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How many music promo videos really jump out as memorable? Radiohead’s Street Spirit? Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice? Yep, it’s subjective and I guess you can think of lots if you really put your mind to it, but for years the music business has been commissioning and producing promo videos in an often formulaic fashion whilst treating it a as a key tool in any marketing campaign.

Equally, we’ve been TV advertising our products and artists in a manner that the FMCG guys tend to think naive – typically big spend one-off spots, or attempts to spread spend across carefully targeted niche programming for a limited period of time. TV spend only really works if you’re prepared to spend big, spend repetitively and spend over a prolonged period of time. Whilst this all sounds like a generalistic swipe at well intentioned efforts of marketing departments, its not… it’s just that times have changed and more exciting opportunities beckon.

The last two years have seen a gradual but significant adoption of the visual experience via the web. People have got used to watching ‘broadcast’ type content via their laptops and smart phones. YouTube, Daily Motion, TapeTV and others continue to refine and improve the quality of their content offering. User experience has improved. Game changing services such as the BBC iPlayer have brought more than early adopters and kids into the space. People are becoming used to the reliability and on-demand availability of quality programming.

So here’s my point. Stop making promo videos for TV. Stop making adverts and buying space on TV. Start innovating and developing compelling video content and place it on channels that actually speak to your target audiences – guaranteed. To place a 30 second advert in a TV show that might have an audience figure of 500k is still a gamble – how many of those people are actually interested or even see your advert? How do you know?

A piece of video on YouTube or other services can be hit millions of times. The views are by people who want to or have chosen to look at it. It doesn’t have to be a certain length. It also doesn’t have to adhere to creative regulations in the same way a TV ad does. This content could be a ‘promo’, it could be an interview, it could be something completely un-associated with the artist but utterly compelling, it could be ‘an advert’. Either way, that video could be viewed by 500k people, but the right kind of people. Something TV just can’t do.

And the best bit? In addition to the well targeted promotional value of having people view your content, it actually generates hard cash. Advertising revenues deriving from YouTube and other platforms are growing significantly on a monthly basis – just talk to the broadcasters!

Why the rant then about stuff we all know – well, the changes and developments we’ll see in 2011 on platforms such as YouTube combined with continued consumer adoption/familiarity and the consequent ramp up in advertiser and brand adoption makes the opportunity real rather than a theory.

So, marketing becomes fun again. Commissioning becomes interesting. Think about episodic content; provide narratives; involve brands; go short and pithy; crowdsource; don’t make an old school formulaic promo video but provide the music to the fantastic community of creatives that exist out there on the web and let them create something or lots of things – you could even share some of the spoils.

The idea that visual content can be cheaper, more creative and provide a greater return is something that marketers have been lamenting for years. Consumers and advertisers have adopted….can we, as creatives, step up to the challenge and deliver the content that rewards rather than ticking the same old familiar boxes? I believe we can……

Adrian Pope is managing director, digital & business development, PIAS


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

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