How to make great branded video content. We talk to Wistia’s Phil Nottingham

Once, if small business wanted to promote themselves they would have to place an ad in their local newspaper or perhaps – if budget allowed – produce a shaky little promo video that appeared at their local cinema.
Who can remember those classic Pearl and Dean gems from the 1970s and 1980s that you would have to sit through before the main feature began?

Thankfully things have moved on a little. The arrival of super fast broadband and 4G, soon to be 5G, smartphones now makes it much easier and cheaper for anyone, including brands, to produce and distribute their own video content to audiences.

Ahead of the Brighton SEO conference starting today, Chris Price talks to Phil Nottingham of video software provider Wistia about the importance of video marketing in the digital age. Based in Boston, Wistia has just been nominated for a Webby award for its own branded-content series, One, Ten, One Hundred, all about how to get the best results from your video content on a budget.

(By the way if you’re looking for web design in Brighton it’s worth checking out Digital Roo, this way if anything goes wrong you know where to go!)

Once a sword fighting stuntman, Wistia’s Phil Nottingham now helps companies to produce more engaging video content (not necessarily with swords!)

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I originally worked in TV and film as a stuntman, mostly doing sword fights on set. Then I worked for a technology company which did a lot of streaming for Sky TV before going into video marketing. 

Do you think producing great content is important for brands these days?

I do, but it’s largely subjective. The key is to understand who the content is for and whether it really speaks to the audience for which it’s intended. A lot of big brands are making content which is quite well produced and slick but it isn’t really speaking to anyone, while some of the smaller brands go wrong by producing content which is just a bit low quality and generic.

How do companies start to produce their own content?

First of all they need to be clear what their brand offering actually is and who they are actually speaking to. Where Wistia has succeeded is that it’s aimed at people who work in businesses which want to make videos but don’t necessarily have the skills. They’ve made it quite easy to understand how to shoot a great video on your iPhone or how to build a little lighting kit to help your videos stand out.

Why should companies invest in video rather than different types of social media marketing which may be cheaper to produce?

I think social media marketing is video marketing. Increasingly social media platforms are video platforms and video, along with text and images, is one of the fundamental languages of the web. If you’re not using video you are not using the language that everyone else is using to communicate.

Wistia’s entertainment series about making the same video ad on different budgets – One, Ten, One Hundred – has been nominated for a Webby award

Do you think there is any difference in the way people interact with video to other forms of marketing?

It’s different in that it’s more passive so the provider is doing the work whereas with text the user has to be more active. It’s like the difference between reading a book and watching a movie.

How do you measure the success of video marketing?

Video advertising has traditionally been measured on metrics like number of impressions because that’s what advertisers in the TV world are used to. However, these numbers aren’t particularly meaningful. Wistia is working on a more sophisticated engagement metric at the moment which is about qualified time watched, discounting everything that is an irrelevant interaction, like an ad skip or only a very limited time viewed. The advantage of video is that it’s much more measurable than text – you can actually see how much a user has watched and engaged with the content which is more difficult with text when people leave their tabs open.

Are there any plans to help brands develop engaging and more successful content?

Yes absolutely. We are rolling out new features, starting with A/B testing where companies can upload different videos with different thumbnails and text overlay and see how they compare in terms of engagement.  Historically a lot of brands have made videos to be shared everywhere on social media. However, the style of videos that work on YouTube isn’t the same as those on LinkedIn or Facebook. For example, around 95 per cent of video plays on Facebook are silent which makes text overlays important. We’re providing the tool suite that allows marketers to produce videos that are appropriate to each platform, including one that will automatically convert voice into captions. 

Why should anyone use a company like Wistia rather than YouTube to produce as well as distribute their video content?

The problem with YouTube, especially for brands, is that it’s very much incentivised to serve more ads which is increasingly divorced from serving the needs of business. What most brands care about isn’t ad distribution but meaningful engagement.

Is SEO (search engine optimisation) still important for brands and can video really have an impact?

A marketing strategy that doesn’t have SEO at its centre is one that is inevitably going to fail. And where video integrates into your website – which pages it sits on – is very important for SEO. If you have video on a page it’s going to allow you to rank for more highly. Video is also being included more and more in blended search results. It’s become an essential ingredient for search marketing.

Phil Nottingham from Wistia will be talking about Content Promotion at this year’s Brighton SEO conference this Friday April 12th. For more information on Wistia visit You can vote for Wistia in the Webby Awards for best Branded Entertainment Series here:

You don’t need to spend a fortune on lighting like this to get great results from your video content

5 Top tips on producing great video content

Wistia’s Phil Nottingham gives some useful advice:

  1. Identify your audience – you need to know who you are speaking to and what they want from your brand.
  2. Be clear on what your brand offering is – what type of service are you offering, what are your USPs (unique selling points) if any.
  3. Be your own customer – put yourself in the shoes of someone who would actually want to buy your product.
  4. Keep it simple – Most big brands are completely over engineering content. Often the simplest, most easy to produce videos are the most effective.
  5. Music makes a big difference – Music can account for more than half the impact your video ad has so it’s important to get it right. Check out sources online for royalty free music.
Chris Price