Corporate Eye

What is Non-Linear Video Marketing?

We all know that the way we consume content online is changing fast. I invited Jon Mowat to tell us how he sees the best way to approach video marketing, given these changes…

Over to you, Jon!

Video marketing has changed.

Gone are the days of creating elaborate advertising and putting it out as identical videos, across as many platforms as you can think of. In today’s interactive world people aren’t just consuming video content across a multitude of platforms, they’re interacting with it and sharing it across vibrant communities and in all manner of different ways and at all times of the day.

As a result marketers are scrabbling over each other to get their brand noticed over the din. This is marketing in the frenetic and dislocated world of the non-linear brand narrative.


To understand how non-linear brand narratives work we must first consider the environment that predicated their emergence. This isn’t just about the growth of social media, this is about how people consume content on social media across multiple devices, often simultaneously. This is a crucial distinction as it helps us understand the way multiple narratives can be blended together.

The consumption of content across multiple devices is called omniscreening and it’s likely we’ve all done it at one point in our lives (many of us will do it on a regular basis). More often than not it involves sitting in front of the television while consuming content on your smartphone or tablet at the same time. It is this idle flicking between screens that has offered video marketers the potential to emigrate from the television advert break and colonise the content we consume on every screen we stare at. These are brand narratives that span platforms and formats and they are extremely powerful.

Omniscreening lies at the heart of the non-linear narrative and it has come about as a result of the habits we have fallen into in this 24/7 digitally connected age.

Minutes and Moments

Dr Simon Hampton is a psychology lecturer at the University of East Anglia and has noted that our tendency to flick between screens is grounded in basic and well understood human psychology.

“People’s inability to leave their phone alone is the newest addition to common displacement behaviours such as smoking, doodling, fiddling and picking. 62% of 18 – 32 year olds prefer to check their smartphone if they have any ‘downtime’ rather than just sit and think and 37% say they check their smartphone if there’s a lull in conversation with friends.”

Hampton’s studies have informed the concept of what I call minutes and moments. For most of its existence, traditional video marketing has been more or less confined to the television screen but now we carry our screens around with us in our pockets.

Advertising and marketing your brand on these mobile forever-connected screens is a world away from the passive audiences of the traditional TV ad break.

Consumers are often seeking out content without knowing what it is beforehand, browsing through a sea of information to fill that two minute window. Attention spans in this content saturated world are far shorter and can switch off or flick between apps and videos in a split second, so it’s become crucial to grab their attention in a short space of time.

These are the ‘moments’ in our non-linear narrative and they involve strong, bold emotional grabs utilising short form content on platforms like YouTube but notably also Vine and Instagram.

Telling a Story While Guiding Behaviour

Video marketers have long understood the need for emotional marketing to build brand recognition but linear advertising, however emotionally powerful, is not enough. Establishing non-linear narratives across social media and television allows consumers to engage and influence the story as it evolves and even tell their own stories, exploring your brand in a far more organic way. Marketing on Vine, YouTube, Instagram and other platforms involves understanding each platform and the audience you are engaging with on it. The desires, interests and demographics of avid Vine consumers may differ significantly from the casual YouTube consumer.

Vine users are interested in short, snappy messages, entertaining video clips that loop well and other bite-size content. Vine is great for reminding people about your brand, but it does not work so well for education. YouTube, on the other hand, allows for longer videos and attracts viewers who are willing to watch that content. YouTube videos can be longer and more educational or can tell a more detailed story. What works well when you are marketing in minutes is not the same as what works when you are marketing in moments.

It’s easy to mistake marketing in moments as simply trying to make noise by making bold evocative statements, but it is also crucial that you establish your narrative in these short vignettes. Brand recognition precedes and confirms brand association, which in turn created brand identity. Taking a viewer through this subconscious journey can be a subtle one and involve a number of different videos before an association has been made and a narrative ‘theme’ or ‘arc’ can be established. A shared video on Facebook here and a randomly discovered Vine there builds a picture and slowly draws the viewer into the wider narrative. These are when your minutes come in and it’s where you can actually talk about the benefits of your product in a more down to earth and more logical manner… in other words, this is the part where you get the chance to actually try and sell something.

Thanks, Jon…

Jon Mowat is the Managing Director and creator of Bristol based video production company, Hurricane Media, and has brought his expertise to bear across a number of successful content and video content marketing campaigns for both large blue chip corporations and small to medium sized businesses.

The following two tabs change content below.