We caught up with our creative director Oliver Elmes on the importance of video in any content strategy – as long as it’s tailored to its intended platform.
Video has become a primary way for us to consume content online – why do you think this is?
Video has always been a popular method of viewing anything – all the way back to the first days of cinema and storytelling. Now, it’s tech that’s allowing us to tell stories via video – and obviously being able to watch it on your mobile makes it so easy. It’s the fact that tech has caught up and now we can easily reach people with one of the richest mediums.
What does video bring that words and stills can’t?
There are so many ways to tell a story through videos – you know, different styles and techniques. If an image speaks a thousand words…! It’s a broader medium: not everyone is a reader, but there must be very few people who don’t watch some sort of television or cinema. It’s just exciting, too – there’s no better way of painting a complete picture, particularly for time-poor people who’ll get a whole lot more from it than they would an image.
The virtues for brands are massive, too. You’re not leaving anything up to chance with video – you can manipulate and control every element and paint a truly vivid picture of what that brand is about, whether that’s through the music, the people in it, the colour grade – it’s all bespoke to the brand.
How should video be woven into a content strategy?
Episodic is a proven format, whether that’s for long-form TV programmes or for brands, but obviously the issue with video is that it can be very expensive. So it’s about figuring out how to mass-produce brilliant video content at an acceptable price, but being okay that it might disappear quickly or that it might not perform as well as you’d like without decent media spend behind it. Including video in your content strategy is essential because it’s the best way of storytelling – which is what content is all about.
How do you continue to push the boundaries with video?
I think where Digital Natives differ is that we’re very good at understanding the context in which videos will be played. It sounds so practical, but because we really get the different digital platforms and the way content works, the creative behind that content is much stronger.
When huge agencies make videos, they might not actually fit the platform they’re going on, whereas we tailor each video to the platform. We schedule the day and break it up into sections for different formats – that might be stop motion, portrait video, recipe vids for Instagram, whatever – so each type of video has its section of the day.
We’ve done some really fun work with Instagram video by making it into a game – you have to screenshot a certain part of the video and hashtag to win a prize – so there it’s about taking a format that already exists and bending it so it serves a different purpose. We worked with Just Eat to create a magic cups trick game, which used YouTube pre-roll overlays to allow people to play along and it felt really interactive. When we’re given a brief, we really focus on understanding exactly what the content’s going to be used for and then creating best thing – video or otherwise – for that platform.
What are your favourite pieces of video content you’ve made?
Well, my favourites aren’t necessarily strictly video. So for Accessorize, they have 1800 stores that need to be decorated, so we had to think, ‘What’s the best way of doing that? How do you bring to life the brand proposition in store?’ And the answer was through still photography, so that’s what we did and it was great. With Liz Earle, they have a few stores and concessions but they are on the whole a digital brand with a strong heritage and expertise – and video makes sense to tell those stories. You can visit these exotic locations where they source their ingredients, talk to Liz, speak to an ethnobotanist… You wouldn’t necessarily want to read a three-page article on these different types of botanicals, but you definitely would listen to James Wong talk about how they’ve sourced their ingredients.
We work best when we’re doing a whole content creation piece – so not just video, but when we’re shooting stills, managing social and writing articles, too. It’s always better when you’ve got more of a holistic view.
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