Combining Professional & User-Generated Videos Drives More Sales [Study]

A new study by comScore and EXPO has found that professionally-produced video content and user-generated product videos are “highly synergistic.” In other words, they drive higher levels of sales effectiveness when used in tandem.

The study evaluated an actual campaign that included a combination of a professionally-produced “how to” video and a user-generated product video that was created and submitted by an actual product user.

"This study aimed to answer a critical question for today’s digital advertisers: ‘how do user-generated videos complement professionally-produced content, if at all,’" said Frank Findley, comScore vice president, research and development, in a press release. "What we found was strong evidence of incremental benefit with exposure to both forms of media.

“In the campaign examined, professionally-produced content and product videos drove strikingly higher lifts when used together than when either was used individually. While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.”

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A first group of consumers participated in a veiled exercise in order to determine the sales effectiveness of the professionally-produced content, the user-generated content, and both together. Professionally-produced content generated a 24.7 point lift in Share of Choice for the featured product and a 16 point lift for the brand’s total line. User-generated product videos drove an 18.7 point lift in Share of Choice for the featured product compared to a 10 point lift for the brand’s total line.

When exposed to both professional content and user-generated product videos, lift in Share of Choice for the featured product jumped to 35.3 points for the featured product and 28 points for the brand’s total line. This demonstrates not only the value of each of these media individually, but also the powerful combination when used together.

It’s worth noting that comScore’s Share of Choice metric is well-documented and an independently-validated measure of advertising effectiveness. Share of Choice quantifies the ability of an ad to influence brand preference and has been shown to be predictive of advertising-induced sales. The metric captures actual consumer preference for a brand among a competitive set. Therefore, lifts in Share of Choice have been proven to strongly correlate with in-market sales lifts.

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A second group of consumers participated in a cued exposure exercise and were surveyed after being directly exposed to the content.

On its own, professionally-produced content resulted in a higher percentage of respondents understanding the importance of the key message presented than user-generated content, while the user-generated product videos were more successful at producing emotional intensity, key message communication, and ease of relating to.

When consumers were exposed to both professionally-produced and user-generated content, the combined increases were greater than for either of the individual media exposures.

“It seems that professionally-produced content and user-generated product videos are each successful at delivering different key elements to a consumer through video ‘advertising’,” said Jessica Thorpe, EXPO vice president of marketing, in a press release. “We found that consumers perceived feature benefits as more believable when coming directly from the brand through professionally-produced content, while the unbiased user-gen videos were more believable in verifying specific product claims, such as superiority and convenience. When used together, all of the perceived gaps get filled in and consumers become more confident in their purchase decision, resulting in better sales effectiveness from the advertising.”

For marketers, the results of the study on the synergy of professionally-produced video content and user-generated product videos in marketing campaigns are fairly straightforward. But, what does this mean to ad agencies?

I think it means that media buyers are limiting their clients when they only run video ads against “premium” or “scripted” video content. Viewers are watching “popular” and “relevant” video content. Whether it's produced by amateurs or professionals, it's all just video content to viewers.

This means that media buyers are making a distinction without a difference. Does it really matter if talented and entrepreneurial YouTube partners are building the next generation of media companies in bedrooms, garages, or studios across the globe?

Media buyers also limit themselves when they only run video ads against “scripted” content. More than half of YouTube video views are for videos that are over six months old. So, if you are nervous about running advertising against unknown user-generated content, all you need to do is watch it ahead of time.

comScore and EXPO will be conducting a webinar on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at 2 p.m. ET to further explain the methodology and results of the study.

About the author

Greg Jarboe is president of SEO-PR, which provides search engine optimization, public relations, video marketing, and social media marketing services. He's the author of "YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day," a faculty member at Rutgers University and Market Motive, as well as a frequent speaker at SES conferences.