Oreo: early adopter of micro-video platforms
Oreo: early adopter of micro-video platforms
A view from Jarrod Payne

Micro-video: how brands should tackle 2014's hottest medium

Short bursts of audio-visual are going to become more important for brands this year. Jarrod Payne, associate account director at Millward Brown South Africa, explains how to explore the medium.

If 2014 is the year of anything, it’ll be the year of micro-video. The rise of the ultra short form film in 2013 might have surprised many – after all what can you say in a few seconds – but already smart brands are starting to master this medium.

From Oreo’s movie spoofs and how to videos through to Samsung’s stop-motion creative displays and good old-fashioned humour from brands like Tide, a vibrant communication channel has been developed for those brands willing to take the plunge.

Micro-video is fast evolving and the number of platforms looking to take on Twitter’s Vine, which created the channel, has risen rapidly.

Vine allows six-second looping videos but already there are a host of competitors, including Instagram video (15 seconds), MixBit (16 seconds), Tumblr GIFs (short animated images, similar to Vine) as well as numerous smaller players like Viddy, Qwiki, Tout and Klip.

Those looking to consume their micro-video in larger chunks can also view aggregated clips on YouTube in which hundreds of micro-video are compiled into 10-minute reels.

Promise of engagement

Micro-video offers the promise of more engagement than traditional online video, with branded Vines four times more likely to be shared than traditional online video.

Added to this, the mobile-based nature of micro-video and its expansion onto sites like YouTube, means that micro-video may have the potential to further increase a brand’s reach by providing additional touch points within the digital space.

The plus points for consumers is that the time commitment is small, making them more willing to watch, but brands still need to be aware of the following:

  • Micro-video films need to be entertaining, informative or intriguing. This is currently a push medium so entertainment value is critical.
  • Typically, consumer films are shot on a mobile and the lo-tech aesthetic is important; quick rather than slick should be the watch-word.
  • Micro-videos are short and thus brands need to adopt simple visual cues that make the brand clear right from the start. Audi and Samsung place the products they produce at the core of their micro-video, making them a key part of the action.

Unique audience

Marketers may be tempted towards the longer timeframe offered by Instagram, since 15-seconds is closer to a traditional TV execution, but this risks not taking advantage of the unique audience that both Vine and Tumblr provide.

Getting the creative and the tone right, but the best time to experiment with a new opportunity is when it’s just arrived.

Since both Vine and Tumblr are mobile-focused apps, they are able to reach consumers, particularly younger ones, that are not served by other digital channels. Although full stats for Vine are not yet available, the platform is showing massive growth (403% user growth in 2013) albeit from a small base. The audience for Tumblr is significantly more niche (used by only 6% of the online population in the US) and younger (mostly 18-29) than the general population.

At the moment, micro-video branded content is shared virally as opposed to paid promotion, but if the history of advertising on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube repeats itself then there will soon be commercialised advertising.

Brands should always remember, however, that the existence of a platform does not necessitate a presence. Rather, marketers must make fundamental decisions about where they should be active, how appropriate these formats are to their target consumers before embarking in on a micro-video strategy.

Getting the creative and the tone right within these restricted formats is not straightforward, but the best time to experiment with a new opportunity is when it’s just arrived.

In 2014 many more brands will follow the lead of Coca-Cola, Oreo and Red Bull and explore this space.