AM Online

Why a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words

By Hugh Dickerson

According to research in the UK, 32 million people watch YouTube videos every month. That’s 71% of the web population. Don’t go thinking this is just teenagers watching music videos – half of YouTube’s audience is over 35, according to ComScore.

  Hugh Dickerson is Google UK senior industry head of automotive

Hugh Dickerson is Google UK senior industry head of automotive and an AM Awards judge. He is responsible for developing digital brands in the UK.


This presents a fantastic opportunity for advertisers to convey their messages. According to Forrester Research’s Dr James McQuivey, “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”. Shoppers would seem to agree, with 96% saying they find videos helpful when making purchase decisions online, and nearly three quarters say they are more likely to buy after watching a product video.

Automotive is no exception. In Google’s annual research into the UK car buyer’s customer journey, we found online video was a key component in the decision-making process, with 75% of car shoppers saying they will use online video as they research their next car purchase.

This takes place at every step in the car-buying process, whether it is used to narrow down brand choices or to decide on features and specifications. These videos are highly influential, with 87% of viewers saying the videos they watched had a positive impact on their perception of a brand. Nor is the impact of online video limited to car sales – 70% of aftersales shoppers say online video has a positive impact on their purchase decision.

Looking at statistics like these, there is no doubt online video presents a huge opportunity to both manufacturers and dealers, but still the majority of auto-related content is either user-generated, by owners or enthusiasts, or created by journalists.

The result is manufacturers and dealers relinquishing control of their prospects’ research journeys and forcing them to hunt for video on third-party sites. This is dangerous as prospects could well be tempted by display advertising of competitor brands or dealerships served on those sites.


Tips for video success

While there is no magic formula, there are commonalities in great video content. You must provide viewers some value in exchange for their attention. This value can be in the form of education, entertainment and/or inspiration. Do this right and your customers will become brand champions, amplifying your message by sharing it on social media.

At Google, we often talk about hero, hub and hygiene being the three pillars of a successful online video strategy.

 Hub, hero or hygiene?


Magic Body Control


Arnold Clark Automobiles
We’re 60 for a reason


♦ Land Rover
In Transit with Peter Bragiel series


i10 walkaround: “There is definitely an attraction here”


Hero content is made up of inspirational ‘go big’ moments designed for mass awareness. For example, commercials for product launches or a brand campaign. Good examples of hero content are Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Magic Body Control’ video featuring dancing chickens (which has been watched more than 11 million times) or Arnold Clark’s ‘We’re 60 for a reason’ film celebrating its 60 years in business.

Hub content is entertainment or regularly scheduled ‘push’ videos aimed at a subset of your audience. A good example is Land Rover’s ‘In Transit’ series with Peter Bragiel, in which he crosses 25 US states in one month in a Land Rover, canoes the Mississippi, and takes a trip through Mexico and Central America. This is Land Rover’s way of telling its brand story in another voice.

Hygiene content consists of educational videos answering questions that prospects and customers may be actively posing. Examples are product walkarounds, customer testimonials and ‘how to’ aftersales content. This content should serve as 365-day ‘always on’ relevant content that will not go stale. Arnold Clark is again a good exponent of this, with its numerous car model reviews. Hyundai has also released some entertaining hygiene content for a number of its models, which has proved very successful.

The key is to get these videos in front of the right people at the right time. The secret to effective delivery is relevancy and targeting of your videos through remarketing. The first step is to ensure you are collecting audience data. You can then group consumers together who have looked at certain pages and create remarketing lists, which you can target with videos relevant to their stage in the purchase process.

For example, retarget consumers who have focused on a particular model on your website with video testimonials of drivers who own it. This remarketing method is both effective and efficient, meaning you don’t need a big budget.

With technology enabling more media on more devices than ever, consumers are in the driver’s seat. They choose to engage on their terms and only when content is relevant.

The great news is that with a cleverly targeted mix of hero, hub and hygiene videos, you can build a relationship with and win over these prospects.

So all you budding James Camerons out there, get producing some great online videos.

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