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Home » Engagement, industry research

Why video is killing the old white paper for marketers seeking thought leadership prominence

Submitted by on May 14, 2012 – 8:14 am3 Comments

We’re on the tools beat again this morning. Last week we looked at a McKinsey survey of business executives who showed their growing fondness for social networking and, in particular, video sharing. Today, we look a bit deeper into the latter phenomenon to show just how companies are deploying video to position themselves. 

The study comes from the trade publication Chief Marketer (its findings were summarized in eMarketer), saying that while email and a visible social media presence are now standard digital marketing tools, a new category to emerge on radar screens this year is video. SMI readers probably won’t be surprised by this finding. After all, as we reported last month, the ad revenues around social+video combined now represents a £443 million market in the UK alone. These two are the fastest growing segments of digital.

Let’s take a closer look at how video is being deployed. Chief Marketer found that video is at least as popular as display and pay-per-clicks advertising, and now more popular than commissioning white papers. (Not good news for freelance scribes who cannot work a camera to save their lives).

Video is being used to both boost web presence (aka, SEO standing) and to deliver thought leadership, a point we derive from the number of “niche” firms that are investing in webinars.  Here’s the full findings in chart form:


  • Thanks for sharing these findings. In today’s social era, followers are influenced more by those thought leaders who engage with them using video, both recorded and live, news-breaking and evergreen content, how-to’s and commentary, interviews and events, and certainly paying attention to how they come across on camera.

    However, even though I strongly believe video greatly establishes though leadership and influences people more than a white paper does (having done both myself), I don’t believe the survey data they presented showed a real quantitative difference. 33% of survey respondents said they were doing video in their digital campaigns, versus 30% for white papers. Of course there’s a margin of error to be considered with any survey. What would have been very important to include is a survey of consumers on what they find themselves to be influenced by, along with MOST influenced by.

    Let’s also keep in mind that white papers and video are not mutually exclusive things, especially with interactive e-publications. What this can speak to is innovative ways of combining online content in the same campaigns, alone with cross-marketing.

  • Roger Stone says:

    I agree with Grant’s comments that white papers and video are not mutually exclusive. It is important to work out what medium is best suited to different messages.

    Videos can attract and entertain with introductions to companies and products, news and updates – they are great tools for starting customer engagement. White papers on the other hand can go into subjects, such as specifications and case studies, in great detail, deepening the relationship with those who are already interested. Of course, you can use videos to explain topics in depth, but this often requires a high level of resources.

    With the rapid switch of users to consuming content on mobiles and tablets as opposed to PCs and laptops, as well as the prominence given to videos in search, businesses of all sizes need to be taking advantage of the fact that it is increasingly easy to produce the video content which is becoming the preferred format for consumers.

  • Keith Bossey says:

    First off, I agree with all of Grant’s points. I think a survey aimed at consumers of the information would have found a preference for white papers over video for thought leadership activity – that is if we are talking about b2b. I’ve done research where decision makers have little time to sit and read an email, less so to be in a situation where they can dedicate time to video. White paper, written material has much more flexibility.

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