More to mobile than meets the eye: Budgeting for great video

According to media agency Zenith statistics, global consumers spend an average of 47 minutes a day watching videos online, 29 minutes of which is on mobile devices. 


It is becoming more likely that a viewer will see an award-winning or viral video for the first time on a phone or computer screen before seeing it on traditional television.


Some advertisers might see this move to mobile media as an opportunity to reduce media production costs. However, just because a piece of content is online does not mean that production quality should suffer. Any good product is worth the money that’s invested in its production, and here’s why there’s more to mobile content than meets the eye…


There’s so much more to a video than the actors captured by the camera, each playing a vital role and worth the remuneration they charge. These include:

  • The producer, who carries the project from planning in pre-production, coordination during production, and overseeing the final product in post-production.
  • The director interprets the creative vision into a well-crafted, visually appealing story.
  • The camera operator (and director of photography in more complex shoots) captures the director’s vision.
  • The editor turns the raw material (audio and footage) into a story, adding graphics, animation and voice-overs to communicate the story in the most powerful way possible.
  • Professional actors ensure a professional performance.


Some of these roles can be merged and adapted, but professional staff transform a production from ordinary content into exceptional messaging.


Smartphone technology has made it possible to produce high definition videos easily and at a relatively low cost. However, with limited focus and light-adjustment ability, these are better kept for home videos.


Good quality SLR cameras can shoot broadcast-quality video, and are adjustable to a variety of conditions. It’s often necessary to use two (or more) cameras for productions involving audiences to capture people’s immediate reactions.


The investment in lighting and sound equipment adds vastly to the quality of the production and should not be overlooked.


Finally, professional editing software is essential for the final crafting of the raw material into a coherent narrative. So, studio time should never be skimped on, if you’re looking for a truly professional result. Clients often overlook quality grading of visuals, and this aspect is one of the most important steps in the post-production process. In the world of Instagram, every single person who uses this platform applies some type of filter to their image to enhance its impact. This is what grading does in video footage.


Filming in a studio allows for control over lighting and sound quality, but it comes at a cost – “dry hiring” just for the studio space and a “wet hire”, which also includes staff.


Filming in a public location can bring the production to life, however, this can imply extra time to apply for filming permits from local authorities.


Filming in the workplace might seem cheaper and offer more control, but this can be disruptive to the normal running of business, and hiring a crew to work after hours means paying them overtime.


The online world’s appetite for fresh video is likely to continue to grow – and while a great product is worth allocating a proper budget to, working with the right production agency will ensure that you get the best possible results with the budget you have to hand.


With the right understanding of these basic elements, a producer can develop a wide range of content and maintain a consistent level of quality. For example, 10th Street shot and produced a highly impactful mini-documentary for beauty product brand Darling on a R150 000 production budget, reaching over three million South Africans and shared more than 8 000 times across the various social media – and counting.


In any production budget, it’s crucial to demonstrate exactly how each cost contributes to the success of the project, and understand how cutting costs will also cut its effectiveness and reach.

Broadcasting evolution demands investment in video to keep up

The days of television being the primary home for brands’ video or movie content are long gone – digital is increasingly dominant and its importance can no longer be minimised in the marketing mix.


Global business consultancy Deloitte, in a 2015 research paper, predicted that by 2020 global advertising spend in digital will have overtaken television to become the most dominant medium, due to the rise in on-demand content and increasing mobility.


According to a recent Cisco report, after 2020 over 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video. The report also predicts that smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2021, with PC traffic moving from 46% of the total to only 25% by 2021. In the same period, smartphones will move up from 13% to 33% of total IP traffic. All this while the global internet traffic increases almost threefold in a five-year period.


As investment by traditional broadcasting struggles to support the production industry, South African television will have to undergo a significant evolution in the coming years to keep up with the growing demand for online video.


Here are four major trends expected to shape the development of the South African content production industry in 2018:

1. Digital to lead

Traditional advertising executives, while still enjoying a dominant position in the marketing eco-system, are making more room at the strategy table for their specialist digital counterparts. At times, due to the nature of the product, audience or campaign, digital is tasked with leading the strategy, sometimes responsible for the lion’s share of the budget. This is especially the case where the campaign objective is linked strongly to a digital call-to-action, such as customers downloading a new app or registering their details using a brand’s website.

2. Value and volume

Brands’ online platforms are becoming more important than ever and need to be updated constantly with fresh written and audio-visual content. With the increase in media clutter, users naturally gravitate to higher quality content. Rather than commissioning ad hoc production projects, brands will start to take on retainer contracts with reliable producers to develop regular explainer videos, short branded clips and other creative content published on digital platforms throughout the year.

Disruptive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality are emerging, but the focus will remain on telling stories using video, with creativity and great production values at a lower cost. In the current economy, agencies that can demonstrate value for money and a strong return on investment will be more relevant than those that focus on cool gimmicks.

3. The age of the blogger

Contrary to early predictions, citizen journalism is here to stay. The democratisation of media ownership won’t be legislated by an act of Government, but will happen organically in the form of professional bloggers, YouTube celebrities and influencers generating content for niche audiences at a breakneck pace. Bloggers are ordinary people, often without formal journalism or production training.


Companies such as 10th Street have a great opportunity to incubate emerging online stars, helping improve the quality of their content and matching them up with the right brands and campaigns – without skewing their creative direction. There are already several companies in the US that manage YouTube stars, but none yet from a production perspective.

4. Retention of services

As online video becomes a more important and regular channel through which brands reach their audiences, a once-off project agreement for each video will become more expensive and cumbersome to manage. In the retainers that we’ve adopted with some of our clients, we’ve been able to offer much better economies of scale, higher production quality and a consistency in tone and standards.


What this has done for 10th Street is allow us to grow our capacity and offer more to our clients in terms of the range of content and the sophistication of tools at our disposal. In a 12-month retainer, for example, a service level agreement will detail a set number of every type of content required per month. An annual strategy is developed at the start of the year, and instead of being restricted to going through an intermediary agency, the production company collaborates on a more equal footing with the brand’s various agencies, offering more strategic and conceptual input.


While blogging and online video is set to take up more prominence in the marketing space, brands shouldn’t suddenly ignore traditional channels. Online video will be a powerful tool for reaching audiences in multiple environments, but it is just one tool. Campaigns need to be developed from deep insights about consumer behaviour rather than from a desire to use as many different channels as possible. To remain cost effective, these channels should seek to leverage off their various strengths in an integrated way rather than seeking to compete against one another.