8 Key Takeaways from Video First Conference 2020

Thomas da Luz

Feb 27, 2020

20 min read

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One week ago, we welcomed 400 professionals at the Wild Gallery in Brussels for an exciting day in our Video First Universe. 🌟 Video First Conference 2020 was all about getting inspired, figuring out the endless possibilities of video for your brand, and getting hands-on advice from trailblazing video experts. Here are our top takeaways from VFC 2020. 🚀

1. Your Brand Identity needs to be crystal clear to be able to make successful video content.

Your brand identity is how you are perceived by your customers. If your identity is not 100% clear to you, then how are your consumers supposed to form a clear opinion? That's why it's super important to decide on your tone of voice and use it in a uniform way throughout your videos. This is something that has really nailed: their tone is always the same: they focus on local events and always add a touch of humor, and that allows them to create content that resonates with their audience.

The importance of brand identity was also emphasized by in their presentation, in which they state that the first thing that needs to be clear is your Voice, the second thing is you need is an insight, and the video production is the glue that pulls this all together. uses a B2C Voice even though they're technically a B2B tool. So they speak to individuals and their struggles, rather than to other businesses - this is a fundamental part of their brand identity, so it always comes in first place and that's what makes their videos successful.

2. Authenticity is key (always has been, always will be).

The importance of authenticity is something that was emphasized by almost every speaker at VFC 2020, and rightly so! With today's audience becoming almost blind to the overload of brand messages they receive on a daily basis, authenticity really is key. Jens Nyström, founder of the YouTube Channel Stomp It Tutorials, stated that authenticity was the most important element in his strategy, which allowed him to grow his channel from 0 to 200.000 subscribers, becoming the most watched YouTube channel for skiing in the world. It's time to show the real people behind your brand, and even show the fails, because people will grow to like you or your brand a lot more if they see this side.

The idea of authenticity is closely related to Matt Gielen (Owner of Little Monster Media)'s statement that personality is one of the key elements that makes people watch a Youtube video. You need to create or show personalities that your audience connects to.

One of the most authentic videos we saw might have been this one, picked by Kimia Namadchi from Google. The video has almost 200.000 views!

Authenticity is also one of the secrets to Studio Brussel's success: in the past years, they've been focusing on content that shows real conversations rather than scripted ones - such as their latest episodes of Flowjob and Singles for Singles

3. Start using the right data & metrics.


Achieving results with video is all about using the right data as the basis for your video strategy. The problem is often that we don't know which data to use. StoryMe's Head of Performance, Thomas da Luz Duque, talked about the data you can and should use as a brand, such as data from market studies, past data from your own campaigns and experiences, public data about audiences on social media platforms, etc. He also emphasized the need for brands to use this data to decide who they really want to (re)target in video advertising campaigns.

As stated by Menno Dellisse, the purpose of data is also to communicate in a personalized way. In Storyteq's Video First Lab, Jasper Meijer showed that rather than manually creating different videos for different people, you can use personalized video technology to let your video content automatically adapt to the available data of the viewer. Personalized video is not only something that should be used by marketing, but also by HR! Here's an example of how StoryMe uses personalized video in HR.


When you're choosing KPIs for the success of your videos, it's important not to get caught up in vanity metrics, such as views or impressions. Because, as Phil Nottingham stated, the number of impressions is not the number of people impressed. Impressions and views don't usually tell you anything about how well your content actually resonates with your audience. That's why it's way more important to look at metrics such as watch time and watch rate, because these indicate real interest. Matt Gielen also stated that you need to measure resonance, and not just reach. And by resonance, he means the time that real engaged users spent watching your videos.

At, the team dives deep into the metrics to see whether an ad also generates non-clicks, rather than just using the usual click-through rate as a metric:

"For us, 50% of signups come to our homepage straight from the ads, the other 50% come up to 4 days later (non-clicks) - and they are actually higher quality sometimes! That's why we measure not only what we get instantly, but hours or days later as well."

Maria Miroschnichenko

YouTube Team Lead at

4. Test, test and test again.

As Menno Dellisse, founder of Grower, stated in his opening keynote, change and transformation are opportunities to grow. Online communication platforms are continuously changing, so your strategy and content should be too! To know what works for each platform and audience, it's essential to test.

As Thomas da Luz Duque, Head of Performance at StoryMe, emphasized, there's not one holy bible for which videos will work and which will not. That's why it's so important to A/B-test with different elements in your videos, such as the hook or the CTA. The main content of your video should be based on clear objectives and any available data to make sure you're creating content that will still guarantee a certain level of success, but then the A/B-tests will allow you to tweak and optimize to get to the final, best performing videos for each platform.

Molly Sonenberg, Video Creator at, also shared some great insights on how they test their video ads and continuously try to refresh and optimize their video content. They always start by testing their videos on a broad audience, and then they learn from the data to tailor their ad content. The team explained that after their first broad tests, they saw that the marketing segment was working exceptionally well: most of the paying sign-ups came from that segment, so they went on to create a new and improved campaign for marketeers based on these insights.

5. Try new formats.

Brands need to be coming up with fresher & more innovative content to keep up with the continuous changes in today's communication. Video First Conference 2020 was a source of inspiration for brands willing to try new formats, both on their own channels and on external channels.

Matt Gielen talked us through 8 possible video formats that you could try on YouTube: from the well-known ones like explainer videos or interviews, to the increasingly popular listicles (e.g. Best Of, Compilations) or challenge videos. These types of content have usually been user generated, but now it's time for brands to experiment with these formats to try and get more engaged viewers.

What's more: the best performing videos on YouTube are now the hybrid ones, that combine two different formats to create new content. For example, if you explain something in the form of a list (listicle + explainer video), it keeps the viewers' attention more than the usual explainer video!

Brecht Vaes, Head of Digital at Studio Brussel, also showed how the radio station has managed to become so successful by broadening their content to lots of different formats. They started creating podcasts, online episodes, and are now doing collaborations to create even longer-form content such as their series "Labels", co-created with VRT.

6. Bigger budgets don't always mean bigger impact.

Jens Nyström emphasized the importance of thinking value first: if your content is valuable, then you can definitely reach your goals without needing the most pro video quality - as long as the content is great and the video quality is good enough, your impact can still be high. In that case, doubling the production budget won't necessarily generate double the results.

Another great example of this topic was's case in which they compared their DIY video produced on a €50 budget, to a €15K production and a €82K production. In fact, the €15K production performed the best out of all of them, bringing the most sign-ups for their tool out of any ad and leading to a huge return on investment!

In fact, as we can see in their graph, the most expensive production really didn't achieve the results was hoping for. Proving once again that all we can do is test, test, test!

One of the Video First Labs at VFC was all about creating successful DIY videos, proving that you can still reach some of your goals with videos produced on a small budget. For example, StoryMe's Video specialists showed that you can definitely create a recruitment ad with just a couple of DIY guidelines and a small budget - just like this one from Tribe!

This video was created with a smartphone, some paper and a pen, and finished off with some punchy music. The result? An effective recruitment video, on a limited budget!

7. Understand Gen Z before you try to reach today's youngsters.

Carsten Meijer from VICE opened his keynote with the statement that "the world is young" - so it's the youngsters you need to convince! Generation Z (under 21 year-olds) offers a huge opportunity for today's brands, as 73% of Gen Z states that "brands help them express their identity".

But to get young people to like your brand or business, you need to understand them first. During their keynote and video first lab, VICE covered a few key elements that identify Gen Z:

Gen Z will choose the brands that align with their values, so it's more important than ever for companies to take a clear stand on political and social causes and show their brand identity and purpose. Patagonia is a great example of a brand that has thrived in the past years because of their values and purpose:

Gen Z are also the biggest bullshit detectors yet. That's why again, authenticity is key when you want to reach this generation. To stay connected & true to their younger audience, always tries to find a link with their audience through their culture, which they then use to create authentic videos.

They create up to 6 videos a day and they do so in-house. So no super expensive productions, just real authentic content that responds to current trends and topics:

8. Trends for the Video industry
1. Artificial Intelligence

Matthieu van den Bogaert, Video Marketer for Vlerick Business School, gave an interesting Video First Lab on the power & potential of AI for Video Marketing. In fact, AI is already being used a lot in video marketing today, but brands aren't leveraging the power of it yet. Matthieu shared some valuable tools for you to use AI to create video content:

Behind the scenes of an AI-made script for a Lexus commercial

2. Long-form content

Long-form content is definitely a trend that brands should try out according to Phil Nottingham from Wistia. He stated that "we might be overestimating the power of advertising and underestimating the power of making long, binge-worthy content". By putting great content on your own channels and using advertising just to drive people towards it, you become your own distribution channel and you own your audience data. This is what Wistia did with their show "Brandwagon". They've thrown their marketing strategy upside down: from short video advertising to long form content, and they explained it in their trailer for Brandwagon:


Thomas expanded on predictive modeling: a technique that uses statistics to predict potential outcomes of your ads. And with the rise of AI and machine learning, predictive modeling was brought to the next level. It now allows you to exponentially increase the variables you can test in a single campaign, and to model the impact of all kinds of possible variations of your ad.

For large companies who are advertising on TV, OTT (over-the-top) will soon become the new way of advertising. OTT is a way to target your ad delivery on internet-connected TV's and devices, allowing you to advertise through Apple TV, Amazon TV etc. OTT offers some of the benefits of the advertising we know, such as targeting and dynamic ads, but then on the big screen!

As you can tell, VFC inspired the audience with a huge amount of different insights and hands-on advice from different speakers. It's up to us now to take these insights and tackle the rest of our 2020 goals in a smart, Video First way!

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