In the 1980s, video killed the radio star. Three decades later and it’s slowly doing a similar job on traditional marketing methodologies—and transforming brand communications for businesses across all sectors.
Video is no longer the preserve of broadcasters and media corporates; it’s part of the mainstream and has become one of the most important pieces of IP within any major organization. It says everything about you, your company and your brand and can be a key component of differentiation. Despite this, many organizations fail to structure their operations in ways that maximize video and, as a result, miss out on its potential to enhance brand messaging and bolster multichannel communications. To progress, businesses must exert greater control of video through all stages of production, development and distribution—and facilitate greater collaboration across the enterprise to yield the widespread benefits of speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. With online video now the fastest growing advertising format, the need to transition from the misuse of one-dimensional media asset management systems to the deployment of more powerful video collaboration platforms is significant. As The Buggles warned in 1980, “We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far.” It’s time to take video seriously.
Growth of Video
Online video is now the consumer channel of choice. In response, businesses are increasingly investing in the medium; 93 percent of marketers used video for online marketing in 2013, while 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the type of content with the best ROI. But as studies reveal that “professionally produced” video outperforms “user-generated” video by as much as 30 percent, the ability to produce high quality video has become a must-have capability. As brands compete for consumer eyeballs, corporates are becoming media producers—and facing the same challenges as major broadcasters.
One of the biggest challenges is the need to share and access footage right across the enterprise. As such, media asset management has become a key driver of profitability. The ability to locate content quickly and consistently can have a major impact on customer experience and sales conversion. However, as video production increases and the volume of raw, unedited footage similarly inflates, organizations are struggling to manage video content efficiently and cost-effectively.
Executives across businesses—whether in R&D, marketing or customer-facing environments—want to be able to collaborate throughout the video creation process, or to access or repurpose existing content to maintain brand consistency. However, media asset management within many organizations—including broadcasters—remains suboptimal. Video content is often stored in silos and is inaccessible or invisible to others. This slows down processes and leads to unnecessary duplication of effort and increased costs. The problem is compounded by separate departmental budgets that make the commissioning of video a disconnected process.
Clean and Dirty MAMs
To address this, businesses have invested in media asset management (MAM) systems designed to provide digital libraries of media files and associated metadata for broadcast purposes. Yet many are discovering that their conventional MAM falls short of meeting key requirements. Here’s why.
Primarily, the vast majority of MAM-based systems are designed to handle finished media. They are, in theory at least, a “clean” MAM that houses only approved, edited and “pristine” video. However, users’ growing desire to collaborate and to archive work-in-progress means that MAMs are increasingly becoming cluttered with raw footage, short shelf-life film and other digital media assets. In the process, the clean MAM is transforming. It is being coined as the “dirty MAM”—systems that are cannibalized by users attempting to repurpose them to suit their needs.
The inherent congestion is at odds with the founding principles of MAM; it becomes harder for stakeholders to locate, access and use media files, slowing down progress and decelerating time to air. Data shows that 40 percent of companies admit that they have lost irreplaceable footage, with many forced to reshoot film or simply accept their losses. Furthermore, such is the chaos that a staggering 80 percent of video content is seen once—and never seen again. The opportunity cost of that lost footage is unquantifiable.
Secondly, most MAMs are designed with technical users in mind, requiring them to input detailed technical data in order to upload, access and search for files. Finished media certainly needs to be tagged with clear metadata to define important information such as file format or rights clearance—and there can typically be as many as 40 metadata fields that need to be completed. But such requirements are foreign to non-technical users searching for content to reuse within other projects. As a result, employees often try to bypass the MAM using unsuitable file transfer tools such as Dropbox or Hightail, which are unable to handle high-resolution media and do not permit cross-team collaboration. The risks, as well as the potential impact on long-term productivity, are severe.
Finally, the lack of a centralized approach to media asset management remains problematic. Most systems are built for specific sites or departments. Even within the broadcasting industry, MAMs often only operate in fixed locations and require complicated VPN set-up to access remotely. This stifles collaboration and is misaligned with modern ways of working, particularly in a cross-functional corporate environment.
Despite inferences to the contrary, the “dirty MAM” is an essential requirement. Stakeholders in video production across all businesses are frustrated by the limitations of standard systems, and are increasingly demanding MAM capabilities that allow them to archive work-in-progress, search and share raw footage and collaborate with colleagues across their organizations. One solution is to maintain use of an on-premise MAM to archive finished media, then to enhance operations with the introduction of a Cloud video collaboration platform that sits in front of the on-premise architecture.
A cloud video collaboration platform, in essence a “dirty MAM,” can act as a triage system—an A&E for raw footage that, as it progresses, is diagnosed, labeled and structured accordingly, ready for admission into the appropriate ward of the “clean MAM” for final treatment. By optimizing secure cloud technology, all users are able to share, organize and work with footage in an open, transparent fashion—with videos being discoverable throughout the process. Media can be filed in controlled project folders, with the ability to add relevant data right from the start—ready to be transported into the pristine MAM, with the required metadata, once it has been completed. The best video collaboration platforms have transcoder capabilities that allow users to upload files in any format in the knowledge that they will be homogenized into their house format automatically—overcoming common challenges around the multiplicity of video formatting.
Furthermore, with the ability to access a secure cloud environment from any office or location around the world, the production process can be scaled in an instant. This not only removes silos, it maximizes efficiency and drives creative innovation.
The rapid increase in video consumption is now a major strategic driver for enterprise corporations. Irrespective of business sector, organizations need to evolve beyond their core competencies and become producers of high quality video comparable with broadcasters and media corporations. Furthermore, whilst some businesses may have bolstered their ability to develop finished video, digital and mobile technology means that we’re moving into a world where people increasingly need to collaborate. At present, despite their best endeavors, corporate teams are being critically hampered by inadequacies in their organization’s media asset management.
Video represents a business’s best chance to engage with customers and differentiate brands. But if companies do not take control of the problem of media asset management—right from the beginning—operations risk being overrun by raw footage and squandering the opportunity of video altogether.
The answer, as The Buggles foretold, is being “rewritten by machine and new technology.” The future is in the cloud.
David Peto is Aframe’s CEO. David founded Aframe with a vision to create a cloud platform that is powerful enough to handle the huge volumes and myriad formats of video production, but is simple enough that anyone could use it.