Data Center Video Effectiveness in a COVID-19 World

Dan Ephraim is a data center industry veteran and Principal at Infrastructure Market Associates, which provides strategic counsel on the data center industry’s usage of video, with a keen eye on trends, best practices and buying behavior.

Data Center Video Effectiveness in a COVID-19 World 1


COVID-19 has indefinitely impacted the ability for sales professionals to connect with prospects and clients as firms of all sizes encourage employees to avoid travel, in-person meetings, and events.  As data center companies spend less time engaging in-person with influencers, stakeholders, executive sponsors, partners, brokers, and decision makers, platforms like YouTube should be leveraged to mitigate this shift in buying behavior.

According to Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, people pay in excess of 2x more attention, equating to higher retention rates, to YouTube videos than they do on other social media. In addition, according to Animoto’s 2020 Consumer Insights Survey, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X rated YouTube as the platform where they make purchase decisions, with 60% of Gen Xers preferring video when learning about a new brand or product.

In spite of the evolving nature of how people are making decisions, data center providers consistently place more emphasis on LinkedIn and Facebook for lead generation investments.

Historically YouTube has not been a friendly lead generation platform thus making marketing executives cautious about significant ongoing investments.  That said, the firms that are best able to successfully leverage video for leads will be the winners and, to date, no clear winner has yet to emerge.

Measuring video’s effectiveness is a challenge, but must not be overlooked as production costs range from $1,200 for a basic video to in excess of $50,000 for a premium video using animation. Let’s take a moment to look at two examples of how video is being used, some tips to improve videos that have already been produced, and ways to improve data center video moving forward so it allows for the collection of meaningful and measurable data.

How Do You Measure Success?

Like other industry leaders, QTS Data Centers invests in video messaging and launched a YouTube channel in September of 2011 that has 87 videos, and more than 225 subscribers and 28,800 views. QTS is unique in the market in that roughly 25% of its entire video library highlights the culture and quality of its staff. This aligns with what buyers are seeking and is a very impressive use of their investment.  It is also highly differentiated from other firms that choose to invest most all their resources into virtual tours and thought leadership-oriented content.

Promoting culture and staff is not content that lines up well with a call-to-action. But a site selection person at a hyperscale cloud provider recently shared with me that “QTS has outstanding people and their operations staff are some of the best in the industry.” QTS is successfully aligning their content with their messaging around the value proposition of their employees.  That said, without a meaningful call-to-action it is difficult to say if tracking an ROI on this type of investment is even possible.

As data center companies spend less time engaging, in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions, platforms like YouTube should be leveraged to mitigate this shift in buying behavior.

Shifting gears, let’s look at a video that CyrusOne published in November of 2013 titled, Chandler / Phoenix Data Center Virtual Tour.  Like QTS, CyrusOne’s total body of work illustrates an understanding of the value of video, with 32 tour-oriented videos going back to 2013 and views totaling nearly 100,000. The video in question has roughly 11,750 views and is CyrusOne’s second-highest viewed video. Given the quality of the animation, a video like this could cost up to $30,000 – which works out to about$2.50/view, well above the CPV of $0.50 that is widely regarded as the standard among marketing analysts.

However, this CPV is not an effective representation of the effectiveness of the investment. The month that CyrusOne published its video, The Atlantic published an article titled Why is the World So Loud that depicted the CyrusOne Phoenix project in a negative light. If we were to assume that just 1% of The Atlantic’s readership of 425,000 were to watch the video, the existing ‘views’ count would be cut nearly in half.  In this case, the high volume of traffic reveals the video to be an outlier, with the total views likely being misleading as the emotional engagement with many viewers may have been negative from the start and not in CyrusOne’s control.

Both examples illustrate the uniqueness of the medium and why measuring and monitoring any given video’s effectiveness rate matters.  In the instance of QTS, the TCO will most likely never be correlated to a single deal, but it clearly resonates within QTS and reinforces their company value claim.  In the instance of CyrusOne, measuring the effectiveness rate based off page views does not adequately tell the full story and skews the ROI.

YouTube Tips for Data Center Video Marketing

These two examples illustrate the need to not only evaluate how content is used and measured, but also emphasizes the importance of best practices to capture the full value of the investment.  Just a few best practices include:

  • Populating the “Description” section under the video with content about both the video and company links to other content like news coverage, press releases, awards, and other relevant social media platforms.
  • No less than 2 links should have a defined and deliberate call to action where inbound traffic can be measured.

For those in the process of creating new content, IMA recommends some changes to avoid making the same mistakes including:

  • Integrate Google’s TrueView for Action Form Ads solution, a relatively intuitive and cost-effective way to integrate a call-to-action function that can be tracked.
  • Include the smiling faces of employees or actors to engage and include the viewer.  As one industry executive has been known to say before his sales organization, “people like buying things from happy people.”
  • Personalized video messages engage viewers in a manner that brings people into the story and helps them appreciate the moment.  Tools like VidYard, among many others, allow for personalized content to be delivered at scale.  Providing sales professionals, the tools to create personalized videos that can be shared with customers, prospects, and partners is a meaningful investment.
  • Keep an eye on video length! According to Statista, a research firm specializing in market and consumer data, commercial focused videos should be 1 to 2 minutes in length when expecting viewers to retain the content.  That said, content that tells a story requiring viewers to think through the subject material should be no more than 4 minutes in length according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Every day data center firms pass on creating compelling, sustainable, and measurable campaigns should be considered a lost opportunity, as enterprises continue to make their strategic decisions around their colocation and cloud partners. Data center providers must stay vigilant on telling effective and compelling stories with laser focus on building a strategy that is measurable and targeted.

The Infrastructure Market Associates video database catalogs over 1,500 videos produced by multi-tenant data center providers.  IMA tracks and evaluates the data  IMA helps companies benchmark against their industry peers and develop sustainable and measurable video-based strategies.

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