A new breed of producers has emerged representing a novel generation of producer/creator who seem to be at the forefront of reshaping the media landscape of tomorrow. One such company is Beirut-based Ecstasy Labs, which officially launched operations in September 2015. This production company was, from the start, keen on defining its edge by positioning itself as 'The Social Video Agency'. ArabAd caught up with Ziad Takla, managing partner at Ecstasy Labs to learn more about the incredible rise of video and the manifold opportunities this medium holds.
Could you provide us with a brief overview on the current state of the production industry in Lebanon and evoke the difficulties and challenges you've faced so far (if any)?
Production budgets are globally decreasing, not just in Lebanon. In contrast, the production market is booming exponentially. This is why I believe that video production in our country, which has been increasing in demand over the past few years, is entering a golden era, especially in terms of rich content for online. There is a growing realisation among everyone from big corporations to would-be investors and startups that to exist in the market requires existing in the virtual world and vice versa.
This paradigm shift in the marketing strategies requires solid backup from the video creators to be flexible and adaptable to constantly evolving technologies and media. To illustrate that, consider the value for money of a short-lived TVC, compared to a viral video that’s constantly shared or boosted, potentially with no time limits.
One of the fastest growing segments of digital advertising is indeed online videos. Has producing for the web changed the game for you as a company?
Social videos are changing the game for everyone. They have proven to be the most effective online marketing tool to date with the highest ROI by far. I predict that everyone will eventually hop on that bandwagon, and those smart enough to reserve their places in the front rows will soon be witnessing increase in their figures caused by their 24/7 online representatives that are videos. We created our social video agency to fill the much-needed gap of producing this type of videos, and we have been detecting the notable response from marketers who are beginning to grasp their important value. Video is huge -- and will be making its way into many companies’ overall marketing strategy in 2016 and beyond. Nielsen claims 64 percent of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future. It's easy to see why. Today, if a business isn't creating online videos, it will be missing out on one of the fastest growing segments of digital advertising. 76 percent of marketers at small and large companies plan to produce more videos this year, making it the top sector they will invest in, according to a Social Media Examiner report; a figure that's predicted to rise as more and more realise the potential.
Do you think the era of TVCs is behind us?
TV is quickly falling behind as a medium, handing the lead to mobile technologies. It is only natural that the TVC is losing its 'commerciality'. With the entire world going mobile, soon social advertising is going to take TV's advertising crown.
Some argue that production costs have fallen significantly in recent years. What's your say and how do you explain such a fact?
Production costs decreased because of the commercial availability of the production technology. It is more affordable than ever to produce a video with high standards even on an individual level with smartphones. This evolution is a double-edged sword: more videos being produced make it increasingly challenging to have an edge on the content level.
This is why you still need professionals to do this job, and this is why we work on creating teams that can handle this new production model effectively.
Advertisers need to dare investing in new ideas, work on innovative concepts, and most importantly create engaging interactive local and cultural content. Drastic change must occur in order to evolve and adapt to the current needs and opportunities.
What are the main trends that you've noticed and how are these affecting your workflow?
The increased consumption of online video content should come as no surprise. After all, there’s a reason why YouTube is the second largest search engine and one of the websites with highest traffic. eMarketer noted that more than 70 percent of Internet users watched online video content last year and industry experts predict that this figure will rise to more than 77 percent this year.
With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and others (Vlogs, e-learning, websites explainers…etc) leading the way, video content is the future of the digital content business. Brands and advertisers now understand the promise of distributed video content and you can expect the industry to dramatically expand in the coming years, which positively affects and allows us to work on becoming the leaders in this space.
What's the latest projects and big ideas you've been involved in?
We recently worked on the production of the latest Barista commercial with Intermarkets, as well as retaining their monthly video production. We also produced a spot for Khoury Home and Le Mall with M&C Saatchi, City Center activations with Grey Worldwide Beirut in addition to viral videos for Sesobel, and many others listed on our website.