[Note: I released a similar post to this yesterday on our sister company's website]
One of the main reasons companies need a content strategy is to ensure that careful consideration be given to all the ways content might be expected to serve your organization – now and in the immediate future. Video is a classic example. Most video projects are a considerable investment, and in the recent past, these projects were often developed with television screens in mind as the primary playback display. Today that is no longer a given, and much video content is destined for viewing in a non-television format. In fact, video now needs to be considered in the context of 6, 7, 8 (or more) possible screen types/sizes. Let's review these from the largest to the smallest.
The video projects created for your firm might need to play on a mega-screen at a conference, sporting venue, trade show or other major event. Or, the video could end up being used on a large electronic billboard or for digital signage. In addition, your video project might need to work on a moderate-sized projection screen if you are giving a presentation to a large group. For these bigger uses, what format does it need to be: 16x9, 4x3, 5x4, or 2.35x1? Is there audio? How will that be handled? The size and scope of these jumbo uses might entail different content, creative, art direction, and design preferences. Resolution and distance from the screen is a big consideration, and so are ambient light and other distractions.
Moderate Size for Television Screen Uses. That same video content may need to be re-tasked for use in a television commercial or for other purposes on TV screens. Are you producing in high definition? Let's hope so – the future has arrived! Will it be in 720i, 720p, 1080i or 1080p format? Are you converting to video from film? Are you considering 3DTV production as an option because of this technology’s increasing adoption by consumers? Nowadays, television viewing takes place in a wide range of settings, so this needs to be considered as well. Home viewing is still the main use, but look at the growing ubiquitousness of television screens in bars, restaurants and other locations.
Desktop Sizes. The videos might need to play on high-quality, wide-aspect computer monitors of 23” or more. There are questions regarding resolution and color formats. There may be issues with compression algorithms and bandwidth – especially for streaming video.
Laptop Sizes. In addition to the uses noted above, your video production may be viewed via a laptop, a netbook, a big tablet device such as the iPad, or mid-sized tablet device such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab. What considerations do you need to take into account for these video sizes?
Mobile Sizes. Lastly, this video might need to be streamed to a smartphone and work with a whole variety of mobile bandwidth or technological capabilities. Will it work with Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, Blackberry’s 6 OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian OS and other systems? Will it be utilized in apps? How will it integrate with Flash or HTML5? And, especially with mobile, you might not only need to consider how you are sending video out, but also how you might want to receive it back as video social content.
Are you taking all of these uses into account when you develop video? Do you have a video content strategy? Can you realistically say your organization plans and integrates for viewing on six or more different screen sizes in multiple and diverse environments. Most companies don't do this and they should because it could be a source of considerable competitive advantage. By the way, that also applies to content strategy in general!
Of course, it is naive to assume that the exact same video work can be ideal or useful for all the purposes illustrated above, but some of it can be reused – in whole or in part. However, if there is no content strategy foundation to drive video content creation, it will more than likely be developed in separate “silos” within your organization and the result will often be higher costs, less versatility, less brand consistency and a poor or disjointed use of precious resources for content creation.
While we used video in this example, the same case can be made for other forms of content: text, audio, graphics, photos, etc. Content of all types needs to be thought of in a multimodal environment. The only sane way to begin this process is to commit first to a content strategy before committing to the individual pieces of content. There is much to be considered, and a substantial number of questions that need to be answered before production begins.