Vidyard, a leading video platform for business, recently released their annual Video in Business Benchmark Report and it is full of great information on how businesses are leveraging video to engage customers and prospects. The study found on average 52% of viewers watch a video all the way through, regardless of the video’s length. But over two-thirds (68%) of viewers watch a video to the end if it’s less than 60 seconds. While only 25% will finish a video if it’s more than 20 minutes.
These are just a few of the many data points coming from the survey. And I recently spoke with Vidyard’s VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard, who shared his perspective on some of the key findings from the report. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To see the full conversation watch the video or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.
2019 Video Marketing Trends
Small Business Trends: Give us some of the major takeaways that you guys found in this one.
Tyler Lessard: We just published our annual report, called the 2019 Video and Business Benchmark Report and each year we actually, we pull the data from two different sources that we work with. One is qualitative research that we do in partnership with a third party, that surveys marketers out there and how they’re using video. And the second is our own first party data in which we analyze more than 3000 videos published over a 12 month period from primarily B2B businesses and those using our platform. So they aren’t media companies. It’s not entertainment. These are all businesses using video to support their go to market programs and largely in B2B.
Within this report we end up seeing some really interesting hard data trends. As well as how do those correlate to some of the qualitative research that we’re seeing. And I think one of the biggest things that we saw this year compared to previous years was a really broad expansion in terms of the types of video that businesses are creating to support their marketing and sales programs. And if you go back, one, two, three years, the majority of businesses were creating fewer videos first of all. But they were also focusing them in on things like website explainer videos, product demos and online webinars. And traditionally, that’s often how we think about the basics of video in B2B.
Video Marketing Spreading Through the Sales Funnel
But this year we saw a huge spike in those reporting the use of, and creation of, videos for social media channels, videos specifically for their YouTube channels, videos to support the ongoing buyers journey, customer success videos, things like that. So we’re seeing sort of this rise of video throughout the full funnel. And sort of a correlated benchmark to that is more and more of that video creation is happening in house. So businesses are getting scrappier with saying, “You know what? We don’t need to outsource all of these videos. Yeah, that great explainer for our website, let’s get a professional to do that. But when we’re creating product demo videos, on demand thought leadership, how to videos, things like that, more and more of that is happening in house. That’s just a core part of the content that they’re publishing.
Small Business Trends: Could that also be a function of costs coming down, technology making it easier for them to do it and feeling like they can actually handle some more of it internally as opposed to externally?
Tyler Lessard: Yeah, 100%. And we see both factors playing in now, that there’s more demand for video throughout the buyers journey. Because audiences are just tending to go that way now. And if they have an option to engage in video, it’s working really well for marketers. So they’re seeing, okay, we should create more content. But at the same time, as you said, the ability to supply that content has come a long way. And so we can now create videos. I mean you and I right now are creating a video as we speak, right, as an interview style thought leadership video. And that’s something that we can put out there to support our program.
Video Length Getting Shorter
Small Business Trends: Right. One of the trends it looks like is taking place is videos are starting to get shorter and shorter and shorter.
Tyler Lessard: Yes. We saw year over year, this has been happening in the business world. And it’s probably not surprising to most people. If you go back two years ago, of all the videos published through our platform by businesses, the average length overall was about nine minutes. Last year, the average length was around six minutes. And this year it dropped down to four minutes. So of those 300,000 plus videos, the average length across all of them was four minutes.
Now the important thing to also look at is 73% of all those videos were less than two minutes, right? So there’s this big volume of videos that are less than two minutes. We’re still seeing that complemented with longer form content. Things like interviews and webinars and things like that. But more and more it’s about the creation of these quick, short form videos. Whether that be to explain a specific topic, to educate somebody in a how to, or to use them for short promotion on social media, email marketing and other channels like that.
More Viewers Staying to the End
Small Business Trends: So videos are getting shorter, but it seems like there are more people actually getting through the whole video.
Tyler Lessard: Right. Yes.
Small Business Trends: It sounds like things are starting to meet in the middle or something like that.
Tyler Lessard: No, you’re right. And that was my big takeaway this year, there’s this breadth of content being created, but in parallel, videos are getting shorter, but at the same time people are watching longer, and both percentage wise and absolute value times. And so I think what we’re seeing there is you’re right, things are sort of meeting up, where I believe that businesses are getting better at creating value in their content.
Business Getting Savvier
And that’s keeping people watching longer and I think that’s because we’ve been doing this now a number of years, and I think again, businesses are just getting savvier in what they’re creating. I think there’s more emphasis than ever on the value, the actual content value as opposed to the production value and so again, that’s where we’ve seen this rise of how to videos, thought leadership videos, things that are delivering real value in an educational format. And those tend to keep people watching longer.
It may not have as many views as those big promotional videos, but more and more of them are sort of targeting audiences and going deeper into the buyers journey. So I think we’re creating better content as an industry, at least I hope that’s one of the interpretations I can take from that data. But at the same time I think people are just more likely to consume video content now as it’s becoming more and more a natural part of how we consume information, whether it be in our personal lives or in our business lives.
Video Still Viewed on Desktop – Even in a Mobile World
Small Business Trends: One of the more interesting kind of factoids that came out of this for me is we are in a mobile world, and we see that more and more content seems to be being consumed via mobile devices.
Tyler Lessard: Yeah.
Small Business Trends: Not so much with some of this business video, it seems.
Tyler Lessard: Right. Yeah, we’ve seen that as a consistent trend for the last few years, that the majority of viewing of business related videos happens on desktops, not on mobile devices. And in fact, it’s been well over 80%, I think even over 85% for the last couple of years running. We did see a little bit of an uptick in mobile devices consumption in these last 12 months, but it’s still not a huge contributor.
And I think if you think about the world of business, it’s probably not surprising to put yourself through that through process. Most of these videos are consumed during the 9:00 to 5:00 workday, the most common time for people to view business related videos are mid-week, so Wednesday or Thursday, and typically in the morning, or early afternoon time period. Which I think is consistent with a lot of other types of content, so it’s the part of the week where people are willing to spend a bit more time researching, educating, or consuming, as opposed to Monday when you’re getting going and Friday where you feel like you just got to get things done and get out.
B2B Viewing Happening During the Day
But it mostly happens during the day, and in the business world, again, a lot of that video is for educational purposes, so people are still sitting down, their consuming it on their desktops, as opposed to the consumer world, where mobile video is largely about entertainment, right, and so we’re quickly watching, or communication, whereas in business, I still see a focus on educational content and as a result people are tuning in on their desktops.
And the one takeaway I’ll give you on that Brent, for the audience listening and what does that mean for most people, it’s that be mindful that because people tend to watch business videos on their desktops, we can take advantage of the bigger form factor, so we can create videos with a little bit more visual content and not worrying about is this always going to be viewed on a small device.
But also it does give us more liberty in terms of longer form content, right? People on mobile are more likely to consume short form, snackable content, you usually don’t sit on your mobile and watch an hour long video, but people will do that on their desktops. And so you have a little bit more liberty in the business world to create those 10 minute long interviews, those 30 minute educational webinars and expect people will stay tuned.
Analytics Becoming More Important
Small Business Trends: Yeah, one of the other kind of really interesting takeaways, is this whole area around analytics, and it seems like video creators are getting a little bit more sophisticated with the way that they analyze the performance of their videos. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that.
Tyler Lessard: I think it’s a great extension to the other trends that we’re seeing. As businesses do more and more video, even if they’re creating them in house, that’s still a bigger and bigger investment, right? Because it’s still people’s time, their energy, and it’s a bigger part of your programs. So as you’re doing that, you start to have that need to make sure that you are tracking the data, to know what’s working, what’s not, am I applying these resources affectively and how do we get the most out of these videos? When you’re just doing one-offs, it’s not as big a deal, and you usually look at things like view counts and basic engagement on them and say, “Hey, is this getting some good sharing and are people staying tuned?”
Customer Tracking Becoming More Aggressive
But as you start doing video more aggressively throughout your marketing and sales, and throughout the buyer’s journey, you want to start to be able to track things, like who’s actually watching these videos and how is that influencing net new leads, and ultimately the business related metrics, like influence on pipeline or revenue.
And then also understanding, where are they watching these videos, if it’s embedded in multiple places, can I tell where people are finding it, where they’re consuming it. So lots of different things that we’re seeing businesses start to do and I think we’ll continue to see as we move forward, as businesses rely more and more on video, that that trend will continue and more of them will start to look at these richer analytics through more sophisticated video platforms.
Social Media Dominated by On-Demand
Small Business Trends: When you talk about social media, using social media as a place for video, does that also include the live streaming aspects, or is it more just natively posting videos?
Tyler Lessard: What we’re seeing for most businesses and people responding to the surveys is that primary use on social is just on-demand videos that are being published, either on their main profiles, and or by their employees and their evangelists and their executives. As well as a growing use of their YouTube channels as a specific place to publish content. Less so for live video, we still haven’t seen huge adoption of live streaming within the typical business world. You know, those who do report using live streaming we see are using for things like ask me anything sessions, with people from their company or executives, things that are maybe interview style, but they want to take advantage of live to see if they can pull an audience in in real time.
But we still haven’t really seen a silver bullet from anybody in terms of the real business use of live video, so I think it’s still a lot of that on demand content.
LinkedIn Live Becoming Big
Small Business Trends: I just got the access to LinkedIn Live and I’ve been playing around with it, and I’m pretty surprised at how, at least the first one I did… I guess people aren’t used to getting notifications about live video on LinkedIn.
Tyler Lessard: Right.
Small Business Trends: And so, there was a curiosity factor or something, because I literally did like a minute and a half, me just staring, trying to get this thing to work, and that has over 2800 views and like 60 something comments and it seems like it’s just right now it’s more of a curiosity, but do you have a sense for, if something on the LinkedIn platform since it is business oriented, may actually have a pretty significant impact on the way video goes in the future?
Tyler Lessard: I do. And I think that to your point, it is an opportunity right now to be creative in how you might use live streaming on any of these platforms and LinkedIn certainly. And it’s partly because those social platforms are incentivizing the consumption of it, right? So they, as much as we hate to say it, we need to play those games of if LinkedIn is going to drive people to come watch my live streams because they have their own motivation behind it, then we need to think about that, and see if that’s a way to leverage their reach and get more audiences in, then that’s something we should consider.
LinkedIn Video Ramping Up
And even on LinkedIn now we will more often than not include a video in our posts, even if it’s just a short video that’s just like a quick summary of what we’re talking about, and it’s because we find that they just get broader reach because LinkedIn is motivated to pull people into posts with native videos as opposed to those without. And so I think there is an opportunity there today and with live streaming to your point, it’s new to market, especially on LinkedIn, there can absolutely be that curiosity and novelty factor, but also we know that LinkedIn is motivated to get people to watch, so they’re doing things like notification and others. So if you can be smart, and come up with good content, because the problem is using it and abusing it.
Small Business Trends: Let’s talk to the folks who have not really gotten started with video but have, they realize it’s going to be important to them to do so. And let’s frame it in the sense is, this is an SMB company….
Tyler Lessard: Yeah.
Small Business Trends: Limited resources, but they know that this is a way for them to get their name out, start building their brand and start connecting with prospects. What are some of the best ways that they could actually get started doing that?
Small Businesses Rethinking Video Marketing
Tyler Lessard: I talk to a lot of smaller businesses around how they’re thinking about video and trying to get going. And the one thing to start with, as you think about this, is to be mindful that video is another content medium to deliver your message through the different channels or paths that you probably already use today. So don’t think about it as something totally separate. I think you need to think about it more organically, as a content type.
And if you do email marketing, most of your emails are probably text based today. Should there be videos that become the call to action to those? Maybe you have a blog? Should you be incorporating videos as a way to deliver your message on your blog? You do thought leadership content. So like you and I are doing right now, maybe you want to do video based interviews or video podcasts. Even an episodic video series to support that content strategy, that blog strategy and so on.
Video Entering Sales Process
And the other place to think about it is of course, with your sales team. If you’re a small business, maybe you are the marketer and the sales person and the business owner. And think about as you are reaching out directly to prospects or customers. Are there videos that would help to shorten those conversation cycles?
If you had a really quick, simple video that just clearly explained what you do. Doesn’t have to be something where you’re outsourcing to an agency, getting drone footage and doing all this big production. It could be something as simple as you hopping on camera. Maybe in front of a whiteboard, with a couple of images up there, and just genuinely explaining, “This is exactly how we help businesses solve these problems.”
And just by being able to share a video of you explaining that compared to written text and bullet points, it not only gives the audience a different way to consume the content in a way that they may prefer, but it also gives you the chance to be more authentic and to build a more personal connection.
Video Helping to Build Personal Connections
Because when people watch a video of you explaining what you do versus reading some copy on a web page, just picture it yourself. The video you immediately, you see that person. It’s very transparent. You can hopefully see their passion come through, if they’re really got positive energy. And it builds a level of trust right from the beginning. Whereas copy on a web page really doesn’t do that. It’s informative. But it doesn’t create any personal connection.
So I think just having that mindset, that video can be, it’s an organic part of how you can communicate, it can be a very conversational medium, you don’t have to go overboard with heavy production and you just got to start thinking about, “I want to deliver this message, would video be a good way to do that?”, and just start trying it.
Businesses Seeking Way to Get Started
Even if you don’t have a dedicated producer or content person in house, now is the time to think about what are the simple ways I can dip my toe in. And that might be by doing Skype based interviews and recording them. It could be turning on your iPhone on a nice little tripod and recording some thought leadership content. It could be interviewing your customers on camera, and doing some really basic editing afterwards. And if you don’t know how to do video editing, like 20 minutes on YouTube, you’ll be an expert. It’s easier than ever. It’s more approachable than ever. My 10 year old son edits videos.
Small Business Trends: Wow.
Tyler Lessard: I think you just got to get started there. And think about how can I create some of this content to support my programs. And not every video has to be a big, viral sensation. It’s just got to support your sales process.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.