Stop the Confusion: Here are the Differences Between Video Advertising & Video Marketing

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Over the past year, we’ve seen video play a growing role in inbound marketing strategies, aided by social media companies adding new video capabilities to their platforms. Twitter, for example, launched video autoplay to its feeds, Facebook gave advertisers the option to buy video ads, and live streaming video through Periscope became an overnight sensation.

It’s not surprising that video is taking off. According to Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined. And, video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more, according to research from

A recent phenomenon that highlights video’s viral potential is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which began in the summer of 2014 with a single video depicting professional golfer Chris Kennedy pouring an icy bucket of water on his head and challenging his sister, whose husband has ALS, to do the same. After posting the video on Facebook, it was seen by other ALS sufferers (and their friends and family members), and it took off from there. By the end of the year, 17 million people had uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook; these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times, and the ALS Association raised more than $100 million.

While any company would be thrilled to achieve a portion of the buzz generated by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there are several lessons that can be learned from this cause marketing event, including the importance of understanding the distinction between video marketing and video advertising.

Marketing and Advertising Are Related But Not The Same

Advertising is a paid activity that calls attention to one’s products or services. Whether a company buys advertising time on the radio, a billboard, or television there is always a highly anticipated return on investment. Marketing, on the other hand, is about exposing part of a brand with the goal of bringing data back and turning it into an advertising spot. For example, Mattel recently launched Spy Squad Barbie Secret Agent Doll. In addition to its traditional ads showing young girls playing with the dolls, Mattel added an interesting and creative twist in its marketing campaign. At the top its Spy Squad web page (, it has a video titled, “What Happens When Girls Are Free To Imagine They Can Be Anything?” The two-minute video employs hidden cameras to capture audiences’ surprised reactions to elementary school-aged children in unexpected roles such as a college professor, veterinarian, coach of a men’s soccer team, a traveling business executive, and a museum tour guide. 

After a minute and a half of watching these humorous scenarios play out, the last 30 seconds brings the message home by showing a girl with several Barbie dolls pretending to be a college professor, and it ends with the message, “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.” While the marketing video contains no overt advertising call to action to purchase a Spy Squad Barbie (this new doll is not even shown in the video), it isn’t difficult to see how this piece corresponds with the TV advertisements. 

To develop a video production strategy that maximizes your advertising and marketing goals, keep the following three tips in mind:

1. Ask bigger picture questions upfront.

When it comes to creating good video content, it’s easy to get caught up in the techniques and software capabilities at the expense of the message you want to convey. To avoid this pitfall, before starting production ask yourself and other key stakeholders why the video is being created? Who is the target audience? What is the goal of the piece? And, in addition to discussing the most immediate goals for the finished product, take the time to brainstorm about other ways the content may be used to complement the original piece. 

This will likely extend the production time as you change background scenes, props, and add additional footage, but in the end it will significantly extend the lifecycle of your content.

2. Be careful about mimicking current video trends. 

Do you remember when the Blair Witch Project movie came out? Part of what made the movie so memorable was the home video/shaky cam style that was used, which made it appear more authentic to audiences. Shortly afterwards, we saw a lot of copycats trying to duplicate this effect, but it quickly went from clever to annoying. If you decide to mimic a popular ad or production style, be sure you include enough differences in your video to avoid the “Blair Witch Syndrome.” Audiences today are smarter than many realize and attempts to fool them or copy something they are already too familiar with can come across as lazy or worse. On the other hand, it can be intimidating to try something new, especially if you are creating your video in a professional studio. To alleviate these concerns, consider doing a “safe version” in addition to one that incorporates your creative risks and compare them afterwards. 

3. Keep the end user experience in mind.

One thing that is easy to overlook is the disparity in screen sizes being used to view your content. Despite digital displays and high definition televisions getting bigger all the time, you can’t forget that a significant number of people now consume content on their tablets and smartphones. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are incorporating text into your video. It might read well on a 55-inch flat screen TV or even a 23-inch computer monitor, but on the 5-inch touch screen the message is unreadable. 

Can you shorten your message? Make the font bigger? Zoom in closer?

Admittedly, the lines between advertising and marketing are being blurred and things are fuzziest where video is involved (e.g. native advertising). By giving thought to how video advertising and marketing complement one another, you’ll be in a better position to develop clearer plan that will inevitably result in a better experience better for you, your production and marketing team, and most importantly — your audience.

About the Writer - Dave Tidler 

Dave Tidler is Digital Communications Architect for Yorktel Media Services. Yorktel’s Emmy Award Winning Media Services division provides a full suite of professional media and event production services. From concept to completion, script to screen, Yorktel’s production services enable you to effectively communicate your message, program, vision to your intended audience, in the room or around the world.

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