The Digital Anthropologist: Vidyard’s Michael Litt on Video’s Comeback

Michael Litt was founder and CEO of Vidyard in 2013. This article originally appeared in The Advertising Tech Review in 2013.

Michael Litt is the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard, a video marketing platform. Michael is passionate about content marketing and changing the way we engage and purchase with video. Michael discussed the impact video innovations have had on the digital marketing ecosystem.

Let’s talk about video’s rise – we are seeing a major shift in how brands view the medium. What do you see on the horizon for marketers in video’s future?

Marketers are very aware of the benefits of video. It’s innately compelling, extremely persuasive, and highly sharable. While everybody’s intentions are good, marketers are still in the mind frame that each video needs to be a million dollar Super Bowl Commercial. This isn’t the case, especially in the B2B space. In terms of video related challenges, the focus has shifted from production to video performance. Everybody has a 1080p camera in their pockets, so production isn’t the big deal anymore, it’s whether you’re making videos that can be tied to overall ROI.
Additionally, In terms of the future, every major company will have a video producer in-house. If I told you in 2006 that every company was going to have someone focused on social or community, you’d have told me I was crazy, but companies have been producing massive in-house video libraries to meet customer expectations for a while now and it’s growing steadily so we’ll see much the same focus happening in the video world as we saw happen in the social world. The future of video is all about finding ways to make video marketing increasingly scalable, measuring viewer engagement, and connecting your video marketing to ROI.
Based on it’s high-engagement factor- it’s the next best thing to being there to sell in person- video is already a valued form of content marketing up there with white papers, blog posts, infographics, etc. The difference is that it’s measurable. While you can’t pinpoint what content users found especially compelling in a white paper, you can visually see attention span data for video with analytics and constantly refine your content plan as a result. This is the kind of feedback that’s critical for the future of content in general.

Your company recently announced a collaboration with ExactTarget. What’s been happening in email- and how is this medium changing in the face of so many developments in other spaces?
Email is always going to be at the core of any marketing organization’s communication strategy, however, the unfortunate reality is that email has become noisy. Open and click-through rates are on the demise, so marketers need to get creative with subject lines and content to ensure their message is received. That said, video adds an entirely new, interactive element to email. The play button has proven its value time and time again to be the most compelling graphic within email campaigns. Our customers have seen a 63% lift in CTR in email campaigns by adding a video thumbnail with a play button manually, so we made the entire process even easier with our new integration with ExactTarget. The app, now available in the ExactTarget HubExchange, lets you to drag and drop compelling visual links to your video content into your emails and subsequently track in-depth analytics on who views that video and their overall attention span. It’s a great tool for email marketers to really see how their content performs and provide a really compelling email experience.

Brand marketers are faced with so many choices – what are some key concepts to keep in mind when evaluating a medium like video when building long-term strategy?

When evaluating a long-term strategy, consistency and frequency are key when it comes to video marketing. First, eliminate any production hang-ups you’re experiencing and just create content. Use the camera on your smartphone or invest in a $1000 studio kit and start recording content today. The only way to nail standard content marketing is to work out that writing muscle, and the same goes for video. Produce, produce, produce, then analyze, analyze, analyze, then rinse and repeat! Second, you need to consider whether you’re at the point where you would benefit from a video marketing platform. Video marketing platforms not only give you a place to store and manage all of your video assets but they also give you access to critical viewer engagement data and they let you do cool things like split test thumbnails to improve CTR among many other amazing features. Figure out what’s working and use the viewer engagement feedback from your leads to perfect your message.

Marketers need tools that make their campaigns more engaging and measurable. Can you give us an example of how your company’s products are making analytics and campaign-building better from a user-experience perspective?
Our platform enables marketers to optimize campaigns with quick-to-implement features and our slick analytics centre presents information in a really visual, easy-to-understand format. With engagement data that’s easy to interpret, marketers can start gaining insight about customers right away and begin following up with more qualified leads. Our analytics centre and dashboard are both very intuitive to use and, in terms of features, all video optimization options are quick to build into any campaign. Take for instance our A/B split testing feature which allows marketers to split test their splash screens. This is a simple, fast way to increase your CTR by determining which image customers are most likely be compelled to interact with. Also, we make it possible to customize your player to match your web-design and brand. This means marketers can eliminate distractions such as irrelevant logos, ads, or content found on external hosting sites, and take more control over the viewing experience on their own turf. Moreover, our video calls-to-action allow marketers to provide viewers with a means of gaining more self-serve, on-demand information so that they can travel down the marketing funnel on their own at their own pace. We know that this is how the empowered customer likes to encounter information from brands and we’re helping marketers deliver content based on this preference. Overall, we show marketers the critical engagement data that helps to improve content marketing efforts. It’s clear from both attention span heatmaps and analytics what’s working and what’s not and marketers can easily adjust their strategy to suit customer feedback. If they notice, for example, that viewers drop off after 3 minutes, they can ensure the next set of videos they produce are under the 3 minute mark for optimum attention span. It’s all about discovering trends with analytics and then designing the best viewing experience possible.

Michael Litt is the CEO and Founder of Vidyard. Follow him on Twitter

You may also like

By