Return on investment: the holy grail of video marketing

Return on investment: the holy grail of video marketing

Posted on: 10 July 2013

Spotlights a metaphor for searching for the return on investment of video marketing
Photo courtesy of kennymatic

Every industry has its Holy Grail, a mythical icon, a key to unlocking understanding. In genetics it was the discovery of DNA.  For video marketing, it's the robust financial case for proving the return on investment (ROI) for every penny spent on video. In these tightened times, ROI is often seen as the only way to prove the real value for online video.

Here at Ember, we have also been seduced by the lure of the Grail. We amassed our own intrepid group of brave knights, in the shape of a team of pioneering MA students from the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick.  We sent them out to find out the value, and what the ROI is, of video marketing. What their mission achieved has opened minds, even if the Holy Grail itself may still be lying undisturbed.

The journey

The Warwick team looked at the debate surrounding ROI and other concepts of value, talking to real companies, regionally, nationally and internationally. Their research illustrated video ROI as an elusive concept, particularly among smaller, regional companies. However, the commercial necessity to measure and assess impact continues to grow. Coming to the sector from a background in logistics and manufacturing, I know the need to support presumption with cold facts and results.  Our team therefore quickly grasped the message that every video has to deliver value, and value has to be measured.

The discovery

The measurement differed depending on the purpose of the video so a simple ROI does not reflect this complexity. The answer may not be in conventional analytics either. Counting hits and revealing an audience profile may record viewing habits, but they do not easily relate back to the client's original reason for commissioning the video. Can the number of hits measure the dissemination of an idea or the impact of a differentiated strategy?

Arguably it is not ROI that we need to measure the value of video marketing, nor even the complex metrics beloved of the video industry.  Instead, it's the linking of the video's impact back to indicators the client uses and probably thought about in the first place. If the video was designed to increase awareness, measure brand awareness after the video. If it promotes an idea, measure recognition of the idea before and after.

The Holy Grail?

We don't know whether the ROI for video marketing is 1% or 10%. The Grail remains hidden to us. What we do know is that video must meet its purpose and measuring that in its original terms is probably as pure a concept as we can get. Our students' journey may not have ended with the Holy Grail, but perhaps in its place we may have gained enlightenment.

This blog was written by David Mellor. The research was commissioned by Ember Television and carried out by students from the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick.


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Return on investment: the holy grail of video marketing



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