New London’s online investment pays off
Videos near 100,000 views after 1 month
By Scott Bellile
An online video series about New London racked up 92,000 views in its first 30 days, pleasing those tasked with promoting the city.
Whether the videos heightened public awareness of New London or pumped outside dollars into the local economy will take time to determine. But the viewership analytics were enough to convince the New London Economic Development Committee to budget for more videos.
Last year the committee chose to try using modern technologies to reach new audiences. It reallocated $20,000 budgeted for fixing a city-owned billboard on U.S. Highway 45 to hiring Clintonville firm My Marketing Director to film four videos. The billboard remains untouched.
As part of the contract, My Marketing Director provides the city data on viewership.
“I love all these numbers. I feel like this is just light years ahead of a billboard,” New London Area Chamber of Commerce Director Laurie Shaw said at a Jan. 24 committee meeting. “This thrills me because I feel like we know people are doing something. This is awesome, but it’s like I want to get to that next step.”
Regarding “that next step,” the videos so far lack a call to action, whether it be prompting the viewer to visit a website, download a brochure or sign up for a service. My Marketing Director owner Bill Zeinert reassured the committee the first four videos were instead about raising awareness of New London.
The two-minute videos released thus far showcase small businesses, industries, geography and Hatten Park. The videos are found on the City of New London Facebook page and the New London Wisconsin YouTube channel. Facebook proved to be the more popular platform for the series.
The most popular Facebook video was “Main Street Entrepreneurs,” with 31,907 views and 56,518 impressions. (Impressions are how many times the video appears before someone’s eyes without necessarily being played.) “Main Street Entrepreneurs” celebrates North Water Street’s small businesses.
YouTube’s most popular video was “Centrally Located,” with 2,265 views and 9,031 impressions. This video offers outsiders an overview of New London’s geography and accommodations.
Zeinert explained Facebook is where people engage with their peers and catch up on local happenings, whereas on YouTube, people are there to track down specific video content. Therefore, “Main Street Entrepreneurs” may have hit a chord with local Facebook users who care about their downtown and who stumbled upon the video when their friends shared it. “Centrally Located,” then, could have generated interest among non-locals searching YouTube for information on New London.
Committee member David Asman asked if the viewership numbers indicate people are looking at moving to New London.
“Over time we try to get more data to confirm a narrative, to see if that is truly what people are reacting to,” Zeinert said. “Honestly it can also be other things,” such as locals watching to see who they recognize in the video.
Committee member Tom O’Connell asked if the popularity of “Main Street Entrepreneurs” means future videos should dive deeper into that topic.
“It’s only 30 days’ worth of data, so I want to caution you on making any major leaps here … but certainly it captured people’s attentions,” Zeinert said.
The videos were produced for approximately $3,000 apiece. Zeinert said the city has $6,900 remaining in its contract that it could spend on producing at least two more videos or on advertising the existing ones for another six to 12 months. He estimated any videos have a shelf life of two to three years as far as drawing viewers.
Committee members suggested making a video or two profiling the School District of New London’s school-to-work program, in which high school students work at local industries to gain experience, pay and college credits. The “next step” might come in, such as directing a student or a CEO to a program registration form.
“We could really do experimenting with this next one,” Shaw said.
The committee requested Zeinert write proposals for videos to finish out the remaining $6,900 as well as for a phase two of videos once this contract is up. No spending decisions were officially made.