June 20, 2020

The following is republished with the permission of the Association of National Advertisers. Find this and similar articles on ANA Newsstand.

By Melinda McLaughlin

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." It's one of Warren Buffet's most famous quotes. And it goes to the heart of the calculation of return on investment (ROI), which, of course, is at the core of marketing success. Brand storytelling with sight, sound, and motion comes with a growing price. Video production costs run the gamut from very low (user-generated content) to very high (multiday shooting, with expensive talent). To bolster and exceed their ROI goals, marketers need systems and processes that enable their teams and partners to leverage produced assets without friction or slowdowns.

With the end goal of squeezing every ounce of value for every dollar spent, here are three ways for marketers of every stripe to generate maximum value from their video productions.

1. Connect talent and rights with media planning.

According to Extreme Reach estimates based on the company's market share of talent payments in 2019, marketers spend an estimated $2 billion annually to pay the performers in ads and the copyright holders of ancillary rights, such as original music, licensed music, and stock film footage, used in the production. These transactions — based on collective bargaining agreements between unions and the ad industry — are complex and strict. In simplified terms, payments are based on where (type of media destination, which screens, dayparts, stations, etc.) and when the ads run (in chunks of weeks, called "cycles").

While reaching the right audience, at the right time, in the right place is paramount, so is the consideration of talent cycles when crafting media strategies. Operating these two interrelated disciplines in separate silos can cost brands hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoidable expenses that offset the price-value relationship.

For example, a media strategy might call for brand ads to run on traditional linear TV for 14 weeks. Each cycle of talent payments for this media type is contracted at 13 weeks, so two cycles totaling 26 weeks would have to be funded for the campaign to run as planned. Maybe that 14th week is deemed absolutely essential, but, more likely, merging these two disciplines from the start would have saved the brand considerable costs.

2. Centralize video assets and rights data.

Marketers and their in-house and outside agencies produce more types of video content in a growing number of shapes and sizes than ever before. Furthermore, these assets are deployed across a growing number of screens and devices. It makes intuitive sense that all of these finished assets, and the multiple video elements at their core, should be neatly organized, along with rights data, in one secure cloud platform for maximum use, but also with tight controls.

The critical need for video asset centralization became rapidly apparent during the coronavirus pandemic. After losing the ability to produce original content via traditional ways, brands began scrambling to tell their stories and engage their audiences with existing assets. Some of the inspiring creativity that has emerged during the pandemic feature ads that leverage archived video assets. The rights were renewed and valuable pieces were assembled, either on their own or combined with other assets, to create compelling brand stories.

Standouts include Jeep's repurposing of its Groundhog Day spot, which premiered during this year's Super Bowl, updated with stay-at-home messaging; a Budweiser spot featuring classic footage of a Clydesdale horse racing past national landmarks, along with a message of hope for the future; and Bud's "Whassup Checking In," which revives the brand's iconic Whassup? ad campaign from 1999, with new dialogue related to the pandemic.

Another great example: FedEx's "Our People" ad, which features archival footage of FedEx employees to underscore the company's commitment to delivering medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and keeping essential stores stocked during the pandemic.

While the catalyst for transforming video asset management was sparked by a severe crisis, the resulting innovation will pay off handsomely for marketers as they seek to gain maximum value from the price they pay to produce stories that engage and drive their audiences to purchase.

3. Establish a well-oiled reuse machine.

With all video assets, from individual elements to the final spot ready for air, living in one secure, permission-based cloud platform, the opportunities to extract maximum value increases exponentially. At the same time, by automating aspects of the request and approval process for the reuse of assets, it becomes easier for marketers to ensure compliance and tally the total savings derived from eliminating unnecessary duplication of production work.

The reuse of perfected video elements, strategically bringing a spot back into active status, and/or sharing a catalog of approved video assets for use at the local level, all make good business sense. Controlling and tracking such efforts with integrated ROI tracking ensures maximum value at any price point and availability of data that marketers can use to report back on the value leveraged relative to production costs.

As marketers continue to pursue overall ROI on complex, multifaceted plans, one key element — return on production investment — is now possible.

When media planning and buying happen in collaboration with precise talent and rights management, and video assets are centralized, an easy system for ensuring precision compliance and tracking reuse is at hand.

With these disciplines in place, marketing teams can move faster while also extracting more demonstrable value from great storytelling.

About Author:  Melinda McLaughlin is the CMO at Extreme Reach, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program.

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