How to use video as a marketing tool for print media

One of the most remarkable developments of digital communications has been the rise of video as a communications mechanism in the online environment. The addition of this audio-visual media has contributed to popularity of the online medium and the consequent downturn in print readership.

Publications have been forced to utilize the online environment to support their endeavours in the print sphere and they have employed various strategies to do so. One tactic is to offer some editorial content online and hope that readers will continue to buy the print edition for added features, while other publishers have just a static website that offers information about the publication but retains editorial content solely in print.

Among the most powerful features of the online environment is its capacity for multi-media content distribution. Some publications have ventured into adding video to their websites in addition to written copy sections. Newspapers for example have taken to utilizing this tactic on their web portals with video news clips, most of this being user-generated content.

There are plenty of reasons to use video as a tool to enhance an online presence. The viewing statistics for online video are impressive – some 82% of Twitter users watch video content on this platform, while the ever-popular YouTube has over a billion users, which is almost one-third of total internet users.[1]

Almost half (around 45%) of netizens watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week and YouTube enjoys than 500 million hours of viewing each day. In fact more video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years.

So who is watching all of this video content? The 25-34 (millennial) age group watches the most online videos and men spend 40% more time watching videos on the internet than women. By 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic and the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video.

Over half of video content is viewed on mobile devices, while 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others. Other popular platforms include Periscope and Snapchat, which sees 10 million videos being watched every day.

The downside of video is that good quality production is expensive in terms of the equipment, skills and time necessary to make it. These days anyone can make a video using their cell phone (you can even find specialised apps to record and edit it) or use a simple online video-making website. But to create a higher quality production you need sophisticated camera equipment, editing capacity and the multi-layered skills required to blend audio and visual elements into a coherent and finely-tuned video asset.

So how can print publications use video to enhance their product?

  1. Identify what you would like to achieve using video as a communications mechanism.

Probably the most obvious objective would be to promote the print publication because this is your bottom line in terms of income generation. But there are other purposes – certain content can be monetized through subscription or pay-per-view, website views can be translated into value for advertisers and videos can ‘live’ on different platforms, for example your social media feeds or online video channel such as YouTube, to generate an archive of video content that enjoys ever-increasing numbers of views over time.

  1. Pinpoint how video content will complement or enhance your print publication.

One of the easiest types of video to produce is the interview where a personality simply speaks to camera or to an interviewer about a subject, usually their particular area of expertise or on some newsworthy topic. Unfortunately interviews also tend to be the most boring and inefficient use of the video medium so it is unwise to simply record someone talking and put this up on your website as your video content.

Instead, think of how to link video material with the editorial content of the print publication. For example you might want to make a short video that promotes your lead article, which you can then circulate online through social media to encourage viewers to buy the magazine.

  1. Look at what information can be better conveyed by video as opposed to print.

There are distinct differences between the ways in which video and print respectively convey information. The power of video lies in its ability to illustrate subjects through moving images that are complemented by an audio narrative, while print sets out information in the form of printed words, sometimes backed by illustrative pictures.

But there is a speed difference between the two mediums – words are spoken at a rate of around 180 words per minute, while an average reader will read text at a rate of around 250-300 words per minute. Text lends itself to lengthier expositions on a subject, while video relies on its illustrative potential to convey not only meaning but also emotion.

So rather than attempting to replicate the entire article in the video one would rather compile AV material into a short but interesting video that sparks the viewer’s interest in the topic enough for them to seek out the magazine in order to get the full story. It is not enough to simply interview one of the protagonists of your magazine story – rather gather a variety of visual material including still pictures and video footage that will illustrate different facets of your story and combine these in such a fashion as to be entertaining and stimulating for the viewer.

  1. Consider how to use each medium to maximise its communicative potential.

Back in the 1960s one of the most insightful and prescient media theorists of the 20th Century, Marshall McLuhan, came up with the concept that, “the medium is the message”. By this he meant that each medium has particular characteristics which determine how best it can function as a communications medium. For example in a print publication one has limited space in which to fit copy and pictures, so copy must be cut to a certain word length and the pictures selected and placed to ensure their optimal communicative potential, while design elements make the article visually attractive and easy to read.

With video the user interface is the screen so visual elements must be composed in such a way as to optimize their information value on the canvas it provides. Then audio elements such as music and sound effects are added in a manner that complements the visual narrative. Getting this right means optimizing the communications potential of the medium – in other words creating an informative and entertaining AV product that the viewer will enjoy sufficiently to watch it to the end and hopefully come back for more next time.

  1. Identify where the video is going to ‘live’.

The final destination of the video will influence factors such as its length – for example if you’re reaching out to people on their mobile devices they probably won’t want to watch a long video (although there are increasing numbers of online streaming services offering a television-like experience on the smart phone).

If it’s on a specialised video platform such as YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh or your own website you can opt for longer durations, bearing in mind that the longer the production the more it is likely to cost. Still, video doesn’t have to have a huge price tag and you can find providers who are willing to give you a low-cost yet effective solution to meet your particular needs.

  1. Get your clients to pay for it.

Videos can support advertorial as well as featuring ads for your regular commercial clientele. They can also feature branded content such as product placement, logos, billboards and other techniques to add brand value.

There is no doubt that in the context of today’s media environment, people are watching more online video and using less print media to meet their information and entertainment needs. But print media are lagging with regard to utilizing video as a promotional tool and as an enhancement for a print publication. With the ever-growing importance of the online medium this situation cannot be sustained and it will be the early adopters of effective video communications who will win the competitive edge in the digital space.


[1] Information from