You know the videos I mean – the ones made so the agency can check the box “Cool video complete”. (Of course, many of them aren’t very cool – at least to consumers. But we’ll hold off on that discussion.)
Checkbox work has always been a curse. Before it was video (back in the dark ages of the 1970s and 1980s) it was the checkbox slide show. When I was a client shopping for supercomputers in the 1980s aerospace business, if the salesman brought the slide show or video I’d skip the meeting. My team had learned that these checkbox presentations never communicated what mattered as we evaluated computers.
That was then and this is now. And what used to be merely dull and boring has exploded in that way only the web can make things explode… (It’s amazing how fast bad marketing choices replicate across the web.)
So now, rather than a bad video or two for each company, companies put up petabytes and petabytes of meaningless video while checking a lot of boxes. (And while it’s a curse of the internet, it’s a worse curse when it auto-plays as you arrive on a web page.)
This curse has been driven by a vast number of self appointed “online marketing experts” and “social marketing experts” who preach about video. They report “big numbers” (the big ones that curse us on the web) which are so big they are meaningless. And these experts, backed with big investment money, tell us that “everybody” needs video.
It’s like video is magic pixie dust. Listen carefully to these experts and what you really hear is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s meaningful video.
You just have to check the box.
It’s as if people think video suspends the rules of communication to drive more results than…well…anything…
My Experience With GE Lighting… Consider a video I ran into recently while looking for conference room lighting for our low ceilinged conference room. (A tough challenge – there aren’t nearly as many options as you’d expect.)
Digging around, I discovered a decent looking LED option from GE. And when I arrived on their page (link here), there’s a video. Thankfully, it doesn’t auto-play when I arrive at the page.
Because the page is information starved, I chose to look at the video. And it starts with 30 full seconds of GE drivel… Look at us! We’re brilliant! Creative! Yaaaaawwwwwnnnn….
Fortunately, I didn’t click away as all my instincts told me to. Because buried in the middle of the video are roughly 10 seconds that matter – 10 seconds that give me the “aha!” to realize this might be exactly what we want. Of course, those 10 seconds probably could have been communicated as effectively in static visuals that everybody would see without having to put up with that long, boring, self-serving opening.
But GE checked off their video box. Except as I attempt to locate these fixtures, it’s clear GE’s marketing didn’t work. They’re very hard to find. The checkbox video on the checkbox product page doesn’t seem to drive much demand. Whadda surprise.
Let’s Apply Communication Fundamentals to Video, Too. No marketing material should be checkbox material. And I include video in this – perhaps most of all.
My agency specializes in television advertising, web video, in-store video, and video sent through direct mail. So I love what video can do – what we can achieve that can’t happen anywhere else.
Yet I’m first, and foremost, a communication guy. And nothing bothers me more than blowing your one chance with the consumer by putting the wrong communication in the wrong place because you somehow thought you’d discovered magic pixie dust.
Here’s how I look at it…
On broadcast and cable TV, we have to put everything in video. And it works because we can buy an audience – giving TV that massive ability to drive consumer action that is unparalleled.
On the web, communication needs to be analyzed and broken down into components to deliver it in the BEST way. And that means checkboxes don’t belong on the web. There shouldn’t be checkbox video just like their shouldn’t be checkbox slide shows, checkbox animated GIFs, checkbox animated logos, checkbox…
Every situation is unique. Every situation needs professionals who can make communication come alive by perceiving unique things and delivering them effectively.
So let’s all take a pledge: Drop the checkboxes. It’s time to return to communication strategy and make sure everything we do has a reason that it’s meaningful to the consumer. Only then will your marketing and advertising dollars return the power they should.
Copyright 2015 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved
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