Does Online Video Pay? And How Much, Exactly?

Grant Crowell’s article about video promotions through Internet Yellow Page programs raises a point that’s probably on the mind of any serious marketer. The hype surrounding online video is deafening, and getting louder: its bizarre mix of content, the experiments by mainstream broadcasters, the sporadic announcements of success from vendors and agencies. But really: does video pay off? Are there ways to generate a measurable business outcome? And if so, what exactly are we measuring?

Follow the crowd

Let’s start with the fact that, as with any marketing channels, you have to go where the audience is. Right now, viewers flock to portal sites like YouTube, Google Video, and Metacafe. The challenge for marketers is that these video portals are not a controlled environment:

  • Videos are hosted by the portal site, so your web analytics can’t collect traffic info

  • Videos are played on the portal site, so getting traffic back to your site is an issue
  • No control over playback (if you’re a content producer, your commercials won’t play first)
  • No control over blog-style feedback from the portal’s viewing audience. (You can turn it off, but that’s about it)

Services such as TubeMogul can help you collect metrics from these sites. Views, comments, and favorites can be counted and compiled into baseball cards-style tables. But while this is a useful way to measure activity, there’s no action being performed that you can tie to a business outcome: no sign-ups, no PDF downloads, no purchases.

Make the crowd follow you

To get those actions, you need to get viewers back to your site. Fortunately, viewer behavior hints at the ideal method. Online videos are like Lay’s potato chips: the typical viewer can’t just watch one. The promise of more video content can bring them back to your website. This sort of teaser strategy can take many forms:

  • Watermarks on the video itself give the user a next step, particularly in conjunction with a final frame containing your full URL

  • You can also replicate this info in the text description area that accompanies the video on most portals
  • In addition to providing URL info, you can give them a reason to visit your site. When you upload your Brad Pitt video to YouTube, you’ll want to mention that there’s an Angelina Jolie video back on your website—both in the description, and in the video itself.

The important things to count with video

Once viewers are back on your site, you can bring all your site metrics to bear. Play the landing page game, as you would for any other marketing campaign. Here are some key items to look at:

Click-through ratio. As with banner ads, CTR is a metric that helps us monitor the bottleneck between YouTube activity and on-site activity. Even with a great teaser strategy, only a small percentage of viewers will actually come back to you. But you can test your videos for click-through, and rotate out the underperformers.

Conversion events. Once a viewer clicks through to your landing page, this is where conversion events (on-site video plays, sign-ups, purchases) can occur. Deciding which conversion events to place on your landing page is a fine art, but you can rely on your previous landing page experiences to give you a head start.

On-site activity. Even if incoming viewers avoid your conversion events, their subsequent actions can teach you a lot about their wants and needs. Their tendency to drift off to certain content areas, or to jump ship when they hit a particular page, can help you fine-tune your site’s structure and messaging.

Experienced marketers will note that nothing in these three bullets is a new invention – and that’s the point. Online video can function like any other form of promotional outreach: pulling interested visitors back to your site, giving you a chance to make your pitch, and allowing you to quantify the result.

Sherwood Stranieri is Director of Natural Search at SMG Search, a dedicated search unit of Starcom MediaVest Group. Based in Chicago, SMG Search creates integrated search strategies for some of the world’s largest companies. The Video Search column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | SEO: Video Search | Video Search


About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

Connect with the author via: Email


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide