Welcome to the first days of fall. For most e-commerce marketers, fall means finalizing budget requests for 2011, before the full-tilt holiday shopping season.
In comparing 2010 budget planning to 2011, there are some stark contrasts. First, and most importantly, the tight budget conversations from 2009 have loosened up, as the economy starts to show the smallest of green shoots.
But, more dramatic is the continued shift in user behavior on the internet – away from consuming more text content, and dramatically toward time spent on social networking and video.
In fact, bandwidth for online video now accounts for more than 50% of all of web traffic.
- YouTube continues to grow at a rapid clip – showcasing 2 billion clips per day in May (compared to “just” 1 billion in October, 2009).
- More than 50% of internet users watch online video, according to the The Pew Center for the Internet and Public Life
- View time is increasing 12 minutes per month, bringing total view time to over 4.5 hours per month.
So, given this shift in user preferences and expectations toward video content, marketers must include online video needs in their 2011 budget. Here are the main budget categories to consider:
Production costs might be simply graphic design overlays to put your own branding on to existing brand product videos. Or they might be $100 for a Flip camera, and a bunch of time over lunch hours with your existing team. Or it might mean adding on web exclusives to your existing TV spot shoots. Or it might mean separate webisodes with full creative talent.
Getting video content created is a brave new world for online marketers. Some take the reins and create all their own content. Others work with creative agencies for a cohesive creative vision, and also the production and operations expertise. In this case, the production budgets will be outlined by your creative agency, and you can just roll up these line items under “agency services.”
Regardless of how big or small your production possibilities, understanding all of the possible line items in a production budget will help you justify your own request to the Finance office.
- Writing: Even if your videos are unscripted interviews, you will need someone to write questions. Consider who will write your video content now, to avoid surprises later.
- Production and Direction: If you are shooting your own video, someone will need to coordinate production, and someone will need to be in charge. If you’re using existing assets, someone may still need to re-cut, re-brand, add a CTA, or otherwise alter already shot footage.
- Talent: Even when there is no hard cost involved, make sure you account for the time it will take for in-house resources to appear on camera. Also, plan for camera operators in order to have quality assets to use.
- Equipment Purchase/Rental: Cameras, lighting, wardrobe, props, locations. This may be a big fat zero, but it never hurt to put a zero on a budget spreadsheet to show how you’ve already trimmed the fat.
- Music and Stock Footage: If you are using assets that your organization already owns, you’re in the clear. But sometimes stock footage can be an inexpensive way to create higher quality content.
- Editing and Graphics: You’ll need to get raw footage transformed into a finished video product. That’s where you’ll need an editor, A/V suite or studio, and some graphic support to finalize a video.
Now that you have planned to create your video content, the next step is getting it integrated to your website, and other locations. There are several important components to ensuring consistent delivery of online video.
If you have a large in-house team, you may be able to share this responsibility between the Marketing and IT departments. It may be more efficient, though, to forgo building out infrastructure and expertise, and instead work with an online video delivery platform. Either way, make sure you understand all of your distribution needs.
- File Formatting and Preparing: Because of the current patchwork of online video standards, you’ll need to plan for the right technology to get your video assets converted and prepared for users to view them. A broken video is worse than no video at all, so this step is important. Know the shifting technical specs, or partner with someone that does.
- Bandwidth and Delivery: Quality, consistent delivery of bandwidth-intense online video is crucial for e-commerce. Any lag, outage, downtime, or buffering will encourage users to abandon their purchase consideration. So, you want to over-plan on this line item. Don’t get caught short when your video goes viral.
- Page Design and Element Integration: If you do not already have video on your site, you will need to experiment with placement and consider the impact on your existing site design. If you already have video on your site, you may need to consider expanding it to new areas (product pages, category pages, special promotion landing pages, etc).
Measurement and Analytics
Of course, anything digital is trackable, and video is no different. If you are going through the effort of putting video on your site, make sure it is creating the maximum impact by measuring throughout the year, and testing a variety of content, placements, usages, and goals. Here again, your in-house optimization expert may be able to add this into their regular routine. But, since there are different user behaviors with video content than other types of content (e.g., time-stamped abandonment), some outside expertise may be required.
- Revised Testing and Optimization Plans: Review your current optimization process, and adjust as necessary for video content. Consider all of the variables that are unique to video, but add richness and insight into your understanding of your user.
- Additional Ongoing Reporting: Pulling together a bunch of new reports, and interpreting them, will surely add hours to your optimization team. Make sure you plan for this now.
- Measurement Platform/Tagging: If you are using your existing analytics package, make sure you have all tags properly implemented for tracking. If you are using a third party video analytics package, make sure that data can roll in to your existing reporting infrastructure.
Clearly, there is a lot to consider for 2011 budget planning. But, that’s why we start well in advance. Are there other line items you like to include for video? Please let me know in the comments.