We have become a nation of bingers. Some 70 percent of us binge-watch TV and consume an average of five episodes per session, according to a recent Deloitte survey. Yet few advertisers have created binge-worthy content.
That’s a missed opportunity. Since the bingeing craze hit a few years ago, it seems like every form of media is optimized for it. Play an album on Spotify and the application will start playing a radio station based on the song. Watch a YouTube video about building a shed and the video site automatically moves you on to another one on the same topic.
There are a couple of reasons why it makes sense to get consumers to binge on your content. First, that consumer is more likely to have a positive view of your brand. Second, formats like YouTube have been optimized for bingeing.
It’s hard to imagine this happening years ago with ads, but the mechanism to watch branded content whenever you want is still pretty new. A few years ago, Apple rolled out 66 “Mac vs. PC” ads. When they aired, you had to watch them one at a time, but now you can spend 38 minutes watching them all at once. More than 500,000 people have opted to do so. For them, the age of branded content bingeing is already here. It’s time to join them. Here’s how:
Entice them with cliffhangers
The idea of a cliffhanger is based on the Zeigarnik effect, which dictates that the brain can’t abide an uncompleted task (including finishing the plot of a TV show). Cliffhangers don’t have to be formulaic like that, though. They can also be endemic to the overall series. Hit podcast Serial, for instance, was based on a murder trial. But none of the listeners or creators knew how it might end.
For brands, this is new territory. However, GE’s hit podcast, The Message, was based on the idea of unraveling a mystery behind a fictional transmission. John Hancock also used its TV ads to tease online content. The ads set up a premise and then invited users to “Find out what happens at HancockNext.com.” There, consumers could choose one of three different endings. Finally, Geico used this idea in its “Unskippable” ads, which showcased a premise in the first five seconds (when viewers can opt to bail). For instance, one showed two men sawing a log and then skipped to the end where one was in a warm embrace with a bear. To understand what happened in between, you had to watch the whole thing.
A simpler way to achieve this same effect is merely to tease the next video. This can be as simple as saying, “In the next episode, we are going to talk about X.” However, branded content creators can take this idea further and actually show a short clip from the next installment. Take a tip from TV news shows that have been doing this forever to get viewers to stay tuned through commercial breaks.
Make it into a game
When PlayStation 4 launched recently, the brand got additional attention for its video by including dozens of Easter eggs—insider jokes for hardcore fans—in the video. The brand then rewarded those fans who spotted the Easter eggs and talked about them in social media.
You may not have a rabid following like PlayStation, but you can gamify your video content. For instance, candy brand M&M’s posted a photo on Facebook and asked fans to find a pretzel hidden in the picture. Similarly, a brand could ask fans to find objects hidden in a video and then “level up” to the next video to eventually win prizes.
New model for video advertising
The old model for video advertising was to interrupt whatever viewers were watching and wedge in an often unrelated message. The new model is to draw consumers to your content. So far, advertisers have interpreted that mission to mean that their videos should be viral. That’s not the only option. Advertisers can also mimic the techniques that Netflix and others use to create bingeable content.
This isn’t necessarily easy to pull off, but creating content designed to appeal to a nation of bingers is a solid strategy.