When it comes to online video, all too often our focus and energy is placed solely on the video itself – the production quality, finishing touches, customized embed code, poster frame, post play screen, and more. An important point to consider is the context of that video, and make no mistake, context is a multifaceted word here. For a simple starting point, what does the site look like where you are embedding it? More importantly, what broader business aims are you trying to achieve by putting video on that page? How does this fit with the rest of your marketing strategy and your customer acquisition cycle? Keep reading to uncover how much the context of your video matters, and what you can do to optimize it.

Michael Ventura quote about the importance of context

Internal Context

Here, we are referring to everything that is happening within your company when the video is being conceptualized, shot, edited, and published. Whether your company is hiring or firing, growing or shrinking, entering new markets or launching new products, it really matters what else is going on when your videos are being made. For instance, entering a new market is a process full of uncertainty, and understanding what the launch means for your business will help you better communicate why it is a turning point, and therefore why viewers should pay attention. This is all about setting the scene and developing the character of your company; creating the moment that is being captured in the video and lending more credence to the final result.

Location, Location, Location

This is a far simpler exercise in why the surroundings of your videos matter, because here we are looking at visible elements on the page where the video will be published. A great (albeit extreme) example of why this is so key was a recent scandal in video ads. According to the Wall Street Journal a website came under scrutiny for several tiny sites embedded throughout its pages, where each embedded site was the size of a single pixel and not visible to the human eye. These embedded sites served up video ads to site visitors, which advertisers had paid for, though had they known the placement, they probably wouldn’t have. Maybe those ads could have been relevant to the visitor on the page, but given their placement on the page, they have practically zero impact on the visitor experience. For the advertiser placing those ads, however, their ROI and overall experience with that ad network would be very negative.

To optimize the on-page context of the video, think about the goal you want to achieve by including video on the page. What other elements are on the page, and how are they arranged? Is it clear there even is a video on the page, or is it hidden below the fold or in a subtle lightbox? Does the video have an attractive poster frame that makes you want to click on it? Can you tell what you will get out of it if you take the time to watch it, before you click play?

External Context

The external context of your videos is how they fit into the wider world of online content, as well as their place in your customer’s experience with your products or services. All too often we see the type of gaffe where a major event takes place and some light-hearted video suddenly seems inadvertently hilarious or offensive. You can spin this to your advantage and incorporate recent trends or memes to make your video more entertaining, just be wary of appearing gimmicky or giving your video a shorter lifespan.

On a much smaller scale, your video also needs to be in the right place at the right time for your site visitors as they progress through your marketing funnel and convert from a prospect to a paying customer. Starting with their mindset and the questions they may have, the problem they need to solve, or the value they are seeking will guide your video planning process and help you create more relevant content. Placing that video content where it will be easily found or shared, with any relevant explainer text or calls-to-action will help prompt more people to press play.

How do you define context for your videos? How has it changed your approach to video marketing or content development? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Twitter.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted June 9, 2014

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