If you needed proof that the quality of branded content is on the rise, just look how the spartan company blog has continued to give way to to excellent freestanding experiences like GE Reports and Coca-Cola Journey.
However, despite this sharp increase in overall quality, many marketers have been hesitant to move beyond text-based articles and unleash the web’s full potential as a multimedia storytelling platform.
To some marketers, the specialized skills needed to produce visual content—whether video, infographics, or interactive media—make doing so seem like an excessively expensive proposition. And as a result, the same brands who have used written blog posts to dip their toes into the content waters consider the cost of multimedia an unfortunately high barrier to entry.
But instead of being overly cautious, brands should perhaps take a piece of advice from Matt Damon’s character in the 1998 poker movie Rounders. As Damon’s character says: “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle… But you can’t win much either.”
Indeed, brands have much to gain by playing their cards right when it comes to multimedia.
No place is the sentiment more applicable than on Facebook, where autoplay video ads allow brands to showcase great content in a place viewers are bound to see them. Just Media’s president Brandon Friesen recently told us he was seeing click-through rates of up to 8 percent for video ads on Facebook, compared to rates of around 0.1 percent for the average banner ad.
Meanwhile, a 2014 Quintly study of more than 72,000 Facebook pages found that video posts generated the most user engagement of any format, with about 2,200 interactions per update. Photo updates came in second with about 1,400 interactions per post.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only place companies have reaped the rewards of visual content.
The marketing software company Moz found that the video content it published on its website generated three times as many inbound links as content that was text only. Likewise, the enterprise software company Attivio found that once it started publishing video on its site, the average visitor started spending 100 percent more time with its content.
Bigger publishers also seem to agree. Jay Lauf, publisher of Quartz, recently told me he frequently encourages marketers to let his branded content team produce interactive features for them since it usually leads to higher user engagement.
And visual content isn’t only effective for producing engagement and clicks—it might also create more direct sales than other types of content.
A report created last year by Vidyard and Demand Metric found that 71 percent of marketers claimed video drove higher conversion rates than other forms of content. What’s particularly impressive about this data point is that while some marketers think of video as a big-budget branding tool, more than half of the respondents to the survey worked for B2B companies.
For even greater returns, some brands have found success creating video content that is customized for the individual consumer who sees it, according to a report from Forrester Research.
For instance, when Sass Global Travel sent customers an email including a video about an Argentina ski trip that integrated their names and locations into the content, people clicked on it 19.5 percent of the time and spent an average of three minutes on the video landing page. For those scoring at home, the company’s previous average click-through rate was just 1.8 percent—marking a 985 percent improvement. Not too shabby.
What this all goes to show is that when it comes to high-quality multimedia content, brands should consider channeling their inner Matt Damon and push their marketing dollars to the middle. Because after a while, as brands continue to invest in publishing, strong multimedia projects will merely be considered table stakes.