October 25th 2009 saw internet history. U2 broadcast a live gig on the web from the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California – the band placed the show on the video-sharing site YouTube to millions of fans for free.

These types of online events are no longer a publicity stunt, or a PR gimmick to gain media coverage. Video is fast becoming the way to get noticed on the web, and increase your search engine optimisation (SEO).

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently predicted that online content is rapidly moving towards video – he estimates it will account for 50% of online content by 2015. Even now, according to a study conducted by Forrester Research, one quarter of US Google searches return videos in the results. Indeed, YouTube is second only to Google for search activity, with 3.6 billion searches in July 2009 alone.

Some may still not see video as a serious aid to their SEO, but this mindset is gradually changing. Online video is not just for those looking for funny home movies, or their favourite X-Factor star. Business is now looking at the power of video to help their SEO and engage with customers and clients. According to BusinessWeek, video content is 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than text pages – the benefits are clear.

Many Aspectus PR clients have ventured into the online video space with great success. I’ve picked out three examples which show how diverse this medium is. Fidessa, a world-leading supplier of trading systems, market data and connectivity solutions to financial markets, took part in the Financial Times Trading Room webcast. Steve Grob, director of strategy at Fidessa, spoke to Jeremy Grant, Editor of the FT Trading Room, on the receding transparency within the banking industry. Grob also spoke to Finextra on the changing state of European exchanges and MTFs. These are great examples of high-level, content-rich pieces of video content.

DeviceLock, an endpoint security provider, took part in silicon.com’s exclusive 60-Second Pitch. Vendors have just one minute to pitch their technology to a panel of independent CIOs, before being quizzed. This Dragons Den-style idea was perfectly focused at DeviceLock’s target audience – CIOs and CTOs. The three panellists gave the product three green lights, which was a great result for Sacha Chahrvin, DeviceLock’s UK MD.

Finally, TuneUp Utilities entered into the realms of YouTube. The optimisation software providers were happy to let their product loose on a couple of well chosen YouTube reviewers. With just one review receiving just under 20,000 hits, it too was a real success.

But there’s no magic formula. Creating effective video content isn’t easy. Loading up your home movie is one thing, but creating a coherent, effective message via video is a real skill.

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