Moving Picture Magic (1 of 3)

Head of Research and Insights
Published 8/6/18
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Introduction to Video Analysis & First 5 of the Top 10 Online Videos from DMOs

This blog is part of the three blog series, "Moving Picture Magic - Top 10 Performing Online Videos from Destination Marketing Organizations Around the Globe".
Blog 2: 
Top Performing Online Videos from DMOs, Videos #6-10
Blog 3: 8 Key Themes of Top Performing Videos from DMOs

Online video has emerged as a critical type of travel content- especially at the all-important dreaming and inspiration stage of trip planning.  Around one quarter of US leisure travelers indicate using online video in their trip planning process over the last 12 months (Source: The State of the American Traveler, April 2018). Online video can be especially influential in travelers’ destination decision. As part of our ongoing review of destination marketing best practices, we sought to benchmark and assessed top performing online videos from Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across the world – videos that generate viral appeal, organic reach and engagement. 

Miles worked with researchers at the Tourism Program of the University of Waikato in New Zealand (led by Professor Chris Ryan) to analyze online videos posted on YouTube by over 150 DMOs in over 25 countries. Videos from all 50 state tourism organizations in the US, and more than 100 other CVBs and National, Regional Tourism Organizations in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and in Asia were analyzed. 

This analysis was built on a similar project back in 2015 that looked at a similar, slightly smaller group of 125 DMOs and their online video performance on YouTube.  The analysis showed that since mid-2015, the online videos for the same set of 125 DMOs has seen a more than 4-fold increase in views – from 918 million to over 3 billion. Subscribers to these destination’s YouTube channels had grown a more modest three-fold.

While media budgets will have boosted the online audience of many of these videos, we excluded clear advertisements (e.g.: those 15, 30 or 60 seconds in length) attempting to identify 10 DMO online videos that demonstrate strong storytelling, richer information and greater organic reach. Here is our list, with commentary, of the first 5 of 10 top performing DMO “informational” videos we identified from this analysis (video views as at July 30th, 2018).


#1 Welcome to Iceland Academy

DMO: Promote Iceland


Published February 25, 2016

Inspired by Iceland are global leaders in both educating and marketing to visitors. Their “Iceland Academy” videos and related online content are fun, quirky and informative. With solid production values and visually engaging, Promote Iceland brings a distinctive and authentically Icelandic feel to all their video content starting with their hosts and talent. A rarity amongst DMOs, they use humor that works and is not afraid of being slightly “edgy”.  Another fun example: their “Human Search Engine” video.


#2 The Amazing Northern Lights

DMO: Visit Finland


Published September 22, 2011

This is Visit Finland’s top performing video – a short but stunning tour of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).  The video combines lush visuals and perfectly selected music – which builds with the video to a sensory crescendo. The video is beautifully integrated into deep, immersive and practical content on the Northern Lights on Visit Finland’s website. As demonstrated by Iceland (see video #1) and Sweden (see their innovative Airbnb campaign and recent Sill & Potato (Food) video on YouTube), Finland shows Scandinavian destinations are the leaders in online video storytelling and related website content.


#3 Swim with Manatees in Crystal River



Published March 01, 2017

Lyrical, beautifully shot and concise – a highly popular video that moved towards the top of VISIT FLORIDA’s most popular YouTube video ever in just its few months in 2017.  With no presenter, narration and effective use of subtitles means this video, with international appeal, can be quickly adapted to other languages. The video displays engaging but simple music, use of natural sound and offers practical travel and location information at the end.


#4 California Dreamer: Comic-Con

DMO: Visit California

2,154,672 million views*

Published May 06, 2017

This video from Visit California ticks all the boxes in the choice of subject, production value and storytelling.  It is about a pop culture phenomenon, Comic-Con.  “California Dreamers” is far more than a parade of comic enthusiasts. The video features aspiring artists who come to Comic-Con to meet and hopefully fulfill their dreams of working in the industry.  The video powerfully connects California to its brand: dreaming.


#5 James Cameron’s New Zealand

DMO: Tourism New Zealand


Published July 12, 2016

Most of Tourism New Zealand’s considerable video traffic is driven from posting/advertising long format 1 or 2 minute versions of its TV ads, see an example here. The James Cameron video series (another version here), is storyteller driven, a first person account of “falling in love” with a new country. It also has nice use of map graphics, linking the video to content on the website. This type of testimonial-driven video is a compelling format if the subject is recognizable, highly engaging and most importantly, authentic.


*Number of views are as of July 31, 2018.