Generative AI in video: How Canadian companies are using it

Published on 2023-08-24 by Tessa Anaya

Video marketing is becoming an important part of many marketers’ toolkits. We surveyed over 250 marketing professionals and executives to find out how important the format is for their business and what the future holds.

Using generative AI for video creation

Video marketing dates back to the silent movies of the early 20th century. But the discipline continues to evolve —and quickly.

In 2023, businesses can create videos at very low cost using widely available technology like smartphones. They can then place these videos fairly accurately in front of their target audiences on social media, in apps, and across the web.

Of course, converting these marketing campaigns into revenue and profit is the tricky part, and small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) may be wondering whether video is the best way to spend their marketing budget. 

To find out more, we surveyed 266 marketing professionals in Canada who work at companies that use video. In part 1, we focused on organic video (i.e. video that companies or brands create and publish on their own social channels). In this second article, we focus on paid video advertising and how companies can track video performance with marketing analytics software. We also take a look at generative AI (GenAI), which may be poised to turn marketing on its head altogether.

You can scroll down to the bottom of this article for a full methodology.

Of the 266 marketing professionals we surveyed, 77% said their company runs video advertisements on social media. This involves a company paying to have their videos appear in people’s feeds even if they don’t subscribe to that brand. Many social networks also allow companies to target specific audiences based on location, age, interests, job role, or other characteristics.

In our survey, the companies who pay to promote their videos use a wide variety of content for these ads. Attention-grabbing videos and explainers were popular, as were traditional ads. But event videos, trends, customer testimonials, and live videos were also part of the mix. This broadly reflects the diversity of content we saw for organic videos.

Types of video content advertised on social media platforms by Canadian firms

The marketers who use paid video advertising on social media found that two targeting options in particular deliver high conversion rates for their companies. These were demographic targeting (gender, age, location, language) and targeting by interests and behaviors. 62% found each of these methods successful, but respondents also reported good performance with other methods:

  • Lookalike or custom audiences (i.e., showing ads to people who share characteristics with existing customers) — 49%
  • Smart targeting (i.e., using AI to predict the preferences and habits of internet users, such as target expansion, automatic targeting, or targeting recommendations) — 43%
  • Device targeting (i.e., connection type, OS, device model or price, mobile carrier) — 35%

Serving up the right types of video to the right audiences should result in a compelling return on investment (ROI) for companies. If marketing teams are doing their job properly, their spend should result in increased sales or profitability for the company. 86% of those using video advertising on social media said they had seen a positive ROI in the past 12 months. 5% said their ROI was negative (i.e. they spent more on video advertising than it brought back in revenue). Somewhat surprisingly, 9% said they didn’t know or didn’t measure their ROI for paid video marketing on social media.

Of course, there is a delay between the initial investment in paid video and the eventual returns. Of those who have seen a positive ROI in the past 12 months, 72% put that delay at somewhere between 1 and 12 months. Results will depend on all sorts of factors, but 7% have seen success in under a month.

The overall verdict on paid video advertising via social media seems to be positive. As well as the overwhelmingly positive reports of ROI, most marketers say that video advertising is beneficial to their business— 50% think it’s ‘moderately valuable’ and 37% ‘very valuable’.

Key takeaway: The large proportion of marketers that use video advertising on social media have identified the content and targeting strategies that work. This is borne out by the relatively quick positive returns that they see. But the fact that nearly one in ten don’t know how successful their video advertising is suggests that marketing analytics software, with its ROI tracking functionality, could be a worthwhile investment.

These tools can help with:

  • Monitoring how ad spend translates into revenue and profit, by tracking how people go from seeing an ad to visiting a company's website and making a purchase.
  • Working out the cost per lead or cost per click of visitors to your website.
  • Getting a better understanding of audiences across channels to serve up the most appropriate videos to the right customers.

Video budgets on the rise for many

The realization of the value of video marketing —both paid and organic— translates into more budget for it and a greater role for social media in a company's overall marketing strategy.

The biggest benefits that our survey uncovered don’t usually figure in many management meetings at typical SMEs. But marketers said that the ability to access a younger audience and create viral content were the biggest advantages of using video content. These were followed by the fact that video helps consumers retain information and the ability to convey messages in a powerful way.

Top 3 benefits of using video content for marketing/advertising 

This focus on the surface-level benefits of a video continues through to marketers’ perceptions of success. When asked how they judge the success of a particular video, view count, engagement (total view time), and other analytics provided by social networks were the top three responses. ROI-focused metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and conversion were rated much lower. Only 44% use CTR, and 22% measure conversion rates.

Nevertheless, many of those in our survey say their company dedicates significant portions of their marketing budget to video. 40% say that between 21% and 50% of their budget goes on video, and 20% spend more than half their total budget on it. Overall, these allocations have stayed steady or grown between 2022 and 2023. More say they have increased budgets for video than let them stagnate, and only 11% saw them shrink.

Video marketing spending budget in 2023 compared to 2022
Key takeaway: The data here suggests that marketers are happy with their video marketing performance, even if that does centre around views and likes rather than dollars and cents. Again, robust analytics tools can help teams track how social media engagement translates into sales and, ultimately, profit. Currently, 56% of all survey respondents use such software.

Protecting brands on the unpoliced web

Web advertising can be something of a wild west. Companies often work with ad exchanges who automatically place ads on websites and apps (known as publishers) according to who is viewing a particular piece of content. This is all automated and happens within a fraction of a second. Companies, therefore, don’t have direct control of where their ads appear and on what sites. If ads appear next to harmful, objectionable, or even illegal content, the reputation of the brand behind them can suffer. 50% in our survey said they have seen inappropriate placement of video, and 30% say this has happened more than once.

Marketers in our survey appear wise to the risks of this and have taken steps to protect their brand.

Safety measures taken by Canadian brands to protect their online reputation

All of these tactics are in use at at least one-third of companies, but no one tactic is used by a majority. This perhaps suggests that brand protection is still an emerging discipline, and that companies are still finding their feet.

Key takeaways: respondents recognise that online marketing can be a turbulent industry, and have begun to take steps to mitigate risks to their brands and their business. If you are concerned about how your brand is perceived online, reputation management software may be a good investment. It allows marketers to track what people are saying about their company online and use the insights they get to inform future campaigns.

Is GenAI already changing video marketing?

It has been hard to escape the excitement around generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in the past year. These models can generate text, images, audio, and video trained on massive datasets. Using GenAI tools, it's possible for marketing teams to create video content simply by introducing a prompt. This offers huge potential savings versus producing videos with animators, camera operators, directors, writers, and editors.

Marketers in our survey are excited by the possibilities. 31% said they have already used GenAI tools to create video content, and another 48% say their company is interested. This latter group appears to be more attracted by the possibility of creating more videos at a lower cost rather than improving quality. Those who have used it report that these expectations can broadly be realized.

Benefits users have experienced using generative AI for video creation

Marketers that have used GenAI for video creation also reported some drawbacks. The top three of all related to video quality:

  • Lack of control over the creative process (45%)
  • Concerns about the originality of the generated videos (44%)
  • Generic or repetitive content (39%)

That said, those who have tried GenAI appear happy enough and most are looking to increase their usage. Nearly two-thirds (62%) say they want to use GenAI more, while only 4% plan to stop. Given that posting video consistently was the number-one video marketing challenge for our respondents (cited by 50%), it’s no wonder that automation using GenAI is so attractive.

Key takeaway: GenAI seems capable of creating large volumes of video at low cost, which would go some way to meeting marketers’ challenges. However, users report issues around quality and originality, both of which they also cited as key factors in a video’s success. 

Any business investigating GenAI for video should proceed with caution. As well as the potential for generating poor quality or derivative video, GenAI tools may be breaching privacy laws, too. Authorities in Canada have begun investigating whether OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, gathered sufficient consent from users when handling their personal information.

Public use of this technology is still in its infancy, and companies should thoroughly investigate whether it complies with their own data protection, cybersecurity, intellectual property, or ethical policies before experimenting on such seemingly small projects as videos for social media.

What’s next for video marketing?

The future looks bright for video marketing. Practitioners seem to know what content works, how to maximize engagement, and how to avoid potential mishaps for their brand.

Most marketers in our survey say that the money they spend on video marketing is well spent, but our research has revealed that companies may be having some difficulty in tracking how video views convert into business results.

Nevertheless, budgets are set to rise or stay steady, and many are looking to maximize their investment with GenAI.

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GetApp’s data for this study was gathered through an online survey conducted in June-July 2023 in which we surveyed 266 people residing in Canada from all regions in the country. The sample of participants is representative of the population of Canada regarding aspects of age and gender, and the criteria for selecting participants are as follows:

  • 18-65 years of age.
  • Works in marketing/advertisement or an executive management position in a company with at least 2 employees.
  • Must perform one or multiple of the following tasks in their role: social media content creation/management, paid advertising, or digital marketing.
  • The company they work for must create video content and use one or more of the following platforms for video marketing purposes: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, or YouTube.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Tessa is a Content Analyst for GetApp, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.

Tessa is a Content Analyst for GetApp, delivering software-related insights to local SMEs. She was featured in the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Financial Post, and Yahoo.