Video growth is occurring at an astonishing rate. It is predicted that by 2019, video will be responsible for 4/5 of the global Internet traffic. Based on your own online video consumption behaviour, you likely don’t need a statistic to know it’s on the climb. But, despite the overwhelmingly convincing statistics, many businesses are still not making online video a major part of their marketing.

And of the brands that have made video content a major part of their marketing, many are still using an old school marketing mindset, which is 1) steal attention and 2) pitch the business.

There was a time when this was not only an accepted video marketing strategy, but also an effective one. Based on how audiences consumed video (through television) there was an agreement in place that viewers understood; in order to watch video, they must undergo the advertisement.

Viewers knew this was part of the deal. It was how networks earned the capital to run the television network and develop their shows. With no DVR to skip forward and no mobile device to retreat to, audiences willingly stuck it out. Commercials could even have potential to be exciting during this time.

How Things Have Changed

Entering 2017, this model is broken. Since the popularization of online video and social media, people no longer need to submit to those TV commercial rules. In fact, the only reason that any of those rules were put in place to begin with is because they fit the context of that media platform. You were likely to receive the audience’s attention, so pitching them on a self-serving 30 second commercial didn’t seem so bad. It worked for those circumstances. Today, the television-advertising platform is fading, and so is the relevancy of most of the ad content that is developed for it.

However, brands continue to develop video content that is essentially the exact same model as traditional televisions ads, except they place them on the web. This style of content is dated and for the most part valueless. It doesn’t fit the context of the new platform they are placing it on — the web and social media platforms. Brands are still following a very limited set of television rules that no longer apply.

Context Is The Game

In order for video content to hold attention it must work for the platform it is on and fit viewer expectations. Bringing older television strategies to online and mobile platforms is not only increasingly irrelevant, it’s annoying and counter productive. It creates a distain towards the brand because people are tired of being interrupted.

Think about watching a YouTube video and having an annoying ad pop up that you are frustrated with. You have to wait 5 seconds until you can close it and watch the video you came to watch. I’ll say that again… until you can close it and watch the video you CAME to watch. An annoying video is blocking you from another video you actually want to give your attention to. That means that in a digital world where anyone or any brand can just as freely produce video content that people are electing to watch, they still choose to create traditional commercials that piggyback off of others another video, hoping to steal some attention. Let me note that YouTube ads can be extremely effective and are often an essential part of any online distribution strategy. But again, that YouTube ad’s success begins with compelling content that people elect to watch.

Is The Value For You? Or Is The Value For Them?

When you produce self-serving video and force it in front of others, you associate your brand with frustration, disrespect, or irrelevance. People automatically tune out when they sense insincerity. Then, when the ad pops up again in the future the negative association is reinforced.

This happens in advertising often. It happens when a TV commercial airs and the audience unconsciously grabs their phone to tune out. It happens when there is an annoying pop up ad on a page that frustrates the user so they close the page in exchange for a different and less annoying page. It happens in social feeds when you try to selfishly sell people something amidst an ocean of entertaining, useful, and selfless content.

Television’s interruptive nature became a burden when the Internet allowed for services like Youtube, Vimeo, and Netflix to exist. So if you are going to buy ad space on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube and force that content in front of an audience, it better give them something worthy of their time. Forget about trying to sell, and think about what the audience needs. What real and genuine value can you offer in that 1-minute Instagram video? What knowledge does your brand have that would be interesting for the audience?

Content is king, but context is also king. You cannot simply design a catch-all advertisement and broadly throw it onto YouTube. An ad for Instagram needs t0 be created for Instagram. Same applies to YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.

When creating content online, start with the audience in mind. If you continue to create videos that revolve around your own needs, your audience will favour the competitor, who is creating with the viewer’s best interest in mind.