Is video marketing about to break serious new ground?

A recent video by Nike to its customers raised the bar on video marketing.

A recent video by Nike to its customers raised the bar on video marketing.

Lately, I’ve been taking an unofficial survey of friends, co-workers and family—and I’ll ask you the same question I’ve been asking them:

When you watch a video online, what’s the very first thing you look at?

Almost everyone says the same thing.

Our eyes immediately dart to the lower left of the video screen, at the timer. The first order of business is to know how long this video will be. In the nanoseconds that follow, we calculate if the play button we just hit is worth the next 1:28 of our lives. And we either back out or give generously of our limited time on this planet.

Online content is like Darwin on crack. It’s survival of the fittest, not over the course of countless generations, but crushed into a mere few seconds. People perpetually, obsessively assess if stuff is worth their time or what they want. And the fate of all content is ruthlessly decided in the process.

We are all simultaneous judges, jurors and executioners.

This got me wondering: Is video reaching a saturation point?

The follow-up conversations in my unofficial survey reveal another interesting nugget. I’ve heard from a lot of folks—from Millennials in college to grandmotherly types—that the ubiquitous use of video is getting a tad annoying. They don’t always want to watch a damn video every time they click on something. Many say they’d just like to scan an article or graphic and get on with it once in a while.

But the almighty, omnipotent data we all worship suggest otherwise. By all accounts, video is smoking hot. More people are opting to click play than read.

I’ll leave my tiny survey results and the data gods to fight that one out. In the meantime, though, a tasty new dish in video is quickly being lapped up by many of the major brands.

I’m talking about the advent of personalized video. Yes, a video made for you, that meets your needs, and gives you the information you want. And here’s the truly magical part—millions of your fellow consumers would also get their own, custom, eye candy in motion.

Personalized video sounds crazy expensive and hard, but the concept is actually pretty easy to grasp, even for me. Here’s the rough breakdown:

  • You use existing video or have one produced as your core or template.
  • You tap existing data—either from your CRM, or from more public places like Google or LinkedIn—that’s relevant and helpful to a customer.
  • You identify places in the video where you can personalize a message to someone—pulling from the data you have—and edit or tweak accordingly.
  • You distribute the video, via email or some other method.

Personalized video may be the next frontier in this medium. Both video and data are more readily available and less expensive to work with, and there are a growing number of companies out there merging the two pretty effectively.

Let me step out of Theory-land for a minute and give you a concrete example. This past January, Nike sent 100,000 of its customers personalized training videos to inspire them for the New Year. The fitness giant tapped a year’s worth of data uploaded by its top Nike+ Running and Nike+ Training Club customers.

It then created personalized videos for them, entitled, Your Year with Nike+… animated films highlighting their accomplishments and encouraging them to reach for even more this year.

The videos have a crazy cool effect. Nike used basic customer data—like number of miles run, location, weather and more—to create something pretty memorable. A runner in Los Angeles, for example, got a completely different video than a suburbanite near Chicago. Here’s an example of what the videos look like:

I don’t know about you, but I would have been a total sucker for something like this. Here’s why:

  • If I was a Nike+ customer (I’m not), I would likely be open to any communications from the company, especially if I was an active user of its products. Opt-in = presto!
  • The video’s timing was perfect. In January, everyone thinks about reinvention, what they want to accomplish and more. It was content that connected at the right time. And it was brilliant.
  • Nike knows its customers. Fitness enthusiasts of this level are very goal driven. I keep meticulous records of the miles I cover on my bike every year, my speed, etc. Having all that data wrapped up in a fun, one-minute video is something that would have been valuable to me. It was an intensively creative way to connect.
  • It was emotional. As I’ve written about many times, marketing is emotion first. This little video is inspirational and encouraging—you feel like you’ve accomplished something and someone noticed.

My guess is, when Nike’s customers got this video, they may have glanced down at the video timer to see how long it was. But they didn’t do that the multiple times they’ve watched it since.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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