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The Changing Face of Online Video

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By Carl Weiss & Hector Cisneros

I’ve been working the web long enough to remember a time when video wasn’t part of the Internet scene.  The problem back in the 90’s was that the bandwidth could barely support graphics, much less stream video.  Dialup connections were simply too slow to make video part of the online equation in the early days of the WWW.  That all changed in the new millennium as dialup gave way to DSL connections.  Even that took a few years to become affordable to the masses.  But once most everyone had access to high speed connections, video became a major game changer.  Or, did it?

Do You YouTube?

The problem with video is that it takes up a lot of space.  Even once it became possible to
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stream video, it's more or less languished until the birth of free video portals like YouTube entered the picture.  Since hosting plans charge for bandwidth, any video that was used for marketing purposes became as much a liability as an asset.  If your video became popular, your ISP hit you with a big bill at the end of the month.  This meant that most businesses that used video to promote themselves online, did it with an eyedropper.  All that changed once portals such as YouTube, Vimeo and Daily Motion entered the game.  Not only did these portals make it easy to store, stream and host video, but they also give video producers the opportunity to monetize their channels. What’s not to like?

Free Warts

Of course, the free part didn’t come without a few warts.  For starters, while you can store your videos on these portals, make no bones about it, you don’t necessarily own them.  Just like social networks and free blogs, if you read the fine print in the contract, you will find out that anything stored on a video portal can be used or deleted by the portal.  If YouTube doesn’t like the way you are promoting your video, it can be summarily deleted without warning.  (Trust me, I have seen this happen to several of my own YouTube videos.)

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Another fly in the ointment is that just like websites, there are hundreds of millions of videos online.  More than half of them seem to be silly cat videos or stupid pet trick videos.  While these cutesy videos seem to generate a lot of attention, that doesn’t make your job any easier if you are trying to promote your business.  (Unless you can figure out a way to tie a silly pet video to your promotion.) That means that while you can post videos until you are blue in the face, they won’t do you much good unless you can generate an audience that is willing to watch them.  While you can sponsor videos on all the major portals, this costs a considerable amount of money.  If you are working on a budget, you will undoubtedly want to resort to a little guerilla marketing to generate views. 

Everybodys Getting into the Act 

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Today, everyone from Facebook and Twitter to Amazon and Snapchat have incorporated video into their matrix.  This means there are a lot of places to display your videos.  If you have a blog with thousands of readers, you should consider embedding at least one video on every post.  This will help generate views since readers are likely to watch a video, provided that it isn’t an outright commercial.  There are even a number of apps designed specifically to stream video.  This is a great way to share an event or host a webinar. 


YouTube is the granddaddy of video marketing that Google purchased it in 2006. Today, more videos are uploaded and watched on YouTube than any other video platform. YouTube is the second most searched platform on the web, (second only to Google Search). Today, YouTube accounts for a large portion of Google’s revenue for a good reason. YouTube has always been an innovator, and today they are providing new ways for any business to produce and provide video marketing in a wide variety of ways. You can create your own WebTV channel, stream live video to the masses, engage in pair to pair video calls, engage in video webinars and much more. YouTube now also provides basic video editing software on your YouTube channel at no charge as well.

Animated Videos

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Animation has always been the privy of highly skilled video artists. It took thousands of hours of learning and practice to become a good animator. Today, new animation platforms are making this genre accessible to the masses. Platforms like and video production software like Coral Videostudios has lowered the bar for all. Creating your first animation video for free is easy with Powtoons platform, as long as you’re OK with them, adding a link to their website at the end of the video. Again, the initial investment is no longer a barrier to employing video marketing.  (Just don’t expect Pixar quality for free.)

Social Video

For many years YouTube and to some extent, Vimeo, were the only real choices for entry level video marketing. That has now changed since Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social networks have jumped onto the video bandwagon.

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Facebook has made a significant investment into their video platform and their intent is to be a player in the WebTV arena. They are urging users to stream live video and to create video channels to not only compete with YouTube, but to compete with the big TV networks.

Twitter has also made some interesting additions. Short videos have been used on Twitter for some time now. Today, however, Twitter is enlisting the help of some big players. They signed a recent deal to Stream live NFL games free to the public. They have also been providing monetized videos for some time now. Their first live NFL stream reached 2.1 million viewers. This was a great success, and Twitter is looking to do more of these live TV events.

Snapchat has also been busy upgrading its platform to enhance what its user can do. They
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have added a save function which allows the user to save photos and videos, something that goes against the aura
of immediacy, spontaneity, and simplicity that Snapchat is known for.  They have also launched their first hardware product called Spectacles that start with a pair of video-enabled glasses that can upload video to Snapchat. The new glasses cost $130 and are aimed at their young audience who care more about fun than looking cool.

Are we seeing the future of WebTV on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat? I think so, but online video doesn’t end there. Big changes have taken hold as the general public embrace peer to peer video calls (made possible by 4g networks and better smartphones), live and recorded video webinars and video emails. Let’s look at these three areas to see how they are being used as a marketing platform.

Peer to Peer Video Chat

Peer to Peer video chat is not new, but the ability to use it easily as a widespread communications medium is. Recent upgrades in smartphone apps like Hangouts, Facetime,
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Viber, Skype and others have made video chat easy, affordable and more accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Plus, the newest generation of smartphones with their bigger high resolution screens, more memory, and much faster processors make video chat something that does not stress the capabilities of the phone or cellular network. Video chat will soon replace cell calls without video in the near future.

Video Webinars

Online Webinars have been around for about a decade, but new technology, better software, and better pricing are making this marketing platform grow in usage. There are many free and freemium platforms out there, along with the tried and true pay to play packages with low entry pricing. Programs like GoToMeeting and WebEx have been around for years. Some free programs worth looking at are Google Hangouts, Skype, and AnyMeeting. Check these packages out and take them for a spin. With the ability to record your online presentations and the ability to leverage presentations to a larger crowd than a peer to peer video chat, these programs have a lot to offer in value and utility.

Video Embedded Email

Email has been a mainstay in online marketing since the web began. Video embedded
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email marketing has been making inroads as of late for the same reason many of these other video platforms have been growing. Greater bandwidth on all networks, faster computers and smartphones, better resolution and the ability to play the video in the email have all had an impact. There are free platforms out there, but the pay to play platforms provide better results and more options starting for as little as $35 a month. When you realize that providing video inside your emails increase open and click-through rates by as much as 300 percent, you will realize how cost-effective it is to use video email marketing.

How to Create Videos that Don’t Suck

Since there are literally billions of viewers who watch online videos every day, generating an audience shouldn’t be that difficult, right?  Then why aren’t your videos generating a crowd?  The problem may lie more with your abilities than with the medium. While there are entire libraries dedicated to showing you how to create must-see online videos, the basic premise is that you need to create videos that don’t suck.  This is easier said than done. If you have ever watched many promotional videos online, you will find that many are either too long or just plain boring.  Here are some hints if you want to avoid throwing your audience under the video bus:

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  1. Online videos are not TV commercials – Many businesses advertise on TV. So if it works on the boob tube, shouldn’t your commercials work on YouTube? Not necessarily. In the first place, people who watch YouTube don’t want to see blatant advertisements. That’s not the kind of videos they seek. They are looking for what I refer to as infotainment. That is a little bit of information wrapped around a punchline. If you can teach them something and make them smile at the same time, then you have accomplished your goal.
  2. Online videos are not major motion pictures – For the most part when it comes to online videos, less is more. Unless you are shooting a talk show or variety show, the best length for most online videos is 2-minutes or less. 
  3. Nobody wants to watch a board meeting – As a rule, the last thing you want to do is stream the minutes of your next board meeting. That means that unless you can find a way to engage the audience, don’t bother recording. That being said, if you can find a way to inject a bit of levity into an otherwise boring situation, you will find a receptive audience. Check out the Board Meeting Gone Bad to see what I mean.
  4. DIY done right – People are into do it yourself projects. That being said, the last thing they want to watch is shaky cam where they run the risk of getting sea sick while watching your video. Even the cheapest of production shot with a smartphone can be made watchable with the purchase of a tripod and cellphone mount for around $20 or so. Also consider adding titling and royalty-free music to give your video added production value. Far from giving away the store, DIY videos done right can put you and your business on the map. Check out this DIY video:
  5. Make them laugh till they buy – Never underestimate the power of humor to sway an audience. Heck, there have been several billion dollar businesses spawned by a humorous video, such as Dollar Shave Club and the Orabrush. While your efforts might not have what it takes to springboard your business to the billionaire level, adding levity to your efforts helps add two of three elements needed to get a prospect to take action. (They need to know you, like you and trust you.) As for the trust factor, a few short testimonial videos is all it takes to rectify that situation as well.
Are You the Star of Your Show?
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Even though it costs little to produce and nothing to host online videos, most business owners and managers are still using video sparingly. What they don’t realize is the fact that right now there is an opportunity to generate a buzz about your business by doubling down on video.  In the past few years, we have turned plumbers into local stars by creating a series of quirky videos that made customers smile while elevating the status of the plumber to authority stature.  We have also created a YouTube series that we are using to promote several local businesses.  All it takes is a little imagination to get started.

Online video can be a powerful way to take your business to the masses.  Unlike broadcast TV, the beauty of online video is that they do not go dark the minute the show goes off the air.  Properly produced and optimized videos can take on a life all their own.  They can continue to produce viewers for years to come.  With a little creativity, you can create a cost-effective way to broadcast what you and your business do best and in so doing show prospects and clients alike that you are the star of your show.

That’s our opinion; we look forward to reading viewing yours.

In this article, we have provided a comprehensive update on why video marketing has become a mainstay in the online marketing arena. We  show why video marketing is important and included Tips and examples of 10 ways any business person can take advantage of video marketing on the web today.

If you’d like to read more articles like this, check out: Lights! Webcam! YouTube action!, Social Media Marketing via Online Video and Is Humor a Weapon of Mass Distraction or Attraction? You can also type “video marketing” in the search box at the top of this blog to find even more.
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Carl Weiss & Hector Cisneros are the co-owners of the award-winning, Internet-based marketing firm, Working the Web to Win, in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with them on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. They also co-host the show by the same name on BlogTalkRadio where they make working the web to win simple for every business.  Both Carl & Hector are syndicated writers and published authors. They co-authored the book, “Working the Web to Win,” which is now available on

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