Corporate videos put employees in the frame

Many people use YouTube and Facebook to achieve “15 minutes of fame” in their personal lives by making videos about their interests and enthusiasms. Now employers are encouraging them to do the same at work.

Reality TV has been a big influence, and everyone wants to be on camera now, says Vern Hanzlik, executive vice-president of Qumu, a video management software company. “Video is becoming a much more mainstream method of internal communications for companies, from the chief executive to junior employees,” he adds.

This was borne out in an international survey of 300 companies in February and March this year by Kaltura, another video management software company. Some 70 per cent of respondents said they regard video as essential for internal communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration.

More than three-quarters agreed that video provides a “nearly in-person” experience, making messages powerful in a way that written communication cannot and helping connect geographically divided employees.

The problem is video’s voracious appetite for bandwidth and storage space. “Video clogs up corporate networks, so you need the infrastructure for intelligent routing and streaming,” says Mr Hanzlik. This is the aim of products such as Qumu and Kaltura.

Bayer piloted Qumu last year when it held a singing contest to celebrate its 150th anniversary. It invited employees to upload videos of their performances to its corporate network, assess each other’s rendering of the specially commissioned song, share their favourites and vote for winners.

The contest was a huge success, attracting 200 entries and 680,000 viewings, says Thomas Helfrich, Bayer’s global head of social media. “It was unbelievable to see how excited contestants were, and the venues and styles they came up with,” he says.

“There were entries from more than 50 countries, including China, Mexico, Machu Picchu and the oldest stadium in Uruguay.” But they comprised 100 terabytes of data and there was no way Bayer’s existing network would have been able to cope.

Qumu handled the task so smoothly that Bayer has since adopted it for all its videos. Philips had similar success with Kaltura last November, when it asked employees to make videos of what the company’s brand meant to them.

The aim was to build staff awareness of Philips’ three businesses – healthcare, consumer/lifestyle and lighting. Again there was an enthusiastic response, says Paul Osgood, Philips’ head of internal communications.

A Philips employee in Brazil filmed himself cycling through São Paulo, contrasting a dingy and deserted neighbourhood, which felt dangerous, with a brightly-lit street where people were partying on the pavement. A female employee in the US made a video demonstrating how different her headphones made her life while jogging.

“People loved watching the videos and they went viral,” Mr Osgood says, but without Kaltura this could have brought down the Philips network. The software also lets Philips integrate the videos with its in-house TV channel, so that they can be viewed on TV screens by people working in factories where they do not have PCs.

Video management software makes the approvals process much more efficient, says Bayer’s Mr Helfrich. Many Bayer videos have to be checked for compliance and intellectual property issues such as copyright, patents and trademarks.

The software also provides better security than ad hoc systems built in-house. This was important at Bayer, where videos need to be stored securely for legal reasons and to ensure data privacy. “We wanted an application we could run in a protected environment with access restricted to employees,” Mr Helfrich says.

Ease of use is crucial for such software to be adopted widely across an organisation. The simplicity of Qumu meant that some 25,000 people had largely taught themselves how to use it by the end of the contest.

“We invested nothing in training beyond making a short online tutorial,” Mr Helfrich says. “It involved far less effort and education than usual when introducing new software.”

The next big step with corporate video, says Mr Osgood, will be giving staff access to it on their mobile phones. In the Kaltura survey, 75 per cent of respondents said that the ability easily to include video in corporate emails, social media and instant messaging would play an important role in the near future.

Employers are becoming much more receptive to the idea of their staff making and sharing videos, says Michal Tsur, Kaltura’s president and co-founder. “Three years ago, managers worried that employees might say the wrong thing, so their focus was on moderating, patrolling and reporting tools,” Mr Tsur says.

“But there has been a change in culture towards empowering employees. Organisations are recognising that communication need not be just top down, but can be bottom up, and that employees may have information that chief executives do not.”

Organisations have also realised that videos can help identify talent, spot charismatic employees and get more information from and about them, Mr Tsur says.

All this may be good for employees wanting to raise their profile at work. But as with other online activities, they would do well to check what they might subsequently be able to remove, should circumstances alter. Otherwise people may find their “fame” lasting longer than they bargained for.

Reeldeahd and nowhouse created OfficeBlink a unique corporate video format.  We successfully produced a series of video insights in these companies that was used for recruitment and social media. Would you like to learn more about how corporate video can help your company then please contact



Where Branded Content Dollars Are Going; Publishing companies gain share, ad agencies shrink [Survey]

Marketers continue to be in love with their own content. Spending on branded content is set to reach $1.8 million this year, or 37 percent of marketers’ ad budgets, up from $1.7 million in 2012, per a Custom Content Council survey.

The lion’s share of that is going into print. Spending on publications rose the most of three measured categories in 2013, to just over $1 million from $775,000 in 2012. Spending on electronic content was up 13.8 percent to $574,490 and spending on other content shrank to $264,423.

That would seem to bode ill for magazines. Seventy-three percent of respondents said branded content is better than magazine ads, a sizable increase over 2012, when 66 percent said so. Sixty-three percent said branded content was superior to TV advertising, 62 percent favored branded content to direct mail, and 59 percent said it trumps public relations.

One big question for marketers is whether to outsource their content creation or generate it in-house. Forty percent of respondents said they’re doing some outsourcing, down from 56 percent in 2012. But those who are only outsourcing are doing bigger projects, spending an average of more than $1 million this year, up 5.5 percent.

Those marketers are increasingly bypassing traditional ad agencies for other types of firms to handle their content creation. Magazine publishers who may be losing ad dollars to branded content seem to be making it up on the custom content side. The biggest recipient of outsourcing is publishing firms, which got 36 percent of that spending, up from 32 percent last year. Design firms and ad agencies saw their shares shrink. PR/marketing firms’ share rose slightly, and interactive firms’ share was flat.

Branded Content raises purchase intent [Study]

Branded content, or its hyped cousin, native advertising, is supposed to combat ad fatigue when consumers are bombarded with ads all day, everywhere. The problem is measuring effectiveness. With no agreement on how to measure native (much less how to define it), it’s no surprise that publishers are eager to prove that native advertising, with its promise of premium rates, works.

Thus comes a new study by IPG Media and commissioned by Forbes Media that’s hoping to make the case for the format. IPG surveyed 2,259 participants from and showed them Web pages from the site containing branded content from ads in three verticals (auto, liquor and financial services).

Those looking at pages with branded content were 41 percent more likely to express an intent to buy the brand versus those who saw a regular Web page with no branded content. Similarly, those who saw branded content were 28 percent more likely to have a favorable view of the brand, the research, which IPG is publishing later today, showed.

Mark Howard, CRO of Forbes Media, said the study’s major takeaway for him was that the findings about how branded content can change a brand’s perception complement the traditional publishing metrics that Forbes uses in measuring the campaigns using its 3-year-old BrandVoice platform.

“It begins to answer that question, ‘how well does branded content work for brands to be able to forge a relationship with an audience?’ and ‘how does that dialogue begin to shift perceptions?'” Howard said. “We know it has impact, but we haven’t been able to quantify it before.”

The study also considered native advertising in its different iterations. When consumers saw branded content that was paired with a display ad from the same brand, they were more likely to recall the brand than if they had looked at a page that had branded content with no display ad at all.

Interestingly, though, adding a display ad to a page that had branded content didn’t help with purchase intent. Howard believes that might be because the brands measured (Chrysler, Woodford Reserve and Charles Schwab) are in categories where the path to purchase is long.

The study also looked at attitudes towards branded content depending on where it’s published. In a finding that will likely encouragement to publishers all over, the study showed that readers were 41 percent more likely to share branded content when they read it on versus on the brand’s own site.

It’s tempting to conclude that content, even branded, is seen by readers as more trusted and shareworthy if it originated on a premier publisher’s site versus a brand’s. But did those sharing branded content from know it was created by the brand as opposed to Forbes editorial staff? (Some publishers, Forbes included, have been accused of confusing readers by dressing up ads as editorial content.)

Howard admitted it’s possible, as survey participants weren’t expressly told that the content came from the brand, “but we go to great lengths to make sure it’s all transparently labeled on the site.”

So could native advertising be hitting a wall?

Marketers and publishers continue to fall all over themselves to create messaging that doesn’t look like advertising and that doesn’t annoy the reader. But the format is facing growing pains.

“Agencies aren’t ready to turn on a dime and do this,” Rey Peralta, svp, director of creative technology at Deutsch, New York, said during a panel discussion last week hosted by Livefyre. “Everyone has to get in the same room. It’s incredibly challenging.”

Jordan Kretchmer, founder and CEO of Livefyre, which acts as a middleman between publishers and advertisers by amplifying social conversation about brands across the Web, also pointed the finger at agencies. Seeing as they work on native ads for no extra money and are not set up to corral all those who need to be involved in the process, agencies “currently aren’t incentivized to really push for native ads and, therefore, are many times the blocker in getting a native campaign pushed through,” Kretchmer responded in an email. The process is ineffective and needs to change, he added.

Like agencies, clients often aren’t structured to take on native, often finding it is easier and faster to buy programmatic ads.

This friction is a problem for digital publishers that are banking on native and other premium-priced ad formats to stem the rush of ad dollars to lower-CPM programmatic ads. For marketers, it’s a chance to move beyond the hated banner ad and create messaging that’s more engaging.

It also doesn’t help that there’s no agreement on what native advertising is or on how to measure its effectiveness. And that’s before the content itself is even created, a process that by its nature is fraught because the ad has to serve the advertiser without annoying the reader.

The lack of a universally agreed-upon definition of native advertising is a drag on the process and can lead to missed opportunities.

Peralta recalled one case in which Deutsch handled the creative and another agency, Starcom MediaVest, did media planning. “There was nothing to point to and say, ‘This is what we’re doing,’” he said. “I had to get on 20 phone calls a day to explain it to all the partners.”

“We need to make it easier for our sellers to understand,” added Adam Solomon, vp of digital ad products and services at Time Inc.

For all its roadblocks, there seems to be agreement that native advertising isn’t just the flavor of the month. In a recent survey, 73 percent of Online Publishers Association members said they offer native ads, with the potential to reach 90 percent by year’s end.

The Top Branded Video Ad Campaigns for May 2013

April was always going to be a tough act to follow.  Last month’s record-breaking chart saw Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’, Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’ and Evian’s ‘Baby & Me’ dominating talk across the social web – the first time ever that three commercials from the same month have also featured in the top 20 most shared ads of all time.

Created by Ogilvy Mather and attracting more than 738,000 shares during May, Dove’s record-breaking “Sketches” campaign – now the most viewed and the third most shared ad of all time – retained its number one spot last month.

Evian’s dancing toddlers are also showing no signs of fatigue, moving up one place to second, while Kmart’s Ship My Pants’ fifth spot – and the success of its follow-up campaign, ‘Big Gas Savings’ – proved people are not tired of hearing haulage-based puns…just yet.

However, some new campaigns made it on to May’s top 20, including four for Samsung’s new smartphone, the S4.

The most popular video of the quartet promotes the new Sound & Shot feature, which brings a totally different meaning to the phrase, “a picture says a thousand words”. In fact, the S4 goes one better – by also being able to speakConfused? Let me explain. You see, Sound & Shot allows you to record sounds with your photos.

So when you are traveling and you want to share your experiences with friends or family back home, they can now enjoy not only the sights but the sounds of your travel destination. Whether they plan to add smell to your pictures in the near future is unclear.

The ad brings this to life with a touching story of a mother and her globe-trekking son keeping in touch through this fun new product. It certainly did the trick, attracting 572,739 shares last month, making it the third most shared ad during May.

But it wasn’t just the Sound & Shot feature that had people talking about the new S4 last month.

In 14th position is a video which showcases another S4 feature, ‘Group Play’which allows you to play your music on your friends’ phones, while seven places above that is ‘Hands On’, a 13-minute walkthrough of all of the new S4 features and product specs.

Of course, it seems no Samsung Mobile launch is complete these days without at least one jab in the ribs of its biggest rival, Apple.

The South Korean tech giant did the same thing last year to help launch the S3. The Next Big Thing Is Already Here, created by 72AndSunny, was a hugely successful milestone campaign launched in September which brilliantly lampooned the cult of Apple, portraying its fans as mindless groupies.

Although not quite as popular, ‘Graduation Pool Party’ – in which the out-of-touch parents are the ones with what suspiciously looks like iPhones while the teens are the ones with the cool new S4s – is another biting attack on Samsung’s fiercest competitor.

The message of the video is summed up in one quote, uttered by the granddad. He says, “So what you are saying is some smartphones are smarter than others. So what are we doing with these phones?” 

It’s a message that certainly resonated across the social web last month. The ad attracted more than 82,000 shares during May, putting it in 19th position.

Microsoft even got in on the act last month, releasing an ad for its new Windows phone, the Nokia Lumia, which attacked both Samsung and Apple fans. It was a bold move, but one which paid off, with the commercial managing more than 220,000 shares last month, putting it in 12th spot.

Another video to boldly go into the upper reaches of the Unruly Viral Video Chart last month was Audi’s ‘The Challenge’, which pitted two actors who have played Spock in Star Trek – Zachary Quinto and the legendary Leonard Nimoy – against each other in a battle over who can get to the golf club quicker.

Admittedly, driving to the golf course is not as exciting as say a fight over who has the better Vulcan death grip, but then two Spocks for the price of one – how could any self-respecting sci-fi fan resist? And so it proved – with the ad’s 566,013 shares last month putting it in fourth.

The ad also benefited hugely from being released when excitement around the release of the new Star Trek into Darkness movie was at its zenith.

However, the real success of this ad is that you don’t have to be a die-hard Trekkie to enjoy it. Sure, there are no doubt a number of in-jokes that whistled past my head faster than a spaceship in warp speed, but that didn’t matter.

The banter between the two very likeable and popular actors is very entertaining and the pay-off was worth sticking around for.

Other ads to feature in this month’s top 20 include a couple of Mother’s Day spots from P&G and Nivea, the ‘World’s Smallest Movie’, created by IBM, another hilarious local commercial from Rhett & Link and three videos promoting the most highly-anticipated video games of the year – Call of Duty: Ghosts and Grand Theft Auto 5.

Top 20 most shared ads during May 2013 (Facebook, Twitter and blogs)

1. Dove: Real Beauty Sketches – 738,150

2. Evian: baby&me – 641,070

3. Samsung: Galaxy S4 – Sound & Shot – 572,739

4. Audi: Zachary Quinto vs Leonard Nimoy – The Challenge – 566,013

5. Kmart: Ship My Pants – 463,904

6. Activision: Call of Duty – Ghosts Reveal Trailer – 415,988

7. Samsung: Galaxy S4 – Hands-on – 304,422

8. Activision: Call of Duty – Ghost Masked Warriors – 297,044

9. Kmart: Big Gas Savings – 296,003

10. Nivea: Mama – 280,145

11. Samsung: Usain Bolt – 228,044

12. Microsoft: Switch To The Nokia Lumia – 220,765

13. Arlen’s Transmission Centre: Shift It – 215,836

14. Samsung: Group Play – 202,642

15. IBM: A Boy And His Atom – 177,455

16. Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto V – 176,903

17. Melbourne Metro: Dumb Ways To Die – 175,033

18. P&G: Maria & Eunice Shriver – The Gift My Mother Gave Me – 97,994

19.Samsung: S4 Graduation Pool Party – 82,237

20. Red Bull: Mad Mike – 75,232

Study shows; Video Becomes Most Popular Medium for Branded Content

Video And Branded Content Marketing: It’s Getting Bigger

A new study by ContentWise and the Custom Content Council shows what some of us have become to realize for a while: companies are finding video to be a valuable tool in their business for content marketing.  And of all the resources in content marketing, video is showing the largest increase of any other medium.

Graph, courtesy of

54% of the respondents in this study plan to do more video.  Everything else is either increasing or decreasing slightly, or with no change whatsoever.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that video has room to grow and other digital content areas have basically been maxed out.  There’s not much you can do with e-mail anymore.

But also, with video, with the emergence of all the different networks like YouTube and their tremendous reach is growing because video is uniquely powerful in a way that these other forms of content only wish they could be.  Videos are entertainment, the branding can be non-intrusive if done the correct way, and they sell a brand with sight and sound rather than descriptions or static pictures.

The rise of video that went from being used only slightly in 2009 to more than half the companies feeling the need to get into video or increasing their interest in it within 2 years. It seems branded video’s are going to be big and here to stay.