Taking Stock of Video

by | Aug 1, 2012

We ask how the video footage from amplified events can be used more effectively over time to improve return on investment.

The summer is a great opportunity to review event materials and see how things are going as part of the longer tail of your amplified event. I have just started a summer project examining the return on investment for event amplification as a support service for event organisers, and decided to start with the low hanging fruit: event video footage.

Most of the event amplification plans that I put into action involve video in some way, usually in the form of recording presentations or conducting video interviews. I tend to use Vimeo or YouTube to host these videos, which means that detailed viewing statistics are publicly available. However, upon reviewing many of these videos, I am seeing a worrying trend towards low viewer numbers over time for many of these resources.

Vimeo statistics dashboard for a reasonably healthy video. Few look like this!


There might be many reasons for this: the videos may be very long and therefore represent too great a time investment for the target audience to watch, the videos may be too specialist in nature, they may have been intended for a very small audience in the first place, or they may not have been used or promoted by the client after delivery.

The latter leads me to worry that organisers are often not thinking longer term about their event materials and how they can be amplified over time. Once I have amplified the live event and provided all of the post event materials, my invoice is paid and technically I have no influence over how the materials are used or exploited after this point. It is then down to the event organiser to make the most of those materials, which may not be practical for many reasons. I may need to change my business model to combat this, perhaps offering longer term amplification after an event, or more consultancy for clients to help them to make the most out of their event materials.

How should we measure video ROI?

I referred to video content as low hanging fruit in terms of return on investment. This is because of all my amplification activities, this is the easiest one to relate directly to cost. I know how much it cost the client for me to produce the videos, so I can divide this by the number of views to calculate the cost per view for the video. Simple. As the number of views increases over time, the cost per view decreases and the videos therefore become better value for the client.

However, as with a live video stream, the organiser needs to clearly define what success looks like for each individual video they request in order to provide a benchmark against which we can measure the success of that video. Success for an hour long lecture in an extremely niche subject area may be only 5 or 6 views, provided those viewers are the right people. A 40-minute talk by a high profile keynote might be expected to attract much higher viewer numbers across a wider range of disciplines. One video may be produced purely to satisfy the ego of a difficult speaker, so the number of viewers it attracts may not be important, whilst another video may be intended to be used intensively a year down the line when the organiser is promoting the next event, so the viewer numbers before that point would be less significant.

It may be safe to assume that in most cases the higher the number of views and therefore the lower the unit cost per view, the better. However, unless the organiser has clearly defined what they intend to use the video for and how they hope it will be used over time, it is difficult to map viewer statistics against the organiser’s aims to ensure that the resource is actually delivering the type of return required.

Increasing video ROI over time

Here are a few strategies I have been using, or intend to make greater use of in the future, as a result of my research in this area:

1. Have a plan

All videos are not created equal. When you plan which sessions of your event to record, or who to interview, consider who you expect to watch those videos and how you intend to use them. Each planned video should be considered separately, as they may all have very different aims. As an event amplifier, this will help me to plan how to use the footage, and how to measure the success of the amplification of that footage.

2. Embed in multiple places

I have recently taken to embedding event materials on Lanyrd as well as on official event websites to help increase exposure. However, there may be other forums where specific videos may be useful to both the event community and any overlapping communities. Work with your event amplifier to identify a list of appropriate places for each individual video. As a professional event amplifier working across a number of different overlapping disciplines, I am in the fairly unique position of being able to offer additional value to event organisers by effectively cross-pollinating between communities. You should also encourage your speakers to share video footage of their own sessions on their own websites or forums. Don’t just embed it on your event website and hope for the best!

3. Know what you’ve got

If you have a list of materials that is easily accessible, there is more chance that you will be able to share a relevant video should it become topical again at any point in the future. There are automated ways to measure the buzz around particular keywords or phrases and receive an alert, which could help trigger you to share a particular video. More on this in a later post.

4. Plan to reuse

Identify periods where news stories may be scarce, such as the summer period, and schedule social media updates featuring videos that may have otherwise dropped off the radar. This works particularly well for shorter videos, such as video interviews and or lightning talks, which you can promote for people to watch as a kind of “lunchtime snack”. Remember to explain what the video is and why it is useful to help sell it to your followers. If you want to promote longer videos, pull out the key highlights to help potential viewers decide if it really is worth the hour of their valuable time required to watch in full.

Image Credit: Mindfieldz.
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