Have you noticed how much video there is on the Internet these days? Many of the most popular websites today are populated with tons of different video options for visitors to view.
I’m a sports junkie so ESPN.com is one of my most frequently visited websites. Every time I click on a link to a story I want to read, a video (preceded by a commercial) automatically starts playing once the story page loads.
This is actually kind of annoying for me because I usually don’t want to watch the video (especially the commercial) — I want to read the story. So I have to wait a few seconds for it to load and then hit the pause button before I can start reading the story. Why can’t they set it so the video doesn’t automatically start playing when the page loads?
“The Year of Video Marketing”
According to several articles I read when I Googled “video marketing,” 2015 is “the year of video marketing.” These articles tout lots of statistics about how popular online videos are with web surfers and marketers. For example, one survey found that 65 percent of people who start watching an online video watch more than three-quarters of it. It also says that 70 percent of marketers say that video converts better than other marketing mediums.
According to another survey, about three-quarters of B2B and B2C marketers say they use video marketing. And, of course, there are the statistics about the mind-boggling popularity of YouTube: There are more than one billion YouTube users watching hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube videos, and 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!
This all sounds great from a video marketing PR perspective. But being the skeptic that I am, I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out what’s really going on with video marketing. After all, I make my living writing online content, so if online video is going to be the next big thing, I should probably start thinking about how it might impact my business.
So I called Michael Katz, the founder of Blue Penguin Development, Inc., who is one of the sharpest guys I know when it comes to online marketing. Michael has specialized in helping businesses plan and execute e-newsletter marketing campaigns since 2000.
Another Video Skeptic
As I suspected, Michael’s video marketing skepticism bar is also pretty high — at least when it comes to predictions that video is going to overtake text as the dominant online marketing medium. “All I ever hear is that nobody has any time,” Michael said. “Well, it takes me a lot longer to listen to a three-minute video than it does to read the equivalent amount of text. And you can’t skim a video like you can text to get to what you’re really interested in.”
Another drawback of video that Michael sees is the fact that it’s hard and expensive to do video well. “Sure, it’s easy to shoot videos with your iPhone, but most of these do-it-yourself videos look pretty amateurish,” he said. “It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to produce professional quality video.”
Michael and I both do a lot of writing and ghostwriting for our clients — mainly blogs, e-newsletters and articles. He points out that writing projects are easy for clients to outsource to people like us. “I just do a short phone interview with my client, write the blog or article and then my client reviews and usually approves it — it takes my client 30 minutes or an hour tops. But you can’t really outsource your video — you have to be much more involved in the process.”
Finally, he points out that videos don’t do anything to improve search engine optimization (SEO) results. Well-written, SEO-optimized articles and blogs, on the other hand, are one of the best ways to improve a website’s SEO rankings.
“When it comes to marketing, I think it’s more important that something makes logical sense than just that it’s the latest hot thing,” Michael said. “I can clearly explain to you and prove how a newsletter will help your business, but I haven’t seen a real convincing business case yet for exactly what video marketing is going to do for your business.”
Pick Your Statistic
There are dozens of studies and statistics measuring the effectiveness of all the different kinds of online marketing tools — enough that you can probably find a stat to support whatever you believe. That’s why I usually view such tools through the lens of my own personal experiences.
When it comes to online video, I don’t really watch a lot. Sure, I’ll watch a few videos here and there, but I read FAR more text online than I watch video. As Michael pointed out, reading text is much faster than watching video, and I can easily skim text to get to what I’m really interested in fast.
Am I saying that I think online video is a complete waste of time and money? No, I’m not. I’m sure that video can be used effectively as part of a content marketing program. But I think all this talk about “the year of video marketing” and video overtaking text as the preferred online medium is taking things a little too far.
Now, if anyone knows how to turn off those *%$#! ESPN.com videos, please let me know!