The Evolution Of Video Marketing

Have you ever wondered how we got here? To a world of video advertisements almost everywhere we turn? Today, we’re exposed to video marketing by the simple swipe of a finger on a phone screen, or while standing at the gas pump for (majorly overpriced) fuel.

As the world has evolved, video marketing has been the “grand slam” of virtual advertising. And, ironically, it all started with a baseball game.

Where It All Began

On July 1, 1941, Bulova debuted the first ever paid television advertisement before the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies game on WNBT (today known as WNBC). 

And the rest is history.

The minute-long video advertisement cost Bulova a whopping $9, which translates to around $150 today. The commercial itself was a WNBT test pattern modified to look like a clock with the words “Bulova Watch Time” in the lower right hand portion. There is even an attempted recreation of the Bulova Watch advertisement, if you’re interested.

After WWII, TV commercials were on the rise with video ad spend jumping from $12.3 million to $128 million in the 1950s (no, that’s not a typo). This is known as “The Golden Age” of television advertising. 

In this Golden Age of video advertising, brands made it a mission to get psychologically in tune with their audience. Video marketing campaigns were often centered around family values, traditions, and the “American Dream,” with a memorable mascot and jingle to accompany. 

This Kool Aid ad from the late 1950s is a great example of the commercials of the time—a far cry from the wall-busting Kool Aid man they’re known for nowadays.

The Sport of Video Advertising

TV commercials may have started at a baseball game, but when Americans think of video advertising today, it’s all about the “Big Game.”

Super Bowl commercials are ultra-creative, humorous, and unlike your average TV commercials. For non-football fans, they are often the sole reason for tuning in to the game, depending on who is performing at half-time. 

And, let’s be honest, the money invested in these video ad spots is fascinating. The most expensive to date is a tie from 2020 between Google and Amazon. Each commercial was 90 seconds in length and cost about $15 million.

Google’s commercial was a nationwide tear jerker. It featured an older man using Google Assistant to reflect on heartfelt memories of his late wife. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

On the other hand, Amazon’s commercial struck a more comedic chord. Celebrities Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi wondered what life was like before Amazon’s Alexa came on the scene. And hilarious Renaissance-era skits ensued.

But video campaigns don’t need to break the bank. Many brands have found video advertising online to be a much more cost-effective way to reach their audiences. And with screens in everyone’s pockets, your content is just a swipe away.

The Dawn of Social Media Influencers

Video marketing soared from the Golden Age of television to the Dot Com Boom, making its way closer and closer to its tipping point: the advent of social media. 

Social media took video marketing viral. And when it comes to viral internet videos, no platform has been more influential than YouTube.

YouTube set the example for everyday social media users to become content creators, creating videos for their audiences on just about everything: clothes, food, travel destinations, baby gear, video games, you name it. Other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok—each with billions of users on their platform—followed suit. 

Each social media platform bred new creators, new content, and new audiences… Audiences that brands aim to reach through digital marketing. And while most (if not all) platforms offer paid video advertising options, many brands prefer to tap directly into the individual content creator’s audience instead. Thus came the dawn of social media “influencers.”

Just as pricey TV commercials feature celebrity athlete endorsements, brands will pay individual influencers (or content creators) to share corporate messaging with their loyal followers. The price for these influencer relationships can range from $10 to $10,000 per video depending on audience size, engagement, and/or content alignment with their product or service. 

Before we knew it, Instagram influencers ascended to fame and fortune, and social media stars across all platforms ended up on celebrity guest shows like The Masked Singer and Dancing With The Stars

Short Form Social Media Videos

Forget the 30-second TV ad, social media marketing has encouraged the shortest of short form videos we’ve seen to date. All around the world, brands have been quick to notice the power of this short form delivery, especially in the form of user-generated content (UGC). 

Instagram, for example, is a hotbed for short form UGC, offering a platform for well-known influencers to create branded content—a win-win for both the brand and the creator. But some of their videos can be up to 90 seconds long (gasp!). Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Two- to ten-second videos currently dominate the social media scene. If a brand can’t capture a viewer’s attention by then, swipers keep swiping. Ultra-short form content was originally popularized by Vine and Snapchat, but the real hero of this niche UGC is none other than TikTok. 

TikTok launched in 2016 and has already garnered over 1 billion active users, with 31 million of them creating content and watching videos daily. In fact, TikTok has grown so popular that some companies are hiring TikTok Content Creators as full-time employees to help them make viral videos that yield viral sales.

But What About Facebook?

On the contrary, Facebook—what some call the “OG” social media platform, though us MySpace veterans beg to differ—has a more traditional video advertising setup. While still an option for influencers and UGC, Facebook’s algorithm and target audience segmentation (plus strong metrics for video views, landing page views, and clear calls-to-action) make it a better placement for more traditional video ads.

For example, have you ever said “I need new soap” aloud near a smart device one day, then the next day there’s a Facebook ad for organic, handmade, pumpkin spice-scented soap at the top of your feed? 

Same. This is why video marketing strategies operate on a “different strokes for different folks” basis across social media platforms. For some companies, longer video ads on Facebook work. For others, a 30-second creative TikTok is their breadwinner.

But as a whole, short form social media video marketing is a testament to the power of a creative and skilled mind, and also the attention span deficit we’ve all grown accustomed to thanks to these social media platforms.

What’s Next in Video Marketing? 

Video is everywhere we turn. From video screens in taxi cabs, to giant video billboards lighting up Times Square, to commercial breaks on live TV and streaming services, you may think we’ve seen it all. But there’s so much more to come.

Will short form UGC be short-lived as we grow tired of our 2-second attention spans and crave longer form branded content? (I’m gonna go with no—short form content is here to stay.) 

Maybe Facebook’s Metaverse will become the next big video marketing frontier. Or perhaps we’ll find new delivery platforms to rival today’s social media giants. 

The most interesting trend on my mind is artificial intelligence. Someday, maybe soon, AI technology will become so advanced that on-camera talent won’t have to be human at all. This would open so many possibilities for different types of video, from targeted tutorials and explainer videos to promotional brand awareness campaigns for the masses.

All I know is video marketing reigns supreme, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

See why video marketing and advertising teams rely on SNS EVO to create viral videos and compelling commercials.

Cat Janisko is a content creator at Studio Network Solutions. You can catch her geeking out over her native state of Pennsylvania on her educational TikTok account with over 265,000 followers (and growing). Cat has a breadth of on-air and broadcast experience from local TV news to home shopping programs. Outside of her career, Cat’s greatest joy is raising her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Betty and Noah.