Avid hiker, bicyclist, motorcyclist, long-time seasoned advertising pro and taste-tester of too much organic dark chocolate. Founder of Skyworks Marketing, Nonprofit Fire and Founder/Producer of local cable TV series Our Ventura TV. One career highlight was working on a small team that built a business from nothing to over $100 Million in 3 years.
Is there anything better for your business than Pay-for-Performance leads and sales?
Pay-for-Performance means you’re getting the highest return on your marketing and advertising dollars.
We’ve helped one business grow from nothing to over 100 million dollars in three years through online marketing, direct mail and national TV advertising.
How far can your business expand?
We are an exceptional and uncommon marketing agency that develops customized sales funnels for businesses and then fills those funnels with prospects via marketing and advertising campaigns to drive you more leads and sales.
If you’re a cost-conscious, savvy business leader looking to take your revenue to the next level, then you should visit SkyworksMarketing.com
We offer brief advertising trials for qualifying businesses to assess the potential for a future win-win partnership.
You get real-time prospects and/or sales that are exclusively for your business and no one else.
You get a partner that is simultaneously testing, optimizing and managing all the advertising to keep your funnel full, while constantly seeking new ways to get more prospects into the funnel.
You get an award-winning video production team to get your message out to the world, whether online, on TV, or both.
You get advertising on Google, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, LinkedIn and other platforms, depending upon what’s best for your products or services.
Furthermore, as the partnership matures and proves itself, you’ll benefit from our offline marketing as well, such as direct mail, print ads, radio and TV. You’ll even receive ongoing content development, including graphics, articles, videos, TV commercials, along with auto email sequences and website development.
You’ll also benefit from artificial intelligence and data science expertise to help tune your product or service offerings, and to inform new upsells, cross-sells and future product suggestions. In other words, we use artificial intelligence to help your business grow much faster and more effectively.
And of course starting from Day 1, you’ll get continuous development of new ads to drive new leads and new sales.
What if your PPC (pay-per-click advertising) needs aren’t significant enough to hire an employee? Or, what if you’re testing a new product and hiring a PPC employee wouldn’t make sense until the product was a confirmed success?
Those — or any other reasons you may not desire a new employee — place you in the market to hire a freelancer or PPC agency. Heck, even if you have a full-time employee to manage your PPC advertising, it’s not a bad idea to also hire some independent eyes now and then to see if you can get a bump in performance.
PPC Freelancer vs PPC Agency
In brief, freelancers are usually less expensive than an agency. As well, often you could expect a larger commitment from a freelancer than an agency. On the other hand, you can anticipate more diversified experience from an agency, relative to a freelancer. However, such is not always the case with freelancers or agencies. Like anything else in life, buyer beware.
PPC Freelancers Based on Price
The rates that a PPC freelancer charges are not the only factors to consider when hiring. But generally speaking, a more expensive freelancer has more experience. And if their personality and communication style matches your own, that can be the basis for a trial. It’s also a good idea to check references. But anticipating hiring different freelancers over time will provide more varied insights into your marketing and sales funnel than expecting to hire only one.
Here are some approaches to consider when evaluating pay rates.
a) Hiring an inexpensive and inexperienced PPC freelancer is the most unpredictable. It would be more acceptable if you are very experienced with PPC yourself and can closely scrutinize the details of their work.
b) Hiring a PPC freelancer with mid-pricing is less risky than hiring the least expensive resource. You should expect they’ll be able to follow your instructions. Although you’ll still need to scrutinize their work to confirm the job is being done per your requirements. But it’s a good bet that any required modifications will be done swiftly and competently as your needs come more info focus from their perspective. Hiring a mid-tier PPC freelance can be most workable if you are trying to save money compared to more expensive resources. Nevertheless, later on, you may still want to try a more expensive PPC freelancer to see if your PPC performance can be further improved.
c) In an ideal world, hiring the most experienced PPC freelancer at the top of the price range will generate the best results — at least in terms of seeing how effective the PPC advertising will be. But an ineffective marketing and sales funnel will not be made profitable by PPC alone (more on that below). Also, hiring the most experienced/expensive freelancer is a particularly good idea if you are not sufficiently experienced with PPC advertising and can benefit from more informed guidance. In other words, the less you know, the more expertness and experience you should hire.
Having said all that, the focus of this article is not on whether you should hire a freelancer versus an agency, or what approach to use when making hiring decisions; this is about how to make the overall experience more valuable and profitable after you’ve made the hire.
PPC Platform vs Strategy
In this article, when referring to “strategy,” I mean the full-funnel evolution of raising awareness in the minds of potential buyers that your product or service exists, to then becoming a candidate in their decision process, all the way to getting the sale.
PPC Sales Funnel Advertising
PPC advertising is only one part of an overall strategy, even though different PPC campaigns can target different parts of the funnel. For example:
“Top of the Funnel” campaigns are about introducing potential buyers to your products or services. Although display PPC or search PPC can be used here, if there’s not enough search ad volume, you can find more robust volume via display ads. And “what” is being advertised might be content that is relevant to the type of prospects who would buy your product. For example, if you sell financial services, you might promote financial “How to” guides to get in front of potential prospects.
“Middle of the Funnel” campaigns are intended to insinuate your offering into the potential buyers’ decision process. Depending upon the product or service and market, these types of ads might be directed to more detailed descriptions of your product or service. To continue the above example, if you are promoting financial services, you might direct retargeted ads to those who got your “How to” guides to direct those prospects to detailed information about your financial services.
“Bottom of the Funnel” campaigns (often remarketing and retargeting) are intended to generate sales. These have a call to action and often some type of special “Buy Now” offer. And just like ads for the other parts of the funnel, you’ll want to test many variations to find better-performing messages.
Many business owners want to focus on bottom-of-the-funnel advertising. If that works for your product or service, by all means do it. On the other hand, the more expensive or complex a product or service is, the longer the runway and the more times a prospect will need to see your brand before they’ll buy from you. Hence, the whole idea of providing different PPC ads to different types of prospects is to make your PPC advertising more effective and provide more value for the same expenditures.
PPC vs Sales Funnel
For some businesses, PPC may be the primary means of generating traffic and sales. Nevertheless, it’s still only a part of the entire sales funnel.
PPC freelancers are generally not hired to inform overall strategy. They focus on the platforms themselves, whether that be Google Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, Amazon Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s the industry norm.
To underscore the obvious, a PPC freelancer or agency is only one part of a solution towards making your sales funnel more effective. What this boils down to is if you are hiring someone to administer your PPC, ideally you would also be savvy enough with PPC and marketing yourself to maximize the value of the partnership.
If your marketing and sales funnel is already well-optimized, then the PPC advertising will amplify your sales, as long as the cost-per-conversion is profitable. But if you don’t have an efficient funnel and offer, then the PPC will result in more traffic but the conversion costs will run in the red. (Even so, the PPC may still be desirable in a number of businesses, since the financial loss on the initial conversion may be surpassed by the percentage of buyers who make further purchases after they become a customer).
PPC Opportunity – Use the Data!
It’s a wasted opportunity if a business owner or marketing manager is not using the PPC platform data to inform improvements in the overall marketing strategy and sales funnel (not just the PPC strategy). Yet, in most cases, it’s not the freelancer’s role to consult the business owner about overall strategy or the business sales funnel, even if/when the freelancer or agency is aware of such.
As a simple example in another field, if you were hiring a company to execute your direct mail campaign, in most cases, you wouldn’t expect them to also inform your strategy or even your copywriting. Their job is to print the letters, stuff and stamp the envelopes and get the mail to the post office. In many cases, they aren’t even qualified to discuss strategy or copywriting — that’s simply not their job.
As a comparison, any PPC freelancer or agency should be technically qualified to interact with the details of their respective platforms, but that does not suggest their expertise extends outside the platform itself. For example, a common suggestion PPC freelancers or agencies may make when asked about increasing ad performance is to “spend more money.” Although that may generate more traffic and sales, it may also be contrary to the best interests of your business if it’s not going to increase ROAS (return on ad spend).
A more meaningful suggestion would be “Look, we’re spending 30% of your PPC budget on a product that is only generating about an 8% response. If we move that budget to the higher converting products, we’ll see a better ROAS.”
As a business owner you may say, “Thanks. Let’s do that right away.” Or, “Yes, I see that, but it’s our highest-profit product.” In the latter case, dedicating 30% of the budget to a lower PPC performing product may be a perfectly valid business decision. In certain cases, it might even be worth increasing that part of the budget, regardless of the lower response.
Additionally, significant data is available from the PPC advertising that can inform your overall marketing: such as demographics, geographic locations and keywords used by those who engage with the ads. For example, what if you’re selling motorcycle jackets and you find that 20% of your buyers are women but all your messaging is targeted to men? Or what if you are marketing consulting services to divorced parents and the PPC data reveals a significant percentage of respondents are also using legal keywords as a basis of their search and you barely mention this part of your service on your landing page? These represent important opportunities to change your marketing strategy and sales funnel. In the former, you would be wise to set up special landing pages for women with photos of women wearing the jackets. In the latter, you would be wise to expand the messaging of your legal-related services and test specific ad campaigns and landing pages targeted to those visitors.
Greatest PPC ROAS
The greatest ROAS re PPC expenditures can be derived from adjusting the overall strategy and sales funnel, not merely optimizing the logistics and details of the ad platform. (Although, of course, optimizing the on-platform PPC performance is mandatory).
The strategy and sales funnel (as well as PPC) may be best viewed as a living, dynamic entity that needs continual maintenance, evaluation and optimization, as opposed to something that is left on automatic.
For example, the best PPC technicians are worth their weight in gold because they may be able to generate a few percentage points better ROAS than someone who is competently experienced but not in the highest echelon of PPC performance.
Companies spending enough advertising money recognize it almost doesn’t matter what the high-level freelancer charges because the improved performance surpasses the money the advertiser would save on someone less experienced.
Regardless, the biggest gains are on the over-arching advertising/marketing strategy and funnel, not the PPC logistics.
The strategy includes the product/service offer (price, guarantee, return terms, etc.), as well as the landing page, copywriting, photos, videos, emails and the rest of the funnel.
Hence, you can hire the best PPC expert in the world and lose money if the PPC expert is only focused on maximizing the platform value of driving traffic to the funnel rather than leveraging the data to optimize the funnel. (Again the former is typically all they are expected to do. It’s YOUR responsibility to leverage the data).
In other words, the existing strategy may simply not have enough opportunity. Furthermore, the PPC expert is typically not getting paid to consult the business owner on sales funnel points, even when the PPC freelancer is aware of them.
You can derive much greater value and ROAS when hiring a PPC expert if you personally are:
1) Experienced enough to provide optimal instructions and know when the instructions are being followed or not.
2) And most importantly, evaluate the ongoing PPC data yourself.
Unfortunately, that’s not practical or real for many business owners and it’s an understood fact by the freelancers. As a result, certain freelancers and agencies will take your money, knowing that your instructions and strategy reflect inexperienced thinking and they may provide lower-value service because they recognize you’re not going to be around long and aren’t a good prospect for a long-term partnership.
You need a well-conceived marketing and sales funnel and it needs continual optimization. And the PPC metrics are a source of important data that can inform the sales funnel and strategy, not just the advertising on the specific platform.
Whether the PPC advertising is successful or not is relative to how much it costs to keep a stream of traffic flowing through your funnel profitably, while continuing to revise and optimize the ads and funnel before consumer response begins to lag while going through natural longer-term performance cycles.
A PPC freelancer or agency represents a partnership between the PPC platform and your own website and strategy. But the PPC platform can provide more value than just the PPC itself if you harness the data that it’s aggregating each and every day while you’re paying for advertising.
For Google Ads, this means you should have access to the online Google account controlling your ads so you can regularly analyze the data. For Facebook advertising, the Facebook Ad Manager is where you will gain the available info. For every other PPC platform, there is a respective interface to monitor analytics. Log into them. Look at them. Ask questions. Get answers.
If you use the metrics, your marketing and business will benefit from more than just the PPC advertising itself. It’s part of what you are paying for on a PPC platform, so take advantage of it. Furthermore, it will provide more value in your relationship with whoever is managing your PPC.
After 1984, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated regulations to govern the commercial content of television, infomercials began to proliferate the late-night airwaves because they were cheap to make and proved to be a highly profitable media, selling anything that could be easily shipped.
In fact, infomercials became so profitable that more and more money poured into the industry and by the dawn of the 21st century, big brands started pumping money into the infomercial profit party in a much bigger way. This raised the profile of the infomercial industry as a whole, and furthered the acceleration of rising rates.
Having been involved with some of the most successful infomercials, I have observed that infomercials, as an advertising media, have matured in a way somewhat analogous (although not nearly as fast), as what has happened in the Pay Per Click advertising channel. As PPC became a successful advertising model, over the years advertisers have driven up PPC costs.
Further, the level of sophistication in PPC strategies to stay profitable has also increased.
In a similar way, the costs and risks associated with creating and testing infomercials have skyrocketed since their humble beginnings.
And yet, the investment to test for sales potential via PPC is less than TV.
So, when someone asks me if they should produce an infomercial, rather than delve into the relative merits of their product or service and how broad the demographics are for the market that buys it, I simply ask how much testing has been done through less expensive media?
When that has been refined and scaled up to maximize the demand and profits, enough marketing data will be gained to determine what are the best keywords and messages that underlie this product’s success. And all that data will be very important as a research basis for scripting and producing an infomercial TV “test,” to see how it would do on a limited trial basis as a TV advertisement.
There is much more to know about creating infomercials, but the simple answer about whether you should create an infomercial for your product would be based upon how well it’s selling on the Internet and using the supporting data to help evaluate a translation to TV.
Stated another way, for most business persons, the question about whether a product would be successful as a national infomercial shouldn’t even be considered until it’s been tested online and then tested in smaller geographical regions on TV.
Stew Birbrower is interviewed by George Alger on the the basics of advertising and successful TV commercials. This brief excerpt from the interview highlights some of the most fundamental points, including:
1) Catch their eye 2) Penetrate their mind 3) Warm their heart
He also notes that music is a big part of the effectiveness of television commercials.
Stew is a former Madison Avenue Creative Director. From the 1960’s and into the 1990’s, Stew was behind some of the most notable TV commercials of that era.
Here is a partial list of clients that has Stew has worked with:
OK, yes, it’s true: there are in fact numerous errors that can be made when planning or hiring professionals for a video production. So how can only one be prioritized?
In my years of producing over 1000 videos for TV, web and social media, the #1 error that I encounter boils down to this: Someone with good intentions and influence — usually an executive or business owner — initiates a project by saying, “I’ve got a great idea for a commercial. Let’s get it made.”
Indeed, this is a source of good business for video production
professionals. And having a clear vision can make the process of
creating a video more efficient. But it’s usually ‘not’ the best way to
represent a company’s economic and/or marketing interests — particularly
Does this mean it’s always bad? No. But the odds are stacked against
any gut instincts when such may lack the experience to embrace all the
factors that make a successful video — whether that be a brief
commercial or something more substantial.
A better approach would be “We should consider video. Let’s explore this.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that one’s gut instincts or
inspired ideas should be ignored. The idea could be valuable to
informing the general concept. But it would be wiser to consider such
within the context of what you’re trying to achieve in parallel with
To put this in perspective let’s explore a few key points.
First of all, it’s common that an inspired video idea might be beyond one’s budget, which would immediately curtail the project.
Secondly, is the budget just to produce the video? Or does it also include money for broadcasting, distributing or in some way getting the video seen?
Sure, you could post it on Facebook and YouTube for free. But if you spent any meaningful resources on the video, the likelihood that it will generate enough exposure to make the project a success is low. (Viral videos are an exception to the rule, in the same way that winning the lottery is an exception to sound financial planning).
By the way, using Facebook and YouTube as part of a strategy to get
your video seen is quite relevant. But getting it viewed is only
reliable if you are “paying” to put it in front of the right viewers on
YouTube and Facebook, not just posting it online.
Thirdly, if the video is intended to be used as part of a sales strategy, the idea of “return on investment” becomes a factor, and here the variables can become capricious. (Good news follows below in this article regarding how to make the ROI more predictable).
It could be argued that this next point should also be under the
heading of “budget,” since the lack of a strategic vision, all in
addition to a video vision, could contribute to inefficiency and waste.
Nevertheless, its singular importance deserves its own heading.
You can ignore this if you are a marketing professional, since it’s so obvious you would not overlook it. But I’ve observed this to be true even with business executives who achieved a certain level of success in the past through their inherent marketing savvy. You could say they allowed their own enthusiasm for a video project to eclipse the fundamental context of their existing marketing strategy.
Stated another way, does one’s “inspired idea” or “gut instinct” for a video actually align with any existing company messaging?
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, your video
should align with your current marketing materials so that all your
messaging presents a unified presentation.
Unless, of course, a whole new campaign is envisioned, which would
then include new messaging for your website, newsletter, printed
materials and other advertising. Specifically, if you decide you want to
go after a younger demographic by making a commercial or promotional
video series targeted to the younger generation, but your website and
messaging is written for a different demographic, then the dissonance in
your strategic implementation will reduce the effectiveness of your
“OK,” you may say, “That’s too obvious.” And so right you are. But let’s get a little more nuanced.
Let’s say you’re a tech company and your website and existing
promotional materials all emphasize your cool hardware. But you are
inspired to explore a “more human approach” to your company’s
presentation by emphasizing the benefits of your products or services
over and above the technology, by conveying a touching story. Such is
fine and opportune as a vision. But it should also be represented on
your company website in pictures and words as well as any other
marketing channels in use. Not just in the video.
Video is such a potent way to convey messaging that a one-off production that does not fit into a broader strategic plan is rarely going to be as effective as one that fits into a holistic strategy for your entire business or nonprofit.
MESSAGE AND VIDEO TESTING
OK, this next point is not without controversy to smaller businesses,
even though its merits are inarguable. It’s just that its value becomes
even more important as your budget becomes more meaningful.
A core problem that many small and medium-sized businesses have is
related to strategic implementation — or more specifically, lack of
strategy to begin with. In my experience, a number of businesses view
marketing and advertising as “let’s try this and see if it works.” Given
that as a starting point, always bet that it won’t work and you’ll be
living a lavish life versus anyone who would bet against you.
Of course, it could be argued that such an approach is the result of business owners or execs being too busy to understand that every marketing channel, whether that be email marketing, display advertising, search marketing, commercials or any type of video promotion, has its own factors that should be respected for optimum results.
The good news is that your marketing/advertising ROI can be
optimized. As well, your strategy can be informed and refined by data.
That data needs to be derived by message testing, which is a disciplined
comparative analysis of how to represent your own products or services.
In practice, there is much that can be known about this topic. But to
keep this brief for any reader unfamiliar with the subject, the idea of
testing is to present multiple ads or messages at a time (to different
viewers) for comparison. Always present at least two. Online, it’s
relatively simple to test many different ads at one time, which are
swapped out in real time to different viewers. In other words, viewer
“A” sees one ad or message and in the same instant viewer “B” can be
shown a different version of the same ad. The marketer then analyzes the
data to determine which ad or message generated the most desirable
response. The ad with the best response becomes the “control” ad and
then new ones are compared against that to find an even better
performing control message.
Not only can this be done with video itself, but it can be done
before you produce the video. By testing messaging via simple online
text ads, you are then better informed to approve video scripts that you
already know will perform better. (Read “better return on investment”).
And then after you get to to the video production, you can create
inexpensive variations of your video messaging to further refine
performance. For example, sometimes you’ll find that a woman
spokesperson will perform better than a man. Other times, it’s the
opposite. Sometimes an older actor will engender more response,
sometimes younger. Sometimes it’s obvious. For example if you are
selling to a mature or young demographic it’s best to feature those
kinds of people in your video. Other times it may not be so intuitive.
For example, you may be targeting grandparents by featuring young
children who would represent the viewers’ own grandchildren for the
purpose of selling childrens toys or clothes to the grandparents.
Although testing is an ironclad path towards greater video
performance, as well as more effective marketing, advertising and
messaging in general, the argument against it, typically for small
businesses, is that it takes longer and costs more. That can’t be
ignored. It does take more time and resources. But when done well, the
whole point is to generate a higher ROI on your marketing and
Testing is how you can build more predictability into your ROI. And
by the way, in some cases, testing inexpensive online text ads before
moving to video may demonstrate early on that your gut instinct for a
great video doesn’t seem to generate the positive traction you were
desiring and you may determine to “not” produce the very vision that
initially inspired this exploration.
Testing is not only the path towards more effective video production. It’s the path towards marketing and advertising success.
Of course none of the above deals with the details regarding pressing
“record” on a video camera. For those familiar with the overarching
three phases of the video production process (pre-production, production
and post-production), the above would be categorized as planning and
A briefer statement regarding the #1 error in commercial video production would be neglecting that the more you invest in pre-production and planning, the better your ultimate results.
TV advertising costs can be surprising. Few things have such a cost variance as television ads. For most people, what’s not surprising is how expensive they can be. The main surprise is how inexpensive TV advertising can be. (Having said that, the least expensive options may not be the best opportunities, either).
Overall, the cost of producing a commercial can run from as little as $1,000 and upwards to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A more practical average could be from $3000 to $25,000.
Following are some fundamentals about TV advertising costs.
The Two Main Costs of TV Commercials
1) A TV commercial needs to be produced. 2) The TV ad needs to be broadcast.
If you have a fixed budget, you can spend less on the production and more on getting the message out on the airwaves. Conversely, you could spend a bigger chunk of the budget on the production of the commercial and spend less on the broadcasting. For most advertisers, the budget is dependent upon an evaluation of short and long-term business objectives.
Broadcasting costs can be as cheap as $25 for 30 seconds in a small market, or thousands of dollars in large markets.
National or Local TV?
National TV advertising is more expensive. Although some of the biggest brands may spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot on the Superbowl, a more realistic number would be in the six figure range for 30 seconds on national TV.
Conversely, local TV can be surprisingly economical. If you are a local or regional company and you aren’t selling a product or service to a national market, then the decision is simple: buy local TV advertising.
A local commercial on a local station at 2:00 am can run as cheap at $25 per 30 seconds. However, 2:00 in the morning may not be the best time to advertise your product or service, although it can be inexpensive.
TV Cost Variables
There are a number of factors that determine the cost of broadcasting a TV ad. Such variables include the region it will be aired (some areas are more expensive than others); time of day; day of week; quantity of viewers; length of the commercial (15 sec, 30 sec, 60 sec or a 30 min infomercial); and how frequently the ads will run.
More fundamentally, the cost of broadcasting a 30-second spot varies according to the number of viewers expected to be watching it.
To throw out some ballpark numbers on the low side, which would pertain to many small- to mid-sized businesses, a 30-second time slot in a medium-sized market can be purchased for as little as $5 per 1,000 viewers.
And bear in mind that a quantity of airings is vital to measuring effectiveness. If you run a commercial just once, it’s very unlikely you’ll see any increase in sales. Repetitive broadcasting generates the viewership familiarity that will make your message memorable.
Uploading videos to YouTube is easier than ever, primarily because the platform accepts a great variety of video lengths, as well as the majority of video formats.
In brief, any YouTube user can upload videos up to 15 minutes long. However, users who have a good track record of complying with YouTube’s Community Guidelines may be offered the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length (or 128GB, whichever is less), as well as live streams, which requires verifying the account, normally through a mobile phone. This even includes high-quality video formats, such as 4K.
But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the earlier days of YouTube, only low-quality formats and shorter videos were acceptable. For more info on some of the history of YouTube video upload specification, scroll down further. For now, let’s get to the current specs.
Supported YouTube File Formats
A video file format normally consists of a container that holds video data, separate audio data, subtitles and additional information such as the type of video compression used. Technically, the last items on the list, DNxHR, ProRes, Cineform, HEVC (h265), are compression technologies (codecs) and not video container formats themselves. Nevertheless, YouTube includes them in the following list anyway, likely for simplicity’s sake, so we’re including them as well.
YouTube Recommended Resolution & Aspect Ratios
‘Aspect ratio’ describes the proportional relationship between the width and height of video screens and video picture elements.
YouTube states that “The standard aspect ratio for YouTube on desktop is 16:9. If your video has a different aspect ratio, the player will automatically change to the ideal size to match your video and the viewer’s device.”
Hence, the following aspect ratios are all the same (16:9), which represents the shape of a high-definition TV. But the actual size (resolution) of the images are different, as depicted by their pixel lengths horizontally and vertically. A bigger image size is associated with higher quality video.
The ‘p’ in the name, such as ‘1080p’ refers to ‘progressive scanning‘ to differentiate from ‘i’ (not recommended by YouTube) which means ‘interlaced video,’ usually associated with TV.
Following are how three of the above resolutions and aspect ratios relate to each other.
A Word on Video Length
How long should your video be? Just because you can upload a video to YouTube that is longer than 15 minutes in length, should you? The short answer is “it depends.” For more info, visit What’s the Best Length for an Internet Video?
Video quality means different things. For this paragraph, we’re not talking about the quality of the content or the quality of the lighting or audio or camera placement or how well focused the camera was or was not. We are simply referring to the technical quality of the video file itself. In brief, the higher video quality you upload to YouTube, the better quality available to viewers. But viewers will not necessarily see the same quality that you uploaded. YouTube will provide a level of quality appropriate to the internet speed of the viewer in addition to the size of the viewer’s screen. In other words, just because you upload a 4K video does not mean viewers will see a 4K video. For example, instead they may see a 240p video if that is most appropriate to their internet speed and/or size of their viewing device.
A Bit of YouTube History
YouTube was founded in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who were early employees of PayPal. The platform originally offered videos at only one quality level, displayed at a resolution of 320×240 pixels.
In March, 2006, a ten-minute limit was introduced after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorized uploads of television shows and films.
On October 9, 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.
In March 2008, a ‘high-quality’ mode was added, which increased the resolution to 480×360 pixels.
In December 2008, 720p high-definition (HD) support was added. Also, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 (standard TV) aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9, which reflected the future of high-definition video and TV viewing.
In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added
In March 2010, YouTube began offering online streaming video.
In July 2010 the 10-minute video upload limit was increased to 15 minutes.
In Dec 2010, YouTube began allowing users to upload videos of unlimited length.
In October 2014, YouTube introduced videos playing at 60 frames per second, in order to reproduce video games with a frame rate comparable to high-end graphics cards
In March 2015, support for 4K resolution was added, with the videos playing at 3840 × 2160 pixels.
In 2016, YouTube discontinued the ability to upload ‘unlimited’ videos and instead limited the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length (or 128GB, whichever is less).
In January 2019, YouTube said that it introduced a new policy intended to stop recommending videos containing ‘content that could misinform users in harmful ways.’ This invoked controversy since is necessitates censorship in terms of what represents misinformation.
I receive regular inquiries from businesses seeking to partner with Skyworks Marketing on a 100% Pay-for-Performance (P4P) basis.
However, one aspect, in particular, can work against a business seeking such a partnership: Having a low priced product or service. You see, even with a high margin, particularly in a competitive market, such as weight loss, health, finance and insurance (as well as many others), there is not enough mutual opportunity.
Now, don’t get me wrong, competitive markets, per se, are not unattractive. In fact, the reason they’re competitive is because a lot of money is being made in that space. It simply takes more time and/or resources to compete in such an environment.
For example, a product that costs less than $50.00, even if it has a 90% profit margin, is not going to make enough profit, after the media buying, to make an attractive partnership from our perspective.
Of course, this could be profitable in the long-term with selective advertising and some very diligent (and lucky) social media strategies. But in my experience, to rise above the noise in a competitive market in a reasonable amount of time, ongoing media buying is what’s going to make it happen more predictably. (And even so — it’s still not guaranteed!)
A low-cost product or service means that advertising will eat up most or all of the profit, especially in the early phases. In fact, it will likely not be profitable until/unless a critical mass is reached whereby enough sales are being made on a big enough scale, which drives the media costs down and/or consumers are referring others en mass.
One effective solution is to offer more expensive services that would also be purchased by the buyers of the low-cost service afterwards. That’s a tried and true model to sustain the business via advertising. In such a case, it becomes important to calculate the value of a new customer or client to determine the workability. For example, if 30% of your buyers purchase an additional product or service within a certain amount of time (say 90 days), then that additional 30% could potentially become the actual profit stream.
In fact, it’s not unusual for some companies (particularly in the infomercial world) to lose money on their upfront sales (the sales that directly result from the infomercial). They simply make their profit on the upsells and follow-up sales.
Regardless, there’s still a testing evolution involved to establish proof of concept. And whose going to do the testing?
If you present the idea to a Venture Capital firm, or a Pay-For-Performance partner, like our company, the merits of your idea will be weighed against a number of variables, which boil down to risk vs. reward. The better a case can be made that your business is a low-risk, high-reward opportunity, the more likely you would be funded by a Venture Capitalist or that you might be deemed a desirable Pay-for-Performance partner, in which we would invest resources.
The reality is that in many cases, the great idea that you are proposing to gain support and resources for your business, is probably not as low-risk, high-reward, or even as unique, as you might envision.
Even if you are interested in a “partial” Pay-for-Performance partnership, whereby you are putting up media money and paying a reduced fee for marketing services, it may still not be worth investing our resources to prove the validity of your entrepreneurial vision.
Please do not interpret these words as a suggestion that such a product or service cannot be driven to a big success in any other way than buying media. There are definitely other ways to achieve success. It will simply take longer.
Question: Since videos can be published online of any length (even if broken into a series of segments), what would be the best length for a self-created video?
Answer: It depends on the purpose of the video and who it’s for. The following are guidelines and you will find exceptions for each.
1) “Introductory Videos” are short: 15 seconds to 2 minutes, and no more than 4 minutes. If you want to expose a brief message to as many potential viewers as possible, who do not otherwise know you, the shorter the better. Anytime someone clicks on a video they are making a small commitment or time and a shorter video just makes it easier for someone to make that decision. If they like what they see, then they may be more inclined to watch a longer video from the same creator.
2) “Content Videos” or marketing videos should be less than 10 min. These are videos that have good info and can even be condensed highlights from longer videos. They have the potential for being passed along to others if the content is valuable, interesting and/or entertaining.
3) “Training Videos” can be any length. Training, or educational videos could include how to use a specific software, or how to perform maintenance on an engine, or how to use a specific camera, or anything you can imagine. These could even be complete seminars. However, the longer a video is, the less likely it would gain traction as a property that gets passed along broadly (although anything can happen on the Internet). In other words, if a 3 hour presentation could be edited down to less than 30 min, it would generate more views. However, given a valuable enough seminar, there would still be a smaller amount of viewers who would watch the entire 3 hours.
In video and filmmaking terminology, a “transition” could be defined as the way in which any two video shots are joined together.
The first point to understand about transitions is that misuse or overuse of transitions is a sign of an amateur, in the same way that overuse of slide transitions in a PowerPoint presentation are unprofessional. Especially if too many different types of transitions are utilized. In short, any way that transitions call attention to themselves and distract from the video continuity would be poor utilization.
Conversely, when used professionally (“not” to the point of overuse), effective transitions bridge different video shots together to produce a better message or story flow.
There are significantly more transitions than depicted in this article, but the following are among the most widely used.
Video Transition: The “Cut”
The most common transition is the “cut.” This is simply one video clip changing instantly to the next shot.
Cuts are the best way to keep the action or momentum moving along at a good pace.
Straight cuts are not only simple, but they create smaller overall file sizes, which are an advantage for web videos. (In other words, adding transitions create larger video files, and on the Internet, smaller files are desirable).
Video Transition: The “Crossfade” or “Dissolve”
The next most common transition is the crossfade, or dissolve. This is simply one video shot gradually changing to the next.
The timing of crossfades can be made shorter or longer and they generally provide a more relaxed feel than a cut and slow the pace of the video. Dissolves can better convey a sense of passing time than a cut.
Video Transition: The “Wipe”
A wipe is a more complex transition, and includes a number of variations.
One way to think of a simple wipe would be imagining a single sweep of a slow windshield wiper as a transition from one shot to the next while it moves across the screen.
Variations include an iris wipe, a heart wipe, a clock wipe, and a star wipe, in which the name approximates the geometric manner in which the wiping motion occurs.
Examples: an “iris wipe” is like an expanding or contracting circle. A “heart wipe” or “star wipe” is like an expanding or contracting heart or star. And a “clock wipe” moves around in a circle.
Video Transition: The “Fade”
Two key transitions are fade-up from black and fade to black. Fading in from a single color, such as black, conveys a sense of “beginning.” And nothing says “the end” like a fade to black. (Fades can be used with other colors, too).
Keep it Simple
Effective integration of transitions should always be inspired by some aspect of the story that is being conveyed in your video. For example, a transition may signify a change in location, or a change in the pace of the action, or simply the passage of time. If there’s no specific reason to use a transition, keep it simple and use a cut.
Another application of transitions is to smooth out minor video (or even audio) errors, which could appear more prominent with a cut, but which may be less apparent by a well-placed dissolve.
As a concluding note: Transitions should not call attention to themselves. Their job is to subtly support the video story or message.