Quad/Graphics' Video Production Services: Lights! Camera! Printer!
Inspiration can strike at the oddest times. We often hear about the next greatest thing being imagined by its creator while in the shower, stuck in traffic on the highway, or even when cleaning out the gutters.
But, for the truly fortunate among us, there are times when opportunity knocks down the door and hits you over the head with a suggestion. And when that opportunity comes in the form of a client requesting that you augment your current product and service offerings to incorporate a new item that they will require—en masse—don't ask questions, just do it.
To be fair, Quad/Graphics doesn't fall into luck; you don't become a $4 billion-a-year performer by being in the right place at the right time. So while customers did, in fact, begin to clamor for their print provider to add video production technology to its arsenal, the 2010 development of Quad's media solutions studio in Bloomington, MN, is hardly a plug-and-play tale. One thing is certain: This is an offering that charted with a bullet.
"The writing was definitely on the walls," notes Greg Norton, video development manager for Quad/Graphics and an 18-year veteran on the creative side. "There was a big buzz about video in the industry, and customers would often ask about video and whether we had the capability."
One of the customers expressed an interest in doing high-volume product videos—how-to, in-use and demonstration segments—at the client's facility. Another sought to do "thousands" of product videos at Quad's facility. In order to make this a reality, Norton says, the concept and planning of the studio needed to be fleshed out.
"As we got into the process and the planning, we realized that high-volume video would require more than just turning on the camera, shooting video and delivering a final product," he says. "With high-volume production, you need a good workflow in place to get video production from point A to point B efficiently and effectively, all while allowing our customer to focus on their operation. They don't want to be in the video production business."
Quad/Graphics produces a wide range of videos from the Bloomington studio, which also provides photography services. Many of the videos it churns out are bound for the Internet (YouTube, for example), but customers have also requested products for other channels. Recently, Quad produced an educational DVD set that included 350-plus video segments. And the occasional furniture retailer will seek assistance for its local television marketing campaign. But more than 90 percent of its videos end up being posted on the Internet.
The 1,400-square-foot studio (including 650 square feet dedicated toward video editing) is stocked with the high-end toys that video enthusiasts relish. HD cameras are used for multiple purposes and environments. Aerial cameras—attached to remote-control helicopters—are utilized to capture unique points of view. A cinema line of cameras handle jobs such as high-quality fashion and product videos, as well as broadcast television.
The studio also boasts full sound capabilities and all voiceover work is done there. In 2013 alone, the studio produced more than 1,200 videos, half of which were done in the studio, the rest on location. Quad also provides video hosting services.
"For the first customer, we created an effective workflow that included everything from ordering the product, inspecting the product, writing the script, acquiring the talent and executing the video production," Norton remarks. "That same workflow is still in place. It allows us to produce about 450 videos for that client every year."
The video production arm has been quickly embraced within the Quad/Graphics organization. Word of mouth among its clients has helped, and the sales department—which has benefitted from training and instruction on the offering—has video samples it can send to existing print clients and prospects.
Norton is excited about the synergy that exists between video and printing, particularly with the growth of QR codes and image recognition. He cites a Pitney Bowes survey that showed 76 percent of small businesses see their ideal marketing strategy encompassing a combination of print and digital strategy.
"The technology that's available today gives us the ability to integrate print with video in so many ways," Norton says. "When you look at all the technologies available for a printed piece—QR codes, image recognition, anything that launches the experience for the customer—there's so much flexibility. You can literally be launching to a product video, Website or a blog from that printed piece.
"With video, you can do so much to extend that experience from the printed piece with clickable calls to action. Not only is it cool, it has so much potential, because ultimately you want to convert those viewers into customers."
Quad/Graphics hired a video search engine optimization (SEO) specialist to help extend the life and performance of all the videos it produces. According to Norton, the move to add the SEO specialist was a nod toward nurturing the video from inception through the life of the piece, making it relevant for a longer duration, increasing social shares and making them actionable.
Another critical augmentation was Quad's recently-announced buy-in of Cambridge, MA-based Pixability, a YouTube-certified marketing and advertising company that focuses on helping clients improve video marketing results. It helps clients increase brand awareness through YouTube and Google, the two largest search engines, while driving business both from brick-and-mortar locations and through e-commerce.
Norton feels that Pixability helps leverage the big data from the search engines to analyze the videos and their performance. It can also help Quad/Graphics evaluate its customers' competitors, and determine how its clients can outperform them.
"This creates a scenario that extends the life expectancy of a video," Norton points out. "You can make adjustments on video strategy based on the data that you get back. Maybe you learn that you're calling out the wrong thing in your video, so you make an adjustment. With our SEO specialist in-house and Pixability, Quad has become one of the few video studios that can offer this type of suite of services for our customers."
Growth on the Horizon
The Bloomington site is hardly an island in the Quad chain. New video facilities are scheduled to open in New York, Boston and Dallas during the second quarter of 2014.
"We're a big company with a lot of creative people, and we're always practicing the best-in-brand mindset, whether it's equipment, resources or software," Norton adds. "That will also be true for all of the new studios. We'll be sharing all the same equipment. They're not standalone video studios; it really becomes a big piece of our video offering that works together. So at any point, we can deploy any equipment or resources to any part of the country. Geographic boundaries don't hold us back because of all the talented people across the network."
Video is a brave new world of marketing communications, and it's growing by leaps and bounds. "Going forward, when you talk about TV commercials, they'll be for the Web, as well as the Netflix, YouTubes and Hulus of the world," Norton concludes. "I don't think we've even scratched the surface yet of where video is going." PI