Crossing the Line in Video Marketing

Crossing The Line

Remember the salad days of broadcast TV and how the commercials were often so much louder than the shows?

Well, here’s an Internet video twist on that same kind of thing:

This video from Motley Fool takes a pretty aggressive tack towards presenting information to you. The video itself is a pitch for their newsletter, “The Motley Fool Stock Advisor.” (I was a subscriber in the past and I do believe they offer some sound advice, but I am not an expert so I can’t or won’t advise on investments.)

If you look at it, the first thing you’ll note is that there’s no indication of its’ length. (That’s a kind of sneaky marketing technique you can easily do via Adobe Flash.) There’s also no way to fast-forward ”“to escape that part of the message you don’t really want to hear. Perhaps even worse”¦ where’s the “PAUSE” button? What if I get a phone call in the middle of this?

Even after those turn-offs, I still wanted to watch the video. It was quite long, by Internet standards ”“around 20 minutes, total. It was also a pretty compelling pitch for their publication ”“and that was fine.

But! -had I known it would be so long, I would’t have watched it. There’s nothing illegal or morally wrong about doing this. I was, after all, free to turn it off at any time -and I didn’t.

This cuts both ways. As a video producer, it’s a technique you should know about. As a viewer, I found it going against the grain of web video.

Why do I say that?

Simple. YouTube sets the standard for how people expect to control online videos!

I expect to be able to pause a video, view the overall length and the progress I’ve made, back it up to listen to a section again, jump to the middle or end of the video. We’ve come to expect these features in online video. When a company goes out of its way to lock out those features, I feel cheated.

This is a new age of marketing. Thanks to social media like Facebook and YouTube, it’s no longer acceptable to just give prospective customers a straight commercial about why you and your product are great. You need to give the customer more control. You need to involve them in the discussion. That’s what blogs and social media do – involve the reader. 

I suppose their marketing guy is considered a genius for delivering this kind of pitch. But I wouldn’t call him that.

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8 thoughts on “Crossing the Line in Video Marketing

  1. Doc (Steve) Yankee

    Bingo, Hal! You make a huge point here – “YouTube sets the standard for how people expect to control online videos.” We are truly in an age (like it or not) of permission-based marketing. Videos that start and run with no control are a turn-off to most viewers, just as highly-compressed audio tracks of fast-talking pitchmen are on TV. “Apply directly to forehead! Apply directly to forehead!” How awful.

  2. Vincent

    I know of the Fools from a very good book I read of theirs and subsequently their website – so I was already predisposed to listening to the message… after 3 interruptions, noticing the infomercial familiar manipulations and not knowing how long this was going to go on for (I’m busy fer chris’ sake) I exited. It also got too repetitive in style – I can only tolerate so many hooks with no satisfaction… So I guess I miss out on the ‘free’ information you get by taking up the half price offer. Crucially for them, I stopped caring and they lost me. Damn what’s with the comment “worth just over $374,549”? [or what ever the amount was – I couldn’t rewind] Did they mean 27 or 82 cents more?? IMHO this video as marketing material failed bigtime.

  3. Russ

    100% correct with your assumption about how ‘Net savvy users will react to this video. I stopped watching it after a short while. I just didn’t like the idea of being “force fed” the information without being able to “cut to the chase”. If customers don’t stick around for the entire message, what’s the point?

  4. Bill

    Horrible, reminds me of that interminable “end of America” video, which is about 45 minutes long. I’m sorry I called it a video. Neither of these are video in the real sense, it’s a transcribed piece of audio. The End of America radio spots are hilarious…”contains explicit content” or some such. Would it really have been that difficult to get some royalty free video, even stock photos. Rule #1: Be entertaining. These are not.

  5. Brian

    I’ve written to several IM marketers expressing these same thoughts. I think it’s a mark of enormous disrespect to viewers to deny them control over the video – and stupid as well. If I have to interrupt a 15- or 20-minute video for some reason, I’m probably not going to come back and suffer through what I’ve already seen.

    If I’m really interested in one of these videos, I use DownloadHelper on Firefox and I can usually download the video. Then I view it – at my convenience, and with all of the controls that the Windows Media Player gives me.

  6. Graham

    I too have been guilty of watching a full 20+ minutes of mindless, “Have I told you how good I am,” video. Watching, waiting, hoping that this was the one, this was the video which would deliver the information that the pre-sell said it would.

    Okay, so I now know that the word, “naive,” has been removed from the dictionary.

    Now, as soon as I see no controls on the screen, my reaction is instant. Blood pressure goes up, eyes cloud over, ears fail and the mouse hand hits the exit at Olympic Gold speed.

    I also make the occasional video and my viewers will always have total control.

  7. TJ

    So, what was the “ONE “NO CHOICE” FUEL COMPANY miles ahead of the competition”??? I couldn’t stomach it either. lol

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