MagNet conference summary: Tips for multiplying your audience with video

Despite a huge demand from Canadian media audiences, many news organizations are still hesitant when it comes to online video. Optimizing video content to generate new revenue and multiply audiences was the topic of a recent panel discussion held during Magazines Canada’s annual conference in Toronto.

The panel was made up of video experts from a variety of news organizations including Adrian Brijbassi, Managing Editor of Vacay.ca; Sasha Nagy, Video Editor at the Huffington Post Canada and AOL Canada; Tom Symes, VP/Sales at News Canada; and Diane Williams, Executive Vice President, Online/Print and Web Media Relations at News Canada. The session was moderated by Angela Di Stasi, a Video Communication Specialist at In-Video. The experts discussed the challenges of video production--especially for organizations with limited budgets and resources--as well as the ways video content can help media companies enhance their online content. The panellists all agreed that—when done well--video can be a powerful form of storytelling that can be employed to attract new readers and digital advertising revenue. Below are some of the main takeaways from the discussion: 

Don’t do it just because you can

Don’t post video content online just because you have it. You want all of your content (text, photos and videos) to be curated and high quality. Videos should have a purpose and provide something of value to your audience – ask yourself “Is this something the readers actually want?” before posting content. Video should augment you content – not mimic editorial. It should give added insight into the story, (background information, interviews, and contextualization) rather than just duplicating the text. Go behind the scenes and give readers something interesting they’re not getting by reading the original story.

Consider the distribution channel

It’s important for news organizations to consider how and how often you want to post video content. The panellists suggested that if you’re going to do video, you should develop a set schedule in order to keep it regular; don’t throw up a couple of videos and then forget about them for months. Panellists also agreed that video is best when embedded within a publication’s own site. Although it might be easier to upload content to a branded YouTube channel, publishers lose a lot of control when distributing through a third party, especially when it comes to selling advertising around the video content.  

Viewers will watch poor video if the story is enticing enough

Ideally your videos should be high quality, tell a powerful story and on be brand. That said, some videos—no matter how poorly assembled—will attract audiences. Scandalous and viral stories will result in high view counts; everyone will want to watch the Rob Ford “crack video” even if the visuals and audio quality are sub-par.

But quality does matter

With today’s smartphone technology, video production is as simple as point and shoot. But just because you can shoot it, doesn’t mean you should post it. As video content becomes more and more prevalent online, people’s expectations have been elevated. Viewers want to see high production value in your video content. If your video isn’t polished – let your audience know why and be transparent. Viewers will be more willing to forgive poor video quality if they know why. Know your audience and what you can get away with. All of the panellists agreed that bad video is more forgivable than bad sound. Ultimately, high quality video takes time – it can’t just be pushed through in an hour.

Some content works better than others

Certain subject matter can come to life in vid