ROI of Website Videos

By Stephen Saugestad
December 5, 2010
Video

During the pitch/proposal phase we encounter a fair amount of skepticism regarding the use of video online, and whether its costs are merited. And rightly so. Adding a professionally produced video can significantly expand the budget, and it’s not a trivial sum for a business of any size. But the difficult question to answer is the one about ROI, as in: what do I get back for what I’m putting into this thing?

This article will provide some background on why the cost of a video (in the context of a website project) is difficult to measure in traditional ways (i.e. a purely monetary calculation of ROI). We’ll also explore the sometimes hidden advantages of using videos on a website, it’s oft understated utility, and unperceived value.


A video we produced and directed for Topnotch Resort in Stowe Vermont

Using Video

Here at Wallop, we‘re big proponents of video usage, especially in the context of building websites. We work with a handful of very talented video producers, so we relish the opportunity to incorporate them within the projects that we pitch. Assuming of course that it’s the right tool for the job.

Generally a well-crafted video makes a strong visual impact and serves as an emotional hook to engage the user. It’s also a means to communicate the “story” of the brand quickly and effectively. Using a more tanglible measurement, building a website that’s memorable and engaging is a good way to increase tactility and reduce bounce rates.

Measuring ROI

First, it’s important to note the difficulty in measuring the true ROI of a video within a website from a dollars and cents standpoint. There are a variety of reasons for this, which we’ll outline here.

  • A video is a statement of philosophy; a vehicle used to convey a message. It’s primarily used for storytelling, and to provide an emotional hook. It’s visceral, not pedantic.
  • Its impact is measured in viewership, the number of times it’s shared, the tactility (stickiness) it adds to the site, and how the amount of improvement it makes to the perception of the brand. Together and separately, these are all pathways that lead to an increase in sales. However we can only measure this objectively after we create and make observations over the life of the campaign.
  • It’s hard to establish a baseline because using the ROI metrics from another video or website project is comparing apples to oranges. The videos are different, they are accomplishing different things, the audience is different, the products they are selling are different, and they do not account for the myriad of external factors that influence online sales.
  • Video “types” have a lot to do with the measurability of ROI. If we’re talking about a product launch, you can easily measure the before and after sales numbers. If we’re building the brand and communicating a message, the measurement becomes more nebulous as the investment carries a longer cycle.
  • Each department within a business that is a party to a website has its own priorities, so the value of adding video will vary according to the advantages derived by each party. For example the sales and marketing will get more value than accounting.
  • Technically speaking a pure calculation of “spend X, viewed Y times, made Z sales” (ROI) is possible only after the fact. So it’s tough to quantify before the fact.

Utility

Another way to measure the value of a video to a website project is by looking at its value to the business from a bigger picture. You are likely creating a marketing piece that will become the strongest branding asset owned by your business.

A video may have multiple business applications such as:

  • traditional broadcasting (e.g. TV, radio, print – by creating tie-ins for radio and TV that drive people to the video on the web)
  • internal media usage (sales center displays, kiosks, welcome video for guestrooms, etc.)
  • sales and PR collateral
  • HR and recruiting efforts
  • providing an important benchmark for future web projects

Stated another way, the video has the potential to become a central cog in the delivery of multiple business solutions. It has direct application in PR, HR, marketing, sales, and advertising. With some foresight and smart planning, the video has the potential to solve a myriad of business problems.

In the examples above, the video needs to be properly leveraged in order to extract or unlock its true ROI. Therefore we know it has value, but it is difficult to put an exact dollar figure on it until we know all its applications.

So if we are comparing the traditional text + still photo website vs. video, we can say that the scope and utility of the former cannot be extended like the latter. It doesn’t extend beyond the confines of the website, while the video has multiple uses and creates new opportunities to launch new and innovative marketing efforts.

On set at the Hotel 1000 video shoot in Seattle, WA.

Video Usage on the Web

The use of video has increased dramatically over the past 5 years. As more and more information on the web vies for the user’s attention, a medium that conveys a message quickly and succinctly carries a huge advantage over the traditional “photo and text” model that requires a greater time (and thought) investment. The video provides an opportunity to quickly influence the customer and/or create intrigue. It introduces the product (or service) meaningfully to people with no previous exposure and forges a connection to the brand in a way that a still photo and text cannot do.

Research has shown that businesses that use video to sell their product have seen sharp increases in sales, even in cases where customers do not actually watch the videos. There are several reasons for this, one being the perception that the video creates about the company and the “implied trust”.

Click here, here, and here for further reading on the subject (the examples are mostly in retail):

The Long Term

Video has arrived, and it’s here to stay. Statistics confirm that users are increasing their absorption of video at a torrid pace. We believe there is a growing expectation from the consumer for businesses to provide them information in a medium that is easy to digest, and respects their demand for time and attention. A quick look at your competitors will probably tell you that there is an opportunity to differentiate your business from them.

And don’t forget that deriving value from the video is not a one-time proposition. It’s important to measure how often people watch the video, how often they share it, and how they interact with the video. This will provide useful data that can then be leveraged to increase future traffic and conversions.

We are not an advertising agency, and we don’t pretend to be. But we say a properly executed video can be an integral component of the marketing mix, where ROI can be collectively measured to make decisions regarding your overall marketing spend.

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