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How do you design creative that drives high engagement on a tight budget? How can you manage your design team efficiently without blunting creativity? This week, experts from the 3Q Creative and Social teams will be answering these questions and more by sharing tips and tactics they’ve learned over years of running high-impact campaigns with highly engaging creative.

The days of spending $50K+ for a :30 video spot are over. Easy access to the tools, talent, and know-how for developing high-impact, thumb-stopping video content is making quality video production less expensive and more available to everyone. Big brands with huge TV ad budgets are no longer the only ones creating awesome video content. More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day, and 72 Hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds. Video on social media platforms is now ubiquitous. And that video content is not only great for brand awareness, but is also a highly effective means of driving direct response. In fact, some studies show marketers who use video grew revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

So how is it done? How do we develop professional video on a shoestring budget? 

1. Masterful Storytelling

The most important ingredient in developing compelling and highly engaging video content is your storytelling. Developing the right concept, and then writing hard-hitting copy to deliver that concept, is the key to success. It is important to invest in copywriting talent that can develop scripts and story lines that draw audiences in, and keep them leaning into their screens. Having a phenomenal concept and then developing the right copy to tell that story is what will make your video content engage with audiences and perform well.

And a key to developing an effective concept and achieving masterful storytelling is knowing who (and where) your audiences are, what their preferences are, and what stories they want to hear. Collecting accurate audience data, and knowing how to analyze and interpret this data, are important parts of the process in developing the right concept and then writing the right script to execute on that story.

Takeaway #1: Invest in creative talent and script writing, and in audience data collection/analysis

2. Video Length

It may seem obvious that longer video content will be more expensive, and that is true: most video production shops determine cost based on video length and charge by the :60 or :30 of edited, produced video. But what may not be as obvious is that with each minute that passes, viewer retention drops. The average viewer attention span has dropped significantly now that video content is so accessible. After 30 seconds of viewing, only about 80% of your audience is still watching. If your video stretches on to the 2-minute mark, you can expect about only half of your viewers to stick around.

The easiest way to keep costs down is to consolidate your video content into a shorter, more efficient message. This will lower your per-minute cost and your hourly cost and increase the number of viewers who actually watch your video from start to finish. Most video ads on Facebook and other social media platforms perform best when they are under :30 seconds, and many now require shorter video lengths. Facebook’s new mid-roll format is required to be :15 seconds or less (this is video ad content that plays after :20 seconds of the primary video). For Snapchat’s :10 second video format, the sweet spot for performance is :04 – :07 seconds. The sweet spot for TrueView ads on YouTube is between :30 and :45 seconds.

Takeaway #2: To keep costs down, develop a powerful script that will tell a compelling story in under 30 seconds.

3. Animated vs. Live Action

When considering what type of story you want to tell, think about whether animation or live action (or a combination of both) is the best way to get your message across. Animation can be great for explaining a complex product, service, or business model. Live action, whether it is free, purchased/stock, or custom shot footage, can be great for engaging particular audiences and telling a relatable story. Within each of these types there are higher- and lower- cost ways of accomplishing your video’s content objectives.

Animation: Custom animation vs. motion graphics

Animation can be a powerful and inexpensive way to tell a brand or product story without having to rent camera and lighting equipment, shoot in studio or on location, hire talent, and edit hours of footage. Animation is great for explainer videos, allowing for simple visuals to explain complex products or multi-part processes. If you have the budget, you can create custom illustrations and develop custom animation. Developing characters for animated video is often very effective, as it connects with people. People and faces are relatable, help gain viewer attention, and make your video more memorable. But these types of characters need to be custom-illustrated and animated for movement. Developing this kind of animated video can be time-intensive and potentially expensive.

On the lower end of cost for developing animated video content is motion graphics: taking existing photographic, illustrated, or other digital assets and creating the simple illusion of motion using software such as Adobe After Effects (AE) or Cinema 4D. What is great about motion graphics is that you can leverage existing assets, or purchase inexpensive high-quality assets from a number of premium stock providers. Getting creative with the style of simple motion graphics animation is a key to creating effective but inexpensive video. What can make an inexpensive motion graphics video highly effective is the concept and copy that accompanies the animation as voice over (VO) and/or captioning. See for example this short animated video we developed for Rippling:

Takeaway #3: If choosing an animated video, keep costs down with simple motion graphics that leverage high-quality original assets and great copy.

Live Action: Existing b-roll assets or stock footage

Live action video is a recording of either still or moving objects, and can refer to any cinematography or videography that does not make use of animations. The nice thing about live action is that you can create a very compelling, professional-looking, polished video using existing assets or b-roll. B-roll is the extra footage that is captured when filming that can be used to fill in or enrich a story, and that gives flexibility when editing. If your marketing department doesn’t already have existing video b-roll assets, then you can obtain high-quality, inexpensive footage through stock video providers such as Adobe, Shutterstock, or VideoBlocks. You can now even find stock b-roll that is shot in HD or 4K. Layer over this shiny stock b-roll footage with some hard-hitting captioning copy and a VO (voiceover), and you have an inexpensive, professional-looking video whose only costs are: stock footage, time to edit sound and footage, and time to develop script.

Takeaway #4: Use existing b-roll or purchase high-quality stock footage, and spend the majority of your budget on skillful editing and quality copywriting to develop stunning, low-budget video content.

4. Streamline the Process

One of the biggest costs of any creative project is the amount of billable time spent on back and forth between the client and the team on everything from concept, copy, design strategy, and creative execution. This is especially true when developing video: the ability to nail down and agree on the video’s objectives, concept, script, assets, and other deliverable requirements will allow the team designing and developing the video to keep costs down by focusing on production and editing, not on countless rounds of feedback and revision. Asking the right questions up front, and developing a solid project plan, will help keep things on track so that budget stays focused on developing polished, quality video content, not on endless back and forth.

Takeaway #5: keep development costs down by nailing down video objectives, establishing clear creative requirements, and streamlining your development process. Planning and project management are critical to success.

Conclusion

In 2017, one-third of all online activity was spent watching video. 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. The video content revolution is here; it’s happening now. If you aren’t developing video assets for your marketing programs, you are leaving money on the table.

If you are looking to develop high-quality video for advertising content, or any aspect of your marketing, then working with an agency that is set up for high-quality, data-driven video development can help keep your budget low and your turnaround times fast. 3Q Digital’s Video Studio is set up to develop the videos we know your audiences want to see, and optimize that video content for the channels and platforms your audiences spend the most time on. From creative strategy, script writing, and concept development to storyboarding, production, and sound editing, our streamlined process and creative genius ensures our clients get hard-hitting, thumb-stopping, high-performing video content quickly and inexpensively. Make sure you are doing it right, and make sure you aren’t paying too much. Contact us to learn more or see more examples of work we’ve done.