Broadcast, cablecast, simulcast, webcast, podcast, vodcast, mobilecast — the melding of the realms of “lean back” (TV) and “lean in” (Web) technology can mean coming attractions for business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications and video news generation — if done straight-up, i.e., correctly and transparently.
Part 1 of this three-part series looks at how B2B enterprises can sharpen their public relations chops by engaging Web 2.0 communities. Part 2 explores marketing 2.0. Part 3 looks at the specific marketing and PR opportunities present in Internet-based TV.
Narrowcast B2B Web video programming has completely changed the old TV newsroom paradigm, and in doing so has affected the role of the Web as a business news forum along with the way that companies relate to online media in telling their stories and selling their products and services.
“The concept of broadcast TV is on borrowed time,” said Philip Sheldrake, director of digital agency Racepoint UK.
“Video over IP and associated technologies enable time-, place- and device-shifted viewing — video when and where you want it,” Sheldrake told the E-Commerce Times. “When married to the dramatic reduction in video production costs of recent years, niche B2B video programming is becoming an economically viable option for the first time. This is narrowcast. This is targeted.”
Old Media/New Habits
Moving pictures might be great for engaging an audience, but regular access to the visual electronic medium of television news has historically been available to only a special few industries like entertainment and sports. Coverage of the general business world is left to cable channels like CNBC, Bloomberg Television and Fox Business Network, which mostly concentrate on parsing national and international business headlines and providing live coverage of financial markets. For local business news, coverage can appear on local station news programs and in local-origination programming on public-access cable channels, but it’s a rare commodity in the best of times.
The Internet has challenged this video monopoly, compelling TV to compete (and even cooperate) with online “social media” like vlogs (video blogs) and Web video news sharing sites, where businesses have found a vast new outlet for company-produced information. Now that corporate video news material once crafted exclusively for TV news programs has found a new home on the Web, the nature of the relationship between businesses both large and small and their “media” has altered significantly.
Businesses that sell to businesses now use B2C (business-to-consumer) techniques, so business news videos distributed as a marketing communications tool have joined videos of sales presentations, testimonials, human resources promotions, instruction and training, help support and other corporate topics for posting on Web video hosting/sharing sites like YouTube, a commonly used platform for sharing business videos.
Video-sharing Web sites like YouTube are among the best viral types of the social media, according to Aaron Newman, founder and president of Techrigy.
“Listening on these platforms, and even encouraging and participating with what people are saying about your company, products and even competitors should be important to anyone that cares about brand,” Newman told the E-Commerce Times.
Web Business Video
What was once called “corporate video” has evolved into narrowcast Web video programming as large organizations commission TV-type content for their audiences.
Businesses can use Web videos to recruit partners, illustrate a complicated process or service, show video of a facility, demonstrate functionality of a new product, or provide detailed, multi-layered info on an entire product line or service offering in order to engage partners and customers, communicate effectively and stand apart from the competition.
“Selling technology usually involves a complex back story,” said Tim Howell, principal for Binary Pulse, a technology marketing firm. “Speeds, feeds, theories, architectures and applications can present a challenge to isolating the single most understandable message.”
The goal is to consolidate often esoteric information in entertaining and informative ways, going from original concept, scriptwriting and storyboarding, through audio recording, video production and final development. The videos can be used offline in trade shows or on distributable CDs. However, once put up on a Web site and distributed across the Internet, search capabilities become critical.
“Making a Web video into easily accessible online video content requires effective indexing and tagging via information fields embedded within the video to enable interested viewers to quickly and efficiently locate the maximum personalized, relevant value,” Howell told the E-Commerce Times.
B2B Thought Leaders
“In the B2B sector, I see online video as a medium for businesses to enhance dialogue with their customers,” said Joseph Mann of Logarithmic Impact, a B2B strategic marketing firm. “When streaming video segments are produced within the framework of a discussion of customer pain points and industry dynamics, companies — and the executives who represent them — can position themselves as thought leaders in their marketspace while moving prospects along the sales adoption curve.”
In B2B activity, digital marketing is the growth story and rich media is a key element in any company’s digital communications strategy, said Stuart Maister, managing director of BroadView, a rich-media marketing firm.
“If it’s well integrated with other relevant digital content, then Web TV is seen as a high value business communications tool rather than a piece of fluff,” said Maister, who called effective Web video “bite-sized content,” to be viewed at a convenient time at the desktop.
With more than two million free video views each month, ExpoTV is the first and largest video-based social network for e-commerce. ExpoTV has caught the attention of manufacturers through its catalog of more than 250,000 “Videopinions” — product reviews that cover a range of categories from consumer packaged goods to consumer electronics and entertainment products, including digital cameras, computers, video games and movies.
“TV is all about putting your very best content forward and making curatorial decisions for viewers, but the Web is about giving people the choice and ability to find the exact thing they want,” said Bill Hildebolt, ExpoTV president.
“When you think about it like that, perhaps the most exciting aspect of TV in the long term is that it becomes a branding mechanism for a Web property,” Hildebolt told the E-Commerce Times.
B2B News Videos
The bulk of online journalism has been the extension of existing print and broadcast media into the Web via Web versions of their primary products.
“We have witnessed B2B publications morphing into B2B Web sites, and we will now see a transition to delivery of more and more content by video,” said Racepoint’s Sheldrake. “The publishers’ need for insightful and compelling content will continue, but they will need different collateral from companies — multimedia content ready for easy insertion in the editorial process.”
As a result, business news content once developed exclusively for television now serves as Web news content. This includes video news releases (VNRs), b-roll packages (footage provided free of charge to broadcast news organizations as a means of gaining free publicity), and satellite media tours.
VNRs are video versions of printed press releases, and typically include a first look at new products, manufacturing footage or behind-the-scenes footage of a company or other organization. News reports may incorporate a VNR in whole or part if the station news producer feels it contains information appropriate to the story or of interest to viewers.Critics of VNRs have called the practice deceptive or a propaganda technique, particularly in cases in which the segment is not explicitly identified to the viewers as a VNR. Firms producing VNRs disagree, saying that a VNR is simply a press release in video form.
“Editorial and advertising are definitely merging,” said ExpoTV’s Hildebolt. “I don’t think ABC News or The New York Times are loosening their standards, but basically everybody else is. Moreover, new people are masquerading as ‘experts’ because they have a vested interest in and therefore some knowledge of a topic. That blurs and bastardizes the concept of editorial integrity, and I think there will continue to be a backlash against people who speak without transparency.”
Services: Distribution, Search, Analysis
Numerous online services have hit the Web to help companies produce, distribute and track their video messages. Video hosting/sharing services allow companies to upload video clips to Internet Web sites, where the host stores the videos on its server. Here are some examples:
- Insight24: This B2B rich media network aggregates and syndicates more than 5,000 webcasts, videos and podcasts from more than 190 companies in 32 categories. Insight24’s syndication network reaches more than 13 million monthly business and technology visitors.
- TubeMogul: It is an online video distribution and analytics service for companies to upload video content to dozens of video sharing sites, track views and measure the impact of marketing campaigns.
- Mediaseed.tv: Mediaseed is the digital arm of Medialink, a provider of global media services. Mediaseed offers a digital suite of collaboration, archiving, distribution, publishing and evaluation features for corporate marketing and communications professionals. Through Mediaseed, clients partner with Medialink for video and audio production and distribution services. More than 19,000 registered journalists and Web publishers use Mediaseed to preview, download or obtain on request fully-sourced video, audio, still images and text made available for free and unrestricted use by Medialink clients.
- i-TV News Network: The company places video content (VNR or B-roll package) on more than 140 TV news station Web sites as a “featured video placement.” Web site placements, are combined with a video podcast placed on the most popular podcasting avenues like iTunes, Yahoo Podcasts and Podcast Alley, and direct video placement on Google Video guarantees campaigns at least 20 million audience impressions.
- Marketwire: It provides tools to create press releases enhanced with video thumbnails and even streaming video of products and other visuals directly embedded along with links. Company videos are accessible not only on YouTube but also on other Internet video portals such as Yahoo Video.
- Business Wire: Business Wire’s Smart News Releases deliver product photos, executive headshots, charts and graphs, video clips, podcasts and more to media, bloggers and consumers worldwide.
- The NewsMarket: The company provides a suite of services that enables corporate communications and marketing professionals to market and deliver video content to the media, blogs, consumers, online communities and other audiences globally.
- The FeedRoom: The FeedRoom provides video production and site integration, encoding, content management, streaming and detailed reporting, RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, UGC (user-generated content) tools, video blogging, Podcasting, SEO (search engine optimization) and a host of other tools.
- Vpod.tv: This is a video publishing on demand (VPOD) service enabling customers and corporations to create their own private Internet and mobile TV channels. Vloggers can publish to a blog with the click of a mouse, manage and publicize videos through social browsers, and even create new video blog postings from mobile devices.
- Brightcove: Brightcove.tv is a video-sharing and distribution site.
- Find Internet TV: A one-stop shop for locating sites broadcasting video online by providing a directory and program listings for live content. It finds, categorizes, tags and lists sites that show live and on-demand video. Sites are categorized by country, category, stream type and language.