As a medium, video has the inherent power to tell a story in an imaginative and captivating way, blending scripts and copy with audio, compelling visual images, sound effects and soundtrack. Broadcast news discovered this long ago. As news publishers made their own entrees into the digital space, they also began to leverage video as an engaging way to tell stories and cover the news online and via mobile apps.
But video can also be a source of revenue for news organizations. Mike Martoccia, vice president of digital at Adams Publishing Group (APG), encourages his peers in the industry to think of video in a new way and create a "video monetization strategy."
APG did precisely that, leveraging the talent and resources already within the organization’s agency to create marketing videos for clients who may or not be advertisers with their news titles.
Martoccia explained, “It’s a strategic solution we offer to any size business, but specifically to small- and medium-sized businesses. We find they are the ones that don’t have a strategic approach to video or to storytelling about their product and services, and they probably need the most help out there.”
Founded in 2004, Vimeo is a platform dedicated to helping its customers create, collaborate on and distribute video content, including digital advertising. The company reports that approximately 350,000 new videos are created on its platform every day, from big brands like Coca-Cola, Hearst Media and Starbucks to small businesses and non-profits. In 2021, the company made two strategic acquisitions, buying Wirewax and Wibbitz, adding artificial intelligence (AI)-driven content creation and interactive video functionality to its toolset.
Caitland Conley, a content strategist with Vimeo.com, asserted in a 2021 blog that there are three types of videos every small business owner should make:
Video platform Lemonlight suggests “67 Video Marketing Stats You Need to Know for 2022,” in which the company draws some conclusions based on a 2021 marketing survey it conducted. The study gleaned that “76% of marketing teams surveyed invested in video production in the last three years. Of those, 44% tackled production internally; 28% hired a production company; and 23% hired freelance support.”
A whopping 98% of the survey respondents "believe that video will play an important role in marketing over the coming years," and "81% of marketers believe that video will play an important role in marketing over the coming years."
“Video is a great way to tell the story of your product or service,” APG’s Martoccia concurred.
It’s a message he’s “taken on the road” to recent industry conferences, but APG’s conversations about video monetization date back to February 2021.
APG was looking for a video editing and production solution for editorial coverage — a tool its newsrooms might use across its more than 100 markets — when they sat for a demo of the cloud-based video creation platform, Wochit.
It was one of those “lightbulb moments,” he recalled.
With additional licenses to the app and the creative talent already in-house, APG could offer video production services to clients without adding any additional staff, Martoccia noted. One of the first things they did was ask their graphic artists across the organization who had an interest in working on creative video, and "a lot of people raised their hands," he recalled.
Training on the solution took roughly an hour. In addition to the graphic designers who took part, APG had its advertising team train on it, as well, so they would be fully versed in the capabilities and possibilities.
“We started out with six test markets in April of last year,” Martoccia said. The initiative was so successful that APG rolled it out across all of its markets.
Video is now a "conversation starter" for its ad sales teams. "We ask clients, 'What is your video strategy,' and often, they don't have one, so that's our opportunity to show them a few examples of videos we've produced for other businesses. All we require of them is about 10 to 12 assets — photos of their products, services or businesses. Everybody has that, but we have access to over a billion Getty Images if they don't.
"Then we ask what they want the script to say, what the message should be in the 30-second spot, and whether they'd like a voiceover or background music. In about seven to 10 days, our artists turn out the first proof, to which the customers can then request changes before we do a final edit," Martoccia explained.
"Once we finish the video, we hand it to the business owner and immediately ask them to share it on their website and share it across their social media networks. We also ask them where they'd like us to deliver the ad to gain more revenue and more customers. Because if they're just sharing it with their regular audience, through social media or their websites, you're not going to gain new customers that way, nor grow revenue. We can deliver it to programmatic audiences for them," he explained.
"The cool thing about video marketing is there are just so many ways or places you can deliver it strategically,” he added. If the news publisher is retained for video-ad delivery, it can also provide important insight to the client, engagement analytics and brand reach. Martoccia estimated that about 10% of their customers, so far, only want the video production service, with 90% relying on APG for distribution.
Clients are asked to contract with APG for a minimum three-month campaign, though most sign on for 6-12 months, Martoccia reported.
“We recommend to them that a business owner these days needs to have a fresh and relevant video out at least once a month,” he said.
One of the things they’ve discovered in the first full year of production is that there’s a pricing “sweet spot” for most of their clientele. Small and mid-sized businesses, he said, cannot invest thousands of dollars each month in a new video, but few balk at a marketing investment of $500 a month, and for that price point, APG can deliver a product that’s effective and engaging, he said. It also means about a 40% profit margin for APG.
Clients searching for longer videos and something more customized can tap into APG's in-house agency, The High Road Agency, for a more sophisticated video that might cost upwards of $2,500 to $5,000 to produce. Still, those customers represent a tiny fraction of customers — about 1%, he estimated.
Asked about “copyright,” or who “owns” the video once it’s completed, Martoccia explained that the customer technically owns its assets but that APG “owns the rights to editing that video.”
“If you want to make any future edits or changes, we reserve the right to own that opportunity,” he said.
APG has now produced video ads for an array of clients — many in the services industries, like local restaurants, and in product categories, too, such as furniture and home décor stores.
Heading into a mid-term election year, APG has also capitalized on political video advertising.
“We’ve produced videos for local judges and sheriff candidates, but also for candidates running for the House of Representatives or U.S. Senate,” he said. “They’ve got lots of dollars that they have to spend, so we’ve really monetized the political category this year.”
E&P asked Martoccia about his experiences traveling the country and speaking with his peers — specifically whether he's encountered other news outlets that are producing videos with revenue as the goal. "I was trying to think of another company that might be doing it right with video, but one doesn't come to mind,."
Gretchen A. Peck is a contributing editor to Editor & Publisher. She's reported for E&P since 2010 and welcomes comments at email@example.com.
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