Q&A 

Branded Video: 5 minutes with… Pete Fergusson

Branded video is a growth area for publishers. We grab five minutes with Pete Fergusson, CEO of Nemorin Film & Video, to find out why.

By Pete Fergusson

Branded Video: 5 minutes with… Pete Fergusson

Q: Why are we seeing such growth in branded video?

A: The internet has dramatically changed the way people consume content. Coinciding with that, the publishing industry is facing its own challenges in the form of adblockers. Online audiences have made it abundantly clear that pop-ups and banner ads simply aren’t up to scratch. For publishers to keep up producing good content and being commercially viable, they have turned, in part, to branded video. It’s advertising, and labelled clearly as such, but audiences love it. Good quality content that puts story first, but happens to be sponsored by a brand.

The brand wins, by getting access and visibility across the publisher’s existing audience and platform.

The publisher wins, by generating revenue and producing good content that audiences will come back for.

And the audience wins, by getting to watch excellent documentaries, how-tos, round tables, or any other kind of video.

Q: With the rise of mobile, what are the production imperatives?

A: Mobile has changed rapidly in ways that nobody really expected. Video content across social has boomed. Pages like NowThis, LadBible, The Dodo and UniLad have all completely changed the shape of social content in just a few short years. Video is an integral part of these publishers’ content strategies.

The success of this has coincided with how people are consuming social content on mobile. Morning commutes are made up of scrolling Facebook feeds and Instagram Stories. To reach out to these audiences, videos need to achieve several things:

* Work mute. The video has to work without any sound at all. Videos generally autoplay muted in Facebook feeds, and no-one wants to mess around plugging in headphones or adjusting volumes. You have a few precious seconds to grab someone’s attention. This could be achieved through visuals alone, or on-screen text.

* Don’t waste time. Mobile videos are competitive. If audiences are watching on Facebook, there are countless other videos vying for their attention. Get in, make your point, get out. There is no point in hanging around dwelling on beautiful landscape shots – there are other platforms for that.

* Check the aspect ratio. It can be pretty irritating for people to have to tilt their phone to watch videos in 16:9. See if there’s anything you can do to help, like making vertical videos or square videos for Instagram. The more you can give your audience a hassle-free viewing experience, the more they’ll engage and come back for more.

Q: What interesting things are publishers doing in the branded video arena?

A: The New York Times is consistently doing wonderful things with its in-house branded video team, T-Brand Studio. Great multimedia content including lots of video, for instance this post paid for by NetJets.

Vox Media adapted the format of its highly popular Vox videos and offered it to brands, resulting in videos like this partnership with Spotify.

In both instances, the advertising is transparent, the audience knows exactly what the situation is, so trust is retained, but the content is excellent so widely shared. There are plenty of publishers creating their own branded arms, such as Guardian Labs, News UK’s Bridge Studio and the BBC’s StoryWorks.

In a previous life, I was the head of commercial video for The Telegraph, one of the very early adopters of branded video content as an advertising genre. They continue to make some of the most innovative branded content anywhere.

Q: What are the main video production challenges publishers face?

A: The growth of online video has been rapid. So, it’s not surprising that publishers can be daunted by how to tackle video production. The main challenges tend to be regarding the huge variety of content requests and of cost. Video production can be expensive. And publishers could understandably be nervous about investing in kit, staff, software and expertise without a guarantee of a return.

One of the best ways to overcome these is by teaming up with a production agency. You get access to all of the staff and expertise that come with it, but without having to worry about ongoing overheads. Agencies offer the whole suite of content too, from animation to live streaming, location shoots, mood films, broadcast and more.

Sales teams can be nervous around selling video to their clients. Video teams or partner agencies such as Nemorin will also assist the pitch process, as well as production.

Publishers also have the constant editorial / commercial challenges around placement of branded content. The great opportunity branded video provides is attempting to cross that divide in a way that works for publisher (commercial and editorial), brand and most importantly, audience. Clear labelling is vital for this to work.

Q: What particular trends and opportunities should publishers be aware of?

A: There are trends and opportunities springing up all the time in the video world. Currently, the industry is exploring live streaming, virtual reality and augmented reality, all of which are in an early stage of growth and available for publishers to jump on. The main thing is to keep on top of what the industry is doing – sites like Tubular Insights are great to keep an eye on.

With more and more content being created, the quality of the content is paramount, so focus on the story and why audiences should invest their time watching.

Quality B2B branded video is a big growth sector and one to jump on now, particularly with LinkedIn pushing video so much.

Q: Can you give a couple of examples of particularly effective branded videos? And what makes them so good?

A: This content came from a partnership between The Telegraph and Audi. The film kicks off with an intriguing soundbite and b-roll that grabs the attention of the audience. It’s great brand awareness for Audi, and it’s a great compelling story that appeals to The Telegraph’s audience. They’re happy to receive a few logos in exchange for a great video.

This collaboration between Mr Porter and JLC ticks all the right boxes. The film strikes the right balance between legitimate product shots and brand placement. There’s a lovely combination of a journalistic tone of voice and beautiful cinematography. It works equally well for both editorial and commercial agendas.

The ultimate branded videos have got to be The Lego Movie and the Red Bull Stratos stunt. The Lego Movie grossed half a billion US Dollars, Stratos was covered live on TV networks globally. Both are essentially ads, but as they’re so entertaining the audience doesn’t care. That’s the sweet spot.

Nemorin Film & Video is a branded video production company based in London and operating all over the world. Founded by Pete Fergusson, previously the head of commercial video for The Telegraph Media Group, we create bespoke video content for agencies, brands, media owners, publishers and SMEs. Nemorin Film & Video specialises in branded video content – story-driven video advertising that engages audiences on an emotional level.

Nemorin Film & Video

International House

1 St Katharine’s Way

St Katharine Docks

London, E1W 1UN

Tel: 0330 122 47 14

Email: hello@nemorin.com

Web: www.nemorin.com