Redefining Production Value: How to Make the Most of Your Video Budget

Creative Producer
Published 3/14/22
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It’s a catch-22. DMOs and travel organizations across the globe have had their marketing budgets slashed in the face of the pandemic that brought the entire industry to a standstill. But as the world begins to rebound and travel returns, DMOs will need to market themselves more than ever to reconnect with travelers. The travel industry will have to spend more in advertising with a smaller budget. So when it comes to video, how do you get the most bang for your buck? How do you get the best production value?

What Exactly is Production Value?

Production value has traditionally meant how expensive your content looks. The more money spent on a commercial meant a better camera, better locations, better actors, you get the idea. More money = better quality. The difference between a $5,000 commercial and a $500,000 commercial was night and day, and while that is still true to an extent, advances in technology have shrunk the divide. Seriously, the price of a quality camera is a fraction of what it was a decade ago. In 2009, the hottest digital camera in the film industry was arguably the RED One which was a game changer in terms of digital cinema. That camera base started at around $50,000. In 2020, RED released their new Komodo camera base which shoots twice the resolution of the original RED One and has a starting price of around $6,000. To give you an idea of how far cameras have come in ten years, here is a RED One demo, and here is an example shot on the Komodo.


While the price of high-end footage is more affordable than ever, here’s another catch-22: younger audiences aren’t as deterred by lower production value as previous generations. Most millennials and Gen Z-ers spend more time on social media than watching TV, and most social media is shot with camera phones. They are as conditioned to watching videos shot on iPhones as Boomers were to watching black and white TV. It doesn’t have to look expensive to resonate with younger generations. Arguably the most effective advertisement of 2020 was the Ocean Spray Fleetwood Mac guy (seen here), and the fact that it was shot on a cell phone is completely irrelevant to the video’s effectiveness.


Rethinking Production Value

The travel industry is facing smaller budgets, higher needs for advertising to save their industry, and a smarter, more fragmented audience to reach. The value in production value has become more essential than ever, so here are some tips on how to make the most of your video budget for 2022.

1. Utilize unpaid methods of distribution.

Distribution was once the great gatekeeper. Only those who could afford it could have their message broadcast to the masses. Behold the power of the internet. A quick scroll through Facebook shows that everyone (including your overly political aunt) has a voice. Did you know that YouTube is the second most used search engine behind Google? Users are actively using YouTube to search for your destination. What content do they find? Think critically about how your organization can leverage free social channels like YouTube. Don’t underestimate social media, especially while your media budget might be low.

2. Plan for the small silent screen.

Of the hours users spend on the internet and social media browsing, the majority is done so via mobile. In fact, 80% of internet users across the globe are doing so on their phones. Also, of the users who watch video content on their phones, 60% do so with no audio. With this end distribution in mind, rethink how you approach your production budget. Perhaps that more expensive music track isn’t as imperative or renting that high-end 8K camera might be overkill when watched on a cell phone.

3. Focus on your target.

The countless amounts of content readily available to viewers means that audiences have become much more nuanced and niche. Get hyper specific on who you want to engage with. You no longer have to make an ad that addresses a broad audience. Work with your production company or content studio to design content that will attract the exact travelers you are looking for.

4. Consistency is key.

Remember that overly political aunt I mentioned? How often does she post? My guess is All. The. Time. She gets her message across through repetition and daily engagement. Sure, she could go off on one long diatribe and list her many grievances in one lengthy post (which she has done), but it’s the consistency that keeps her relevant. The same can be said for travel content and marketing. Lower budget microcontent distributed consistently can have a more sustainable impact than one giant expensive ad.

5. Be creative.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh why didn’t I think of that?” As a marketer, you must consider the amount of content your audience is taking in every day. The average social media user in the U.S. scrolls through nearly 300 feet of social feed a day. That’s the same height of the Statue of Liberty. And that’s daily! How do you cut through that tidal wave of competition? Rethink your traditional approach. Think outside the box and take some risks! There has never been a better time to be unconventional. Worst case scenario is your content gets little response and in a few days, it’s forgotten. But what if you take that risk and it pays off? You get that golden viral response everyone is looking for with views in the millions. Now is the time to be bold!

Production value is no longer just about having the most cutting-edge cameras or looking expensive. Production value is now about audience engagement. It’s about your content’s ability to grab and keep attention. I hope these tips help make your budgets go further and bring travelers back to your destination.