What Publishers Can Learn from the Financial Times’ Videos

June 4, 2014

Video is one of the most engaging ways to get readers to dip their toes into your content: it’s dynamic, it engages more senses, readers can choose how much they want to view, and our studies show that digital extras like video increase the time readers spend with your content as it prompts them to read articles they would otherwise have skipped. (Download the Interactive Magazine Guide for more information.)
With video reigning as a quantifiably popular and versatile medium, it’s clear video should be a part of any strategy to interest and engage your audience. And the proof is in the pudding: The Financial Time believes in video so much it currently produces 152 videos per month, and is looking to increase that number to 200. But they don’t just create videos to push out content; their videos are part of a larger strategy to move new readers to pay for access to their long form content. While their strategy is specific to the FT’s model, there are some takeaways for other publishers to consider.
3 Points of Video Strategy Publishers Should Note:
1. Offering free content to entice new audiences: the Financial Times has been very successful with putting most of their content behind a paywall, generating over half of the publication’s revenue with subscribers willing to pay. Part of their success can be attributed to their use of free content, such as their videos. Free content gives readers the ability to get to know the brand and trust the kinds of content it produces. Just as you wouldn’t buy a product from a brand you never heard of, so will readers shy from buying content from a source when they don’t know the quality of content to expect. Free videos is one way to bridge that gap.
2. Selling ads into their videos: Treat this strategy with caution. Selling ads works well with the FT’s model because they produce high quality videos. This method could be a good revenue generator for publishers who create excellent clips, but other strategies could be to sell the space around the video, or to use video as a pure interest builder for buying into your brand.
3. Continuous testing: Even with the FT’s impressive ability to churn out high quality videos each month, they never assume they know exactly what works in the medium. As reiterated a few times in this Digiday article, FT is experimenting with video length and mobile use, then studying their metrics to gauge the results. They’re looking at the kind of content conveyed in the video as compared to length, as well as if length of viewing is affected by device used. By staying informed about their audience’s current practices, they can create better-performing content in the future.
The Financial Time’s video production may outstrip what other publishers can do, but the key isn’t in the number of videos so much as the strategy behind the videos. The FT is using free video content to engage new readers as well as increase brand awareness across multiple channels. Publishers everywhere can achieve similar results with their own high quality productions, even if they’re in more limited quantities.


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