Updated: Apr 7, 2020
It’s a horrifying video content crime.
High quality video creative that goes unoptimized or under-optimized. Ba ba bum! Gasp! This mistake is a silent video content killer.
Not sure what I mean by un/under-optimized? Then, there’s a very good chance you’re a victim of one or both (so keep reading).
Unoptimized Video Creative
Unoptimized is just a fancy word for a video not playing at its highest level of quality. How does this happen?
Video is not one file size fits all. Different platforms require different specs. That’s why it is so important you have a content strategy before you begin any video production. You’ve got to plan your play. What do you want to accomplish with your video creative? Most importantly, where are you planning to use the content?
You’ve got your website, social media channels, email blasts, television. Video needs to be optimized specifically for each platform. That’s why it's so critical you know where you want to use the video(s) prior to production.
Take story mode on Instagram for example. We shoot 16:9 for television, whereas Instagram stories and IGTV are best filmed as 9:16. If you upload a 16:9 to IGTV or stories, the clip will play, but the video will appear much smaller and of lower quality.
As for resolution, you need to think beforehand about what video player is going to support the content.
You don't want to be charged more for shooting video in 4K if your website only supports HD quality. It's common for users to upload a video file and just assume it’s going to play in the highest possible resolution. That's simply not true. YouTube, for example, selects default settings for resolution. You have to go in and change the settings to your preferred playback resolution. So if you did shoot a production in 4K, you want to change the resolution setting to 4K.
I realize this is getting somewhat technical. So let me stop and give you an analogy.
Poorly optimized video is like watching a 3D IMAX movie with no 3D glasses, the curtain only pulled back halfway across the screen, and an unusually tall person sitting directly in front of you on his phone for the entirety of the film.
Is this what you want for your audience? You’ve invested resources into this beautiful piece of creative, and your audience has rewarded your efforts by pressing play! Don’t you want to give them the proper experience? They deserve to watch the creative in its purest form.
Optimizing video is so simple for those experienced in video production, but they need to know your content strategy ahead of time. Have this conversation early on in preproduction, so your team can extract the highest possible quality from the video content for all platforms.
Under-optimized Video Creative
Now, let’s say you’ve taken the right steps in preproduction. You know where you want to promote this content. You’ve gone over the file sizes, and it’s been shot and exported to the highest quality for each individual platform.
Great! There’s my A+ student! Fist bump. Can’t wait to watch it.
If I could just find the video. It’s not on the landing page. Ok, hang on a second. Let me scroll a bit. Let me check the “About” section. Is it on YouTube? Where is the link?
No customer would actually search this hard to watch a video. They’ve been gone for awhile now. Under-optimized video is the term we use for video that is hidden from your audience or video that doesn’t direct viewers to a point of sale.
Too often I see amazing pieces of video creative at the very bottom of the homepage, or the bottom of another section of the site. It hurts my heart people. It really does.
You invested in a valuable brand building tool that (ideally) shares who you are, what you do and showcases your unique capabilities. Place it somewhere your audience can actually see it! Don’t make them work to find it, because they won’t.
Perhaps, a far worse sin (and I see it all the time) is placing a highly produced video amongst dated video content that’s of poor quality.
Strategy extends to determining the lifespan of video creative as well. Some content comes with an expiration date, and other pieces are designed for a longer shelf life. When the time comes for something new, update and cycle out what no longer supports your strategic goals.
Don’t let old, poorly produced pieces of creative lurk around on your website or social channels like a creepy distant uncle at the family reunion.
Just take the video(s) out of rotation.
Finally, embed the video properly. Video should always seek to keep your customer at a point of sale. In other words, you don’t want a video click to take your customer somewhere else. You want to direct them to and keep them on your website.
Poor optimization is not a victimless crime.
Your brand building effort suffers, and your audience takes note of the infraction. It doesn’t need to happen. It’s such a simple wrong to right. Take preproduction seriously. Be clear with your video production person or team about where this content is going to live, and its intended use. Review the content currently in rotation. Determine if your old pieces of creative are strong enough in both message and style to be placed with your new video production.
Now, will your audience recognize a properly optimized piece of video? Probably not, but that’s the whole point. The audience shouldn’t notice anything other than a perfect viewing experience that’s wholly reflective of your organizations creative efforts.
So optimize my friends. Together we can make un/under-optimized video nothing more than a distant memory.
An unpleasant, grainy, smushed, stretched, pixilated distant memory.