Forget Super Bowl Commercials…these web companies know how to create awesome marketing videos.

6 Feb

By the time you read this post, Super Bowl XLV will be over and everyone will be talking about the … commercials.  Why?  Because most of them are entertaining, some are memorable, and the $2.5 million price tags (for air time alone) pique our curiosity.  Why are brands willing to pay so much?  Because it is one of the only ways to reach 100 million consumers simultaneously, and because a great 30 second video ad packs an emotional payload in support of your brand unlike virtually any other form of advertising.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed more and more web companies producing great videos to market their companies, often presenting them front and center on their homepage as the introduction to their company.  A great video overview can really help explain what you do for customers, how you do it, and present your brand in a flattering light.  The best videos go viral and bring you exponential attention and new visitors.   And web videos have never been cheaper to produce (at 1/2000th the cost of a super bowl commercial even a start-up can afford them.)  So, here are five thoughts on what makes a great marketing video for web companies, and a bunch of examples:

Answer WIIFM: A great marketing video should clearly and convincingly articulate a few simple benefits that customers care about. does a terrific job of this, as does Dropbox, both front and center on their homepage.  The Dropbox video is particularly noteworthy because it takes an esoteric concept and uses analogy to demonstrate user benefits everyone can relate to.

Show how it works: A great overview video shows just enough of the product and how it works to lend credibility to the benefit statement.  Word Lens does a terrific job of this for a product that truly needs to be seen to be believed.  A full blown demo would have been less effective than just these short glimpses of the product in action.

Be yourself: Video is such a rich and engaging medium it is perfect for showing the personality of your brand.  It is a great way to set tone and speak to your customers and prospects in an authentic voice. does a terrific job of this through music and images alone, letting actions speak louder than words in convincing you that they can make your personal homepage look amazing because they do such a killer job of presenting themselves through this video.  Style personified.

Be fun, get remembered: Great marketing videos are fun to watch and somewhat memorable.  You don’t have to be knee slappin’ funny or so hip it hurts, just smile-inside funny will go a long way.  SalesCrunch and SolveMedia both take pretty dry categories (CRM SaaS and AdTech respectively) and rivet their viewers through entertaining use of cartoons and wit.

Be Brief: Even a great marketing video starts to feel long after two minutes.  Shoot for less.  This video from Smartling gets the job done in 38 seconds.  [Disclosure: Smartling is a Venrock investment.]

These are the five characteristics which I think make for a great marketing video for your web company.  If you think there are points I missed, or have other great examples, please comment and add to the list.  If you are the production agency responsible for making any of these videos please take a bow by claiming your work.  I’m sure others will want to contact you.  If you are looking for more of a live action marketing video, SmartShoot and other online videographer marketplaces can help produce custom video for ridiculously low rates.

Thank you to Ward Supplee, David Pakman, Dev Khare, Dan Greenberg, and Arad Rostampour for sharing some ideas for this post.

8 Responses to “Forget Super Bowl Commercials…these web companies know how to create awesome marketing videos.”

  1. Luke Wilbanks February 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    This is an excellent set of rules by which to create content for the web. I’ll be checking back here often for your take on advertising and startups.

    • brianascher February 9, 2011 at 12:03 am #

      Thanks. I’ll try not to disappoint!

  2. Melissa Foster February 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Brian – Thanks so much for including us! We are pretty happy with the way our video turned out and it is fun to see what others are doing. We shared your article with our readers:
    Best – Melissa

  3. Nikhil Shah March 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Nice post, and a good selection of video recommendations to check out for some inspiration.

    We’re pretty happy with our Mixcloud “about” video too – check it out if you get a sec:

  4. Lylan Masterman April 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    When I was at CrowdFlower, I worked with an animator to create a similar fun video describing our business listing verification product:

    I strongly agree with all of the advice. One extra challenge that I created was to focus on the visuals before the audio. If people can watch your video on mute and still understand your product and be entertained, then the audio portion is simply icing on the cake.

    • brianascher April 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

      Great advice and video. I love the humorous visuals and the choice of music.


  1. Forget Super Bowl Commercials…these web companies know how to … — All Personal Homepage - February 8, 2011

    […] Go here to read the rest: Forget Super Bowl Commercials…these web companies know how to … […]

  2. Forget Super Bowl Commercials…these web companies know how to create awesome marketing videos. - February 8, 2011

    […] Brian Ascher, Partner at Venrock, shares some great marketing videos on his blog today, VC Waves, and CrunchConnect is included. Check it out! […]

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