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TED talk

TED talks are a familiar source of inspiration and information on the web. The non-profit was established in 1984 with the mandate to spread ideas in the form of short (18 minutes or less), powerful expositions. Over the years, TED has grown to cover just about every topic imaginable in more than 100 languages.

Chris Anderson, curator and head of TED, gave a talk in 2010 called “How Web Video Powers Global Innovation”. Anderson touts the critical role online video plays in society generally, and for his organization in particular. The video is nine years old but still relevant. Anderson says we are embarking on “the biggest learning cycle in human history”. Much of what he covers sounds obvious today, but it was prescient and cutting edge at the time when online video was still in its infancy. To give you a better idea of what’s changed, we were watching 80 million hours of YouTube daily in 2010. Now, we watch 1 billion hours of YouTube daily.

Video is a preferred form of online communication, with 55% of people watching a video online every day. There are certain non-verbal cues missing from text that we get when we watch a video. These cues facilitate our ability to learn and retain information. Anderson gives examples of growing social trends such as dancing and educational advancements from sharing ideas—all enabled through video. He concludes that we’re moving toward more two-way communication with online video that has the ability to create global conversations.

TED Talks—Online Video Today

We returned to the TED archives to search for a contemporary equivalent of Anderson’s talk; something that addresses how we use online video today. What we found was a talk given by Bill Haley, a Producer-Director and principal at Allied Pixel. His piece, “Personalized Video—A Better Way to Engage with Your World”, describes a thoroughly modern use of video.

This TED talk is about personalizing video messages. Haley uses the example of how his team engineered a system to produce videos for higher education institutions. That concept isn’t new. However, producing personalized videos en masse is new.

Getting Personal with TED Talks

Haley uses student “Nicole” to illustrate how this method works. Nicole was accepted at three universities and sent a personal welcome video from one institution. Using some basic data retrieved from admissions information, Haley’s team was able to create a welcome video that was more personal than a generic school greeting. The program works from a template that’s standard for each video and follows this format:

  • intro
  • major
  • activities
  • sports
  • living
  • close

Haley’s TED talk explains how the template is just the starting point. At the intro and close, Nicole’s name is used. Pretty basic, but still a step ahead of going nameless and addressing the student in a generic way. We also see some general information about the school off the top. Then, we start to get personal. Because Nicole told the school about her preferred major, the campus activities that interest her, and where she would like to live, the video can speak to those specifics. Targetting that information and fleshing it out led to a personalized video.

Preparing for the Personal

Making a personalized video meant gathering the necessary components ahead of time. Video content was created for various university-related majors, activities, sports, and housing options. This allowed a computer to insert appropriate information into Nicole’s video. The more generalized content that comes at the beginning and end of each video is also part of the ready-to-use system. Once the template was built, it could be populated with content specific to each prospective student. When sent to accepted students, the finished videos have the potential to lead to a higher attendance rate in an effective recruitment campaign.

Haley’s TED talk also addresses how this modular approach has potential far beyond personalized student videos. He proposes specialized wellness plans for the medical community, individual training programs in athletics, and even movies with storylines that cater to specific interests. The potential to personalize video can be expanded to a wide range of applications.

The Future is Personal

We already see targeted ads based on our online activity and personalized video is a natural progression. At Key West Video, we understand how video templates can accelerate production time by establishing a client format and then tweaking each video to include specific details. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to find out more about how you can make each customer feel like they’re your top priority.

This blog was originally posted in 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and content.

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