Want to Do Digital Video Right? Canada’s Marketers Stress Storytelling

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Digital video consumption in Canada has grown sharply over the past few years, and advertisers and marketers are taking notice, according to a new eMarketer report, “Canada’s Digital Video Market: Audience Data, Ad Spending Estimates and Marketing Trends.”

As a rule, marketing executives are comfortable with digital video because of its resemblance to TV, its measurability and the fact that it has been available for years now—unlike some other types of digital inventory.

The “9th Annual BrandSpark Canadian Marketers Survey” released in June 2014 reinforces marketers’ increasing support for digital video. Nearly half of the marketing executives polled said they would increase spending on video in the next 12 months.

Whereas video ads tell a story in sound bites, original content production using video affords marketers the ability to weave more complex tales. The term “storytelling” is hot. It’s what “viral” was to marketing five years ago and what the term “guerilla” is to marketers with poor budgets.

Original content isn’t cheap. Production costs—whether in-house or via an agency—are often the largest barrier to project approval. But if done well, the benefits can exceed return on investment expectations immeasurably.

“Over the last few years, there’s been a shift toward better funding videos that are created for online distribution solely,” said Sandy Fleischer, managing partner at Pound & Grain, a Vancouver-based digital agency. “There is still a prevalent attitude that the smaller the screen, the smaller the budget. But we’ve started to see opportunities for increased production dollars on the video side when it’s called for.”

Several original videos from marketers have captured Canada’s consumers’ interest. TD Bank’s Automated Thanking Machine video, launched July 25, attracted close to 10 million views within three weeks of launch. WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video has generated almost 37 million views since its December 2013 release.

The video allowed WestJet to reach a huge international audience. While international marketing is secondary to efforts in its core market, the benefit of generating buzz widely, especially in the US, is apparent to WestJet.

“You used to do a PR stunt just for the PR. Now you do the PR stunt for the PR, and then you can tell the story through social media, and it can live longer and continue to grow,” said Corey Evans, WestJet’s manager of sponsorship and community investment.

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