Stuart Stubbs
Stuart Stubbs 9 April 2018

Should brands bring video production in-house?

If you're currently working in marketing for any large firm then you will no doubt by now have been involved in some way in the production of digital video content for your brand.

For those creating content on a more frequent basis, the question that inevitably arises is: "shouldn't we be doing some of this video content in-house? Surely there will be cost savings and, hey, doesn’t John from Accounts have the latest iPhone?"

For those considering in-housing the video content production process, here are a few points to think through before taking the leap.

So, what does 'doing video content in-house' actually mean?

At its simplest, in-housing your video content production is just the same as in-housing any other aspect of your brand's services. It will usually involve the allocation of responsibility for delivering that service to an internal team made up of permanent or semi-permanent staff rather than the use of an external third party.

Why doesn't everyone create their video content in-house?

One of the many tricky areas involved with the in-housing of video production services is the largely specialist nature of a number of the roles associated with making great films.

While many members of the team might consider themselves “very handy with a camera,” there are several reasons why the video production piece should be handled by specialists. So, if you're going to in-house video production services, you'll need to hire video production specialists.

That sounds expensive...

It can be. Hiring specialists, of any sort, carries considerable cost implications, not only on a per person basis but also as you decide how many additional staff to take on and exactly what kind of roles to in-house: Creative? Director? Producer? Cameraman? Sound? Lighting? Editor? 

Then there's the consideration of equipment: what to buy and what to hire. Do you need to own your own camera equipment? How about lights or sound equipment? Do you need to set up an edit suite in-house? You'll need space for that, and what about a studio to film in? 

Crucially important is the issue of data handling and storage. How are you managing the recording and processing of all this digital content and where will you store it, back it up and ensure it is easily accessible when you need it? 

And we haven't even touched upon the questions around how to effectively plan for video content before filming has started (strategy) or how the content is going to reach your audience after you've finished (distribution).

Are there not time efficiencies to be gained by producing our content in-house? 

Yes, potentially, once you've got into a rhythm of producing content. In a speed versus quality debate, however, a little more time and consideration given to the entire process will generate a far better final product.

Still on the fence? 

As can be seen by what we’ve covered up to this point, it's certainly clear why a lot of brands choose to use an external production company and specialist video strategists for their video content.

There are, however, two additional key points to consider if you're thinking about taking your video production in-house:

1. Quality, Quality, Quality 

If you are making video content, especially for external purposes, anything you produce will be a direct reflection of your brand. 

Therefore, quality must be the all-important factor in everything you release, just as you would expect for any services you provide or products you sell. If your video content is not of a high quality, then it could reflect very badly on your brand.

It's certainly possible that with relatively minimal equipment, the right people and good preparation, you can produce good quality, in-house video content, such as interviews with team members. We would argue, though, that this content really should be more for internal staff use released via the intranet, rather than external release.

Is there a place for rough and ready, self-made videos? Perhaps. It can sometimes work, for first person footage, live events or a moment captured around the office, but it's a huge risk and can easily backfire. It is important to consider the platform that this kind of content should go on: perhaps it would be more acceptable for Instagram rather than your own website.

2. "I've paid for them, so I'd better use them!"

The danger of spending time, money and effort on building an in-house video facility is the resulting pressure to feel you have to use it.

Two potential side-effects of this are: 

a) The risk of creative uniformity: as the creative direction will always come from the same pool of “heads,” your video content may tend to start looking the same.

b) Simply producing too much content: the risk of “creating content for content's sake” becomes all too real, with the possible outcome that quality will take second place to quantity.

The takeaway

In-housing your video content production does have a place and there are brands and publishers that have invested heavily to bring the process in-house (take a look at Starbucks, Unilever or BMW.)

It’s really important to think carefully about your commitment to video before taking the leap. Over a marketing year, what do you think you'll be wanting to film, for which audience and with what purpose. Is the kind of content you're wanting to create best suited to an in-house team?

The best advice would be to divide your video content into two groups: the larger promotional, mass audience, less frequent, higher budget content that you need to be perfect (out-source it!) and the rough and ready, more regular, interview-style content for release on social media or for internal purposes (consider creating in-house).

While there are certain types of content which it may well make sense for you and your marketing teams to produce yourselves, on the whole we would recommend having your video content made by the experts and leaving John in Accounts well alone.

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