Christian Media

What BMW Knows About Videos That Churches Need to Learn

I’ve written many times on the power of short videos and how Christian organizations can benefit from their incredible popularity. Now, Michael Goefron, writing for MediaPost shares some secrets about why major brands like BMW are expanding and using longer form videos. As I read his article, I found a few things that stood out that churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations could learn. Here’s what Michael had to say along with my application after each point:

1. Long-Form Videos Build Deeper Connections, Especially with Luxury Consumers.
Any advertiser will tell you that traditional, short-form video greatly boosts brand recognition. While this can be essential for a great deal of brands, for household names like Burberry and BMW, brand recognition is a foregone conclusion. However, if you would like to build an emotional association with your brand, emotion deepens the longer a viewer watches your ad. A recent study conducted by Google found that a 2-minute ad was more effective at raising brand favorability than a 15-second version of that same ad. Longer-form video does wonders for brand affinity, which is a key next step deeper into a brand’s relationship with its customers.

My application: If nobody knows about your organization, start with short videos to raise awareness. But if you’re a known entity in your community, then start expanding. As the research indicates, longer videos (when they’re compelling) help develop the emotional relationship with your audience. (But those videos had better be compelling!)

2. Consumers Are Embracing Social Video Like Never Before
Burberry’s ad may be playing in select theaters nationwide, but it debuted online, where consumers are becoming more receptive to video advertising. According to CNBC, social media ad spend is expected to eclipse newspaper ad spend by 2020. Luxury has shown to be particularly committed; Publicis Groupe predicts digital will be the largest luxury advertising medium in 2017, overtaking print and TV, accounting for 32.1% of total spend by such brands. Because it’s a passive, broad form of entertainment, television advertisers always must be wary of appealing to the largest group of people possible. Online advertising, including social video, on the other hand, has become so refined in its behavioral and demographic targeting that you can deliver to the exact audience that chooses to watch your videos. By directly targeting audiences who opt in to watch their content, advertisers can afford to be more experimental with ad length.

My application: Target, target, target. Most Christian organizations make the mistake of thinking they can appeal to everyone. Remember – Jesus was rejected in his own hometown, so chances are, you can’t reach everyone. The question is – who are the people most likely to respond to your message? Based on your gifts, talent, passion, resources, and calling, who would be likely to engage with your message? Focus on that audience and you’ll get more traction.

3. Consumers’ Quality Standards Are Increasing
One of the biggest challenges the ad industry grappled with this year was the widespread adoption of ad-blockers. One in five smartphone users blocks web browser advertising, a 90% year-over-year increase, according to PageFair. How do you reach an audience that’s avoiding ads at record rates? Make ads they like, of course, and narrative and cinematic storytelling help in that regard. We are far away from the days of pre-roll when digital ads were considered more or less an extension of TV. Luxury brands like Burberry and BMW are clearly emulating Hollywood blockbusters with longer run-times and stronger narratives. Because of the deeper connections to long-form advertising, luxury brands’ refined customer base, consumers’ acceptance of social video and increased quality standards, we can only expect more trailer-like ads going forward. Who knows, the Academy Awards might need to create a new category in the future.

My application: It’s a tough world out there, and getting your message heard through today’s clutter and distractions is tougher than ever. That’s why we need to be studying the culture and learning what’s working and what isn’t. I recently attended a “digital summit” in Hollywood and some of the information they revealed has changed the way I approach short videos. Too many Christian producers are creating videos that look like they were produced a decade ago. Get the best advice. The world is changing, and we need to adapt how we communicate. It doesn’t mean we water down the message, it simply means that if we’re not speaking the language of the culture, we might as well go home.

Anything in particular you’re doing to stay on top of a changing culture?

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  1. Phil, this seems spot on. Great post and perhaps a real winner is executed correctly. Your closing remark seems to have stuck with me most about, “speaking the language of the culture.”

  2. This is all fantastic information and advice – especially the point about quality and the apparently lack thereof in much Christian media. What do you think is the best way to change that? I’m trying hard to produce quality content myself, but in general what are some effective ways to increase the quality of content?

    1. Start by getting your audio perfected. It’s the single element of your production that will set you apart. Consumers will not watch a video with bad audio even if it has an amazing image with stunning lighting. The ears overrule the eyes. Every time.

      If you can (and you should), hire a professional sound man for your productions. The cost of first-rate audio gear, or an excellent, experienced sound man, is an investment in quality, not an expense.

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