is often quickly and effectively handled by applying cloud-based workflows.

A cloud-based workflow can route all of the steps in the process for approval, regardless of where staff are located. Cloud-based workflows also drive productivity by taking workflows online and reducing manual steps; this rapidly increases efficiency, often at a lower cost than alternatives. As legacy systems start to creak under the strain of modern working challenges, many organisations are considering whether the cloud holds the solution to streamlined workflows.

Cloud working has become a widely adopted computing term.  Most marketers understand that taking storage power from hardware on premise and placing it in the cloud is beneficial for many reasons. However, when swapping to the cloud an organisation’s first decision is whether to adopt cloud storage or a hybrid. Hybrid cloud is a combination of both cloud storage and on-premise storage. It offers users with flexibility when it comes to file sharing and keeps egress costs at a minimum. Add in proxies, which I’ll address later on, and you’ve got a powerful, modern solution.

An editor may already have several hundred gigabytes of data for just one project, which makes sharing and global collaboration difficult. Projects with a fast turnaround can easily encounter bottlenecks that slow down processes and defeat the objective of a media management solution. Enter: proxies.

Proxies

To avoid a content bottleneck, cloud-based media management solutions should provide the ability to offer proxy workflows, particularly non-linear editors (NLEs). With proxies, editors can edit content and the project timeline without having to use significant amounts of bandwidth that are required when moving the high-resolution files around. Working with and moving much smaller files has cost implications for egress (getting your files back out of the cloud) and should be considered when selecting a vendor for services. 

The right tech is the solution

Whether collaborators are across the hall or across the country, organisations need their staff to have the ability to access, edit and share media easily and quickly. Businesses are now turning to sophisticated media management tools to make it simpler to share media at various stages of production, review, edit, and seek approval – no matter where teams are based. All of the advantages of hybrid cloud-based file management produce fewer obstacles in developing and collaborating on creative content. 

Hassle-free, secure and reliable, hybrid workflows support global organisations while they solve their media management challenges. A customised and robust hybrid cloud platform offers a smart solution that enhances ordinary asset management whilst enabling collaborative working. The benefits of remote working outweigh the challenges; equip your business with the right tools and there’s no reason not to hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they are in the world. 

Sony launches immersive media experience with New York pop-up

Visitors to Sony’s ‘Lost In Music’ pop-up space in New York are being invited to create a personalised song as they move through the immersive experience.

Now in its third year, Lost In Music – produced by creative agency Ralph – unites Sony Music artists with Sony technology to produce creative, unique and shareable music experiences.

Through a weekly online show as well as the physical pop-up, Lost In Music showcases various innovative Sony technologies combined with exclusive interviews and performances from multiple Sony Music artists.

The groundbreaking Lost In Music experiential installation analyses the way each attendee moves and interacts with the cutting-edge technology throughout the space, combining it with the rhythm of their own heartbeat and adding musical components to create a unique, downloadable track.

Within the space, located at 201 Mulberry St. in New York City, visitors can get creative with:-

Heartbeat Chamber– This sets the BPM of the track by taking your heart rate.

Interactive Dancefloor Sequencer– You can dance over the LED floor to create a looping rhythm.

Drum Spheres– Hitting these will record drum loops based on your movements.

Vocal Booth– A microphone records, autotunes and loops your vocals.

Theremin– Your motion is captured and used to bend the pitch of your track.

– A camera on stage will record your movements. This is then combined with your finished track to create a shareable, personalized music video.

Also demonstrated at the Lost In Music pop-up is Sony’s latest multi-dimensional audio technology, which enables visitors to be entirely immersed in a track as it plays around them.

Additionally, guests will be able to get hands-on with the latest Sony products.

Finally, fans can tune in to the Ralph-produced ‘Lost in Music’ weekly online show to watch exclusive sets, interviews and tech highlights. Each episode of the show is available at www.sony.com/lostinmusic.

“It’s been tremendously exciting to work on this year’s Lost In Music campaign, which builds on previous years to really push the limits of what’s possible in terms of creating an immersive, interactive experience for music fans,” said Chris Hassell, Founder at Ralph Creative. “Combined with the live performances and complementary YouTube channel, Sony is able to connect with an extremely wide audience across multiple content and technology types.”

Video now accounts for 25% of US digital ad spend

Services such as Facebook Watch have driven US digital video advertising to new heights in 2018, with spend increasing by almost 30 per cent to $27.8 billion.

The latest figures from eMarketer also indicate that video will make up 25 per cent of all digital ad spend for the year, with Facebook (including Instagram) taking 24.5 per cent of video spend at $6.8 billion.

Moreover, eMarketer says Facebook takes 87 per cent of all US video ad spending on social networks, having experienced particular success with in-feed video ads.

eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said Facebook will likely experience further success with in-stream video ads in Facebook Watch, which appear within the video player in the same way as TV commercials.

Perhaps most interestingly though, YouTube is well behind Facebook in terms of video ad spend, generating ‘just’ $3.4 billion in the US in 2018, up 17.1 percent from 2017.

Twitter is very much the poor relation, generating $633 million from video ads in 2018, while Snapchat will generate $397 million.

Online video viewing to exceed an hour a day this year

The average person will be spending 84 minutes a day watching videos online by 2020, according to the latest forecasts from Zenith.

In that year, China will have the keenest viewers, with the average person spending 105 minutes a day watching online video, followed by Russia (102 minutes) and the UK (101 minutes).

Zenith says this rapid rise in consumption is leading to a significant shift in the way brands plan campaigns across both television and online video.

The research covers 59 markets and encompasses all video content viewed over an internet connection, including broadcaster-owned platforms such as Hulu, ‘over-the-top’ subscription services like Netflix, video-sharing sites, e.g. YouTube, and videos viewed on social media.

Global online video consumption grew by 11 minutes a day in 2017, and we expect it to grow by an average of 9 minutes a day each year to 2020.

It accounts for almost all the growth in total internet use, and is growing faster than media consumption overall, so it is taking consumption time from traditional media.

Although some of this extra viewing is going to non-commercial platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, Zenith says plenty of it is going to commercial platforms, so the supply of commercial audiences is rising rapidly.

In fact, the firm estimates that online video adspend grew 20% in 2017, to reach $27bn. Growth peaked at 36% in 2014 and has fallen steadily since then, but still remains high. It forecasts 19% growth in 2018, and an average of 17% annual growth to 2020, when online video adspend will reach $43bn.

Video’s share of online display advertising is rising steadily: it accounted for 27% of display adspend in 2017, and Zenith expects it to account for 30% in 2020.

Online video advertising is still only a fraction of the size of television advertising, but because television is stuck at 0% to 2% annual growth, this fraction is rising rapidly. The online video ad market was 10% of the size of the television ad market in 2015, and 14% in 2017. By 2020 Zenith expects online video adspend to be 23% of the size of television adspend.

“Online video is driving growth in global media consumption, as smartphones with high-speed data connections make high-quality video available to people on the move, and smart TV sets give viewers unparalleled choice in the living room,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. “The rapid rise in video viewing makes online video the world fastest-growing advertising format, creating new strategic and creative opportunities. Brands that do not currently have a strategy for online video need to think about getting one.”

UK adults consume almost 8 hours of media a day

New figures from the IPA Touchpoints 2017 report show that the average British adult consumes 7 hours and 56 minutes of media a day, with figures showing an increase of 9% from 2016 and 13% from 2005.

2005 saw 79% of adults consume two or more media in the same half hour one a week; that has now risen to 92% in 2017, with 26% of all adults consuming more then three different media in any half hour.

TV and video scored highest with British adults at 4.35 hours, following out-of-home placements at 3.28 hours, and radio and audio coming third at 3.9 hours. Following these came social media (2.53), cinema (2.16), internet (2.14), newsbrands (1.1) and magazines (0.5).

Discussing the report, Sarah Golding, president and chief executive of CHI & Partners, said: “This latest TouchPoints 2017 data proves, unequivocally, that our media consumption patterns are continuing to grow and fragment as technology, new platforms and media channels are delivering an ever wider choice of content, available to us on a 24/7 basis.

“The knock-on effect on our lives – both personally and professionally – cannot be underestimated. As such, this data is invaluable in helping our industry to recognise the most appropriate ways to approach consumers – one that improves lives rather than interrupts.”

TV and video was lower in the 15-34 age group at 98.9%, with figures for social media almost identical.

19% of adults watch Netflix for an average of two hours a week. 38% of adults listen to Spotify each week, this rises to 55% of 15-24s.

Social media accounts for an average of 4.43 hours a week.

The TouchPoints Daily Life data is based on a representative sample of 6,000 adults aged 15+, living in Great Britain. Each respondent keeps a diary detailing their activities on a half hourly basis over a seven day period and completes a questionnaire covering attitudes, product ownership, shopping, media behaviour.

LIFE IS STRANGE: BEFORE THE STORM

Square Enix uses emotive viral video to promote Life Is Strange: Before The Storm

Video games publisher Square Enix has eschewed traditional video games marketing strategy for a disruptive new approach, creating an emotive promo video for its latest game Life Is Strange: Before The Storm.

The three-minute video, entitled An Open Letter, was created by London-based brand experience agency Ralph, which was charged with delivering a creative that reflected the game’s themes of friendship, loyalty and devotion.

The result is an unexpected piece of games marketing far removed from the traditional approach of in-game footage and cut scenes – with the video featuring real people, with real stories of friendship and devotion.

The creative team at Ralph spent many weeks reaching out to pairs of best friends, asking for stories and insights into how their friendship had lasted through even the toughest of times. They were then invited to participate in interviews in New York where they were encouraged to open up about each other on camera.

However, there was a twist. Before coming to the interview, each friend was secretly urged to write a letter to their best friend. Once cameras started rolling, the recipients were asked to read their letters aloud for the first time.

“We took a risk with this strategy and we wouldn’t have achieved the emotion within the video had we not chosen some extraordinary people willing to open their hearts on camera,” admitted Ralph’s Creative Director Gregor Stevenson. “The raw intensity of their reactions as they read their best friends’ innermost thoughts is what we wanted to capture from the start. And that’s what we got. Our goal was to portray each friendship in an engaging and empathetic way, whilst reflecting the authenticity and uniqueness of the characters in the game.”

Square Enix’s Vice President for Brand Marketing Jon Brooke added: “I wanted to capture the emotion and spirit of Life is Strange in a way that you don’t usually see in video game advertising. As a game, it braves to be different, harnessing emotions rarely seen in video games and I wanted the advertising to match this. I am really pleased with how it turned out. It’s designed to remind us that life is all about our relationships and a strong friendship can change everything. I hope everyone can relate to that”.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is the next game in Square Enix’s award-winning, multi-million copy selling, episodic franchise. The eagerly-anticipated game was released on August 31 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

Short videos not always the best for engagement

Video marketing platform TwentyThree has published a new study detailing how people consume video content, with surprising results.

Perviously, many followed the rule that short, concise videos offered more engagement than longer videos.

However, the findings by TwentyThree show that while 80% of the videos produced and shared on social media are under five minutes long, they actually account for less than a third of video engagement.

The study found that videos over 15 minutes in length accounted for 50% of all engagement recorded – but are only 8% of all video content produced.

Sixty-six per cent of people watch an average of 03.56 minutes of video, compared to 23% of people watching videos with an average length of 00.58, and 14% watching videos of an average length of 00:20 on Facebook.

The study also revealed that click-through rates increase by 62% when a video is laced in the thumbnail of an email campaign.

The study was based on feedback from  300 marketing teams, 1.5 million videos, 1.7 billion impressions and 650 million video plays.

Red Bull named 2016’s most sharable brand

Energy drink giant Red Bull has been declared last year’s most sharable brand, according to new figures by Unruly.

As part of Unruly’s annual round-up, the video ad tech company has compiled a list of the top ten video campaigns to be shared on social media throughout the year.

Red Bull failed to even reach the top ten most shared single ads of 2016, with that accolade being awarded to John Lewis’ Buster The Boxer Christmas Campaign.

Instead, the global drinks manufacturer was able to secure first place through a constant stream of released content as the company reportedly uploaded hundreds of videos over the course of the year.

The top three brands shared also included Samsung, followed by McDonald’s. From last year’s second place, Red Bull soared into first this year, beating Samsung’s shares by around 15 million.

“The winners hit the mark by creating highly emotional ads that resonated with viewers,” according to Unruly’s SVP Insights and Marketing, US, Devra Prywes, “we have a truly global list of top brands, many of which created videos specifically for and released in individual territories topping the list.”

Unruly held a ‘virtual award’ ceremony live on Twitter, announcing the winners for a number of categories, including Emotional Ad and Most Inspiring Video, all of which can be viewed here

 

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