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Visual cues: Why your next thought leadership campaign needs a video edit

Guest post by Matthew Sansom, Head of Strategic Content, Alpha Grid

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what value should we place on video?

In the world of thought leadership, the way brands present their content can make or break a campaign. Longitude’s research shows that for campaigns to succeed, activation must be a top priority. So, it’s surprising to learn that for many companies that produce thought leadership, campaign activation is still an afterthought.

As thought leadership and content marketing practices align, brands are increasingly taking a campaign-focused approach to activating their thought leadership assets. Promoting insights in a way that engages an audience requires investment in delivery methods that capture interest and inspire the mind. With a wide range of creative assets now on every marketers’ campaign wish-list, where does video fit in?

The rise and rise of video

Over the past few years, video has become so popular that YouTube is now considered to be a primary source of news for nearly half of senior decision makers. Only Facebook and LinkedIn – both of which also place great value on video content — have a higher share of the market.

Indeed, smartphones ­– arguably the greatest catalyst in the “always-on” culture we now find ourselves in – enable us to consume even more content on the go. Video is perfectly poised to take advantage of this seismic shift in consumption habits.

At Alpha Grid, we’ve seen rapid growth in the use of video for showcasing thought leadership insights. We see it as the best medium for conveying information and sentiment quickly and effectively.

But when it comes to landmark thought leadership programmes, how do you distil your valuable data and insights into a short and pithy broadcast?

Video production: A-B-C

There are three key components to video: images, audio, and a story.

Whether you have your own footage or choose to use stock material, it must fit with the narrative. It may sound obvious, but if the visuals don’t connect with the audio or the message you’re trying to convey, you’ll almost certainly lose your viewers. The same rule applies to audio. When using music, sound effects or voiceovers in video, it needs to work in harmony with the visuals, although it can also work well as an audio cue to indicate changes in focus.

But before even thinking about aesthetics, your video needs a story.  A strong narrative underpins all video production, regardless of category and purpose. Producing video for thought leadership content is no different. The narrative must inform, influence and engage your viewers ­– without this crucial component, your video will undoubtedly miss the mark.

Combining these three core ingredients will ensure that you produce great video content, helping it connect with your viewers on an emotional, intellectual and long-lasting level. We creatively dub this general rule of thumb ‘The Content Matrix’:

When it comes to engagement, we firmly believe that video is the only form of content that wins on all three levels. Done well, this format enables marketers to activate their thought leadership campaigns in a way that’s easily accessible and digestible.

Using video to activate your thought leadership

In the world of thought leadership, content atomisation is increasingly becoming the norm, with marketers borrowing techniques from content marketing to ensure their insights get noticed. Video is quickly moving to the top of these content asset wish-lists.

So, how do you choose the right style of video to share your insights? We recommend one of four options:

1. Animation to bring data alive

An animated video is an efficient way to convey multiple data points quickly and concisely. You’ll be able to communicate five or six key data points effectively in a two-and-a-half-minute animation with a short explanation for each one. This combination of clean, flowing visuals with compelling data points will breathe life into static data and increase the visibility and retention of key stats.

Click here to see a display of demographic, population and migration data, visualised for the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

2. Enhanced talking heads

Interview-style videos, fondly referred to as ‘talking heads’, are the most common way to present qualitative insights. Their popularity is largely down to their simplicity. They can be differentiated and made to stand out with on-screen, animated data points, creating a more informative and engaging experience for viewers.


This short interview uses animation to bring both quantitative and qualitative data to life.

3. Reporter-led packages

Presenting your client’s story in the style of a news item is a useful technique to retain full editorial control of the content whilst engaging viewers in a manner that they may perceive as less ‘sales-y’. Clients and their work are front and centre of the finished piece, with the voiceover and on-screen presence of the reporter driving the story forward, providing context and ensuring insights are accessible and grounded in the real world.

Watch this example of a reporter-led ‘discovery’ of mind-controlled robotics.

4. Drive engagement with interactive infographics

Traditionally, interactive infographics don’t fall into the video content category. But as one of the most effective and commonly-adopted methods of activating research-led insights, they should still be considered within the context of video. Allowing your target audience to interact with insights, co-creating and personalising outputs, is now a vital component for brand engagement.

Explore Zurich’s Global Risk Report 2018, with their interactive tool.

When planning assets for your next thought leadership campaign, consider whether video could be a useful format to experiment with. Regardless of the topic, audience or type of insight, chances are you can disseminate their messages more effectively through the use of video.

Matthew Sansom, Alpha Grid

Matthew Sansom has worked in media for more than 20 years. After producing every show on the European Bloomberg TV channel, and global business bulletins at BBC Worldwide, he moved to CNBC, where he produced shows such as Global Players. He moved to the Middle East to set up an English language news programme for the state broadcaster in Abu Dhabi, before running a national radio station. He joined Alpha Grid, an FT company, at the beginning of 2017, where he works as the head of content and strategy.

For more great examples of how video can be used to promote branded content, visit https://www.thealphagrid.com, or speak to the team at Longitude who can put you in touch.

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