For the past decade or so, digital marketers have thought of content marketing and video advertising as separate realms; video ads are meant to sell customers on a product, while content is meant to naturally attract them with the information they actually want. As illustrative examples of the differences between “inbound” and “outbound” marketing, both content marketing and video advertising have been effective in their respective realms.
Now, video advertisers are learning from content marketing strategies, and are evolving their art in response.
How Video Ads Take Cues From Content Marketing
These are just some of the ways video ads are transforming to incorporate and benefit from key content marketing insights:
- Authenticity. One of the most important factors for a content campaign’s success is its authenticity. Content marketing emerged as a popular marketing strategy, in part, as a response to the insincerity of traditional advertising; ads were seen as insincere and unbelievable because they were clearly developed with the intention to sell a product. When consumers feel like they’re being manipulated or pressured, they stop paying attention. Video producers have learned this lesson, and have since strived for more authentic, personal content.
- Brevity. Though some content marketers do focus on volume, making sure their newsfeeds are constantly full of new content to peruse, conciseness has always been a predictor of success. Short articles do perfectly well so long as they have a central point, and longer articles need to be trimmed down to their most basic components if they’re going to maintain readers’ attentions. Accordingly, video ads have gotten progressively shorter, with some running for just a few seconds before YouTube videos.
- Targeting. With rare exceptions, you can’t write a generalized article and make it appealing to the masses. Instead, you need to thoroughly research your target audience, draft content specifically relevant to them, and make sure to promote it in a place where that audience will find it. Though audience targeting has always been a part of video advertising, today’s video ads are even more specific; if you want to convert an ad viewer into a customer, you need to understand who that viewer is, what their needs are, and where they’ll be most likely to view your ad.
- Value. Content marketing doesn’t sell products. Content marketing provides value to readers, whether that’s in the form of information or entertainment; the sale always comes as an afterthought. Video ads are evolving to favor this approach, and are using similar means to attract more viewers. Today’s ads are funny, insightful, or practically valuable (such as offering immediate discount codes or assistance). A simple request for customers to purchase something isn’t going to stand out.
- Sales avoidance. Again, consumers stop paying attention to provided content when they feel like they’re being manipulated or “sold” on something. Accordingly, video ads have stepped back from using overly aggressive sales language, or dramatic voiceovers to persuade viewers. Instead, they’re using softer, less obvious approaches, and they’re using more direct, transparent methods. They’re showing products in action in such a way to appear unbiased, and take care not to make audiences feel pressured.
Have you noticed these qualities emerging in video ads? Have you noticed the departures from the gimmicky sales tactics of older video ads? It’s no coincidence. Consumers are gravitating toward businesses employing traditional “inbound” tactics like providing value and avoiding pushy sales language; this creates a network of positive reinforcement that encourages more brands to take part.
Blurring the Lines
As these content marketing tactics become more popular on the “advertising” end of the spectrum, we may bear witness to the gradual erasure of the line between inbound and outbound marketing. Tactics like native advertising have started blurring the line in the other direction, allowing content creators to artificially place their content higher in more visible publications.
In any case, the best marketing strategy is the one that incorporates lessons from each area and each tactic, rather than allowing tunnel vision to produce singular—and unimpressive—results. Take lessons from content marketing and apply them to all your marketing and advertising efforts, just as modern video advertisers have done.