The Art of the Branded Video



By Elisha Hartwig

Marketers can become obsessed with video view counts and completion rates — and for good reason. Videos are expensive and time-intensive to create, so they want to make sure they’re getting ROI. Creating a branded video that shares well and resonates with your audience requires a finely honed skillset, and it’s easier said than done.

Video views and completion rates are important metrics for marketers to use when evaluating how compelling and effective a brand’s message is. When analyzing your video views and completion rates remember the distinction between the two — views measure the content people think seems interesting, whereas video completion denotes the content people actually enjoyed, says Cathy Gribble, associate director of digital analytics at Team One.

When you make a video, consider the following: What makes someone watch a video until the end? What’s your end goal, and what type of video would most successfully achieve your objective?

For marketers embarking on your first branded video campaign, or others who want to maximize video views and completion rates, we’ve got you covered. Read on below for three tips to help you determine which video format works best for you, and how to make sure your message resonates with your audience.

1. Leverage Timely Content

When developing video campaigns, it’s important to keep in mind events scheduled to happen around the time of your video launch. Pepsi created a five-minute Uncle Drew video featuring buzzworthy NBA star Kyrie Irving, and uploaded it two days after he received the 2012 Rookie of the Year award, leveraging the excitement. Sam Duboff, then the brand marketer for Pepsi Max, told AdAge, “Once we started looking at the metrics, it became clear that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to bring Uncle Drew to the biggest stage” and the viral video then aired on TV during the NBA playoffs, in 30-second spots. These TV ads weren’t part of the initial campaign, but the brand quickly realized it made more sense to piggyback off an existing successful asset, so budgets were reallocated accordingly, getting millions more eyeballs on the content. The video now has almost 30 million views and spurred two other chapters in the Uncle Drew saga.



In order to determine opportunities for your brand to leverage timely content, start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Can your brand participate in a larger conversation while still achieving your marketing objectives?
  • What events make sense for your brand to be around? What can you add to the dialogue?

From the Oscars and VMAs to the Super Bowl and SXSW, there are hundreds of events where your brand can assert its creative viewpoint, and there’s plenty of talent to draw on. It’s a marketers job to determine which are appropriate for your brand and will help you reach your ultimate objectives.

2. Choose the Best Format

Once you’ve decided to invest in video for your brand’s messaging — the next question is what form of video to use.

1. 30-Second Spot: A recent study found that 80% of online video is less than one minute long, so the 30-second spot is a clear favorite. It’s a length consumers are used to, since most commercials are 30 seconds, and it doesn’t demand too much of a viewer’s time.

2. Product Tutorial: A product tutorial or demo video is a great way to provide value to your users. Birchbox, the beauty subscription service, produces “how-to” videos to help users learn beauty tips and tricks for the items in each Birchbox, so the videos double as ads for the products.

3. Longform: When you’ve got a long message to share, and a 30-second spot just isn’t cutting it, longform might be your best option. An longer video, like the Uncle Drew series discussed above, is a great way to build affinity for your brand, with the added bonus of subtle product placement. Don’t worry about the length of your video significantly affecting your video completion rate — although 80% of online video is less than one minute long, length doesn’t seem to be a major factor for completion rates. Matevz Klanjsekhe, co-founder of Celtra, the company that conducted the study, said the length of the video doesn’t have much effect on the performance. “Users typically drop off in the first couple of seconds or tend to watch the video until the end if it proves interesting enough,” says Klanjsekhe. So don’t be too put off by a longer video if you need the length to get your message across. If you create something compelling and noteworthy that offers surprise and delight, you can generate organic buzz and shareability for the content — that social proof can compel people to endure a longer video.

3. Don’t Be Too Branded

There’s nothing that turns off a customer more than an overtly promotional video. You aren’t going to see people sharing a video in which a brand talks about how awesome they are — instead, a video with informative, entertaining or touching content will garner shares. An excellent example of a lightly branded video is Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches.

The three-minute ad encourages women to change their perspective on how they view themselves, and it has become the third most-shared ad of all time with more than 114 million views in 25 different languages. And there isn’t mention of Dove until the very end — so consumers might not even know it’s branded unless they watch the entire video.

“Video completion is a metric we use internally to help gauge how compelling the creative asset is and helps us rate our own performance,” says Kathryn Fokides, a Dove brand manager, who says Dove assets are typically longer than standard 30-second spots. “Since we don’t put a lot of paid media and advertising behind our Dove equity assets (usually just some Facebook and paid search terms), we care most about time spent and video views and completion, rather than purchase conversation or costs per engagement.”

HelloFlo’s Camp Gyno video is another excellent video, though this one uses humor and a sassy tween to deliver the message.

Better yet, it was a $6,000 video that essentially launched the business as a female answer to Dollar Shave Club, another brand that set the benchmark for branded video.

Why Do These Metrics Matter?

In addition to measuring how compelling your brand’s content is, and how effectively you are communicating your message, view videos and completion rates are important metrics because they demonstrate how engaged and captive your audience is. The people who enjoy the videos your team creates can quickly turn into brand ambassadors who share the content and tell all of their friends to watch it. A video that resonates with your audience helps build brand affinity, and will get people talking about your brand. When it comes time to make a purchase, are you going to be thinking about Dove or Irish Spring?

It’s also helpful to use video benchmarking to learn where consumers are jumping ship. “We use video benchmarking to see how far people are getting through the video, knowing that many people stop watching once they have gotten the information or experience they were looking for,” says Gribble. Marketers can then use that data to inform future video production decisions.

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