Authentic Videos Work Better Than Ads

Authentic Videos Work Better Than Ads

Authentic Videos Work Better Than Ads

So this blog post explains why authentic videos work better than ads based on the latest trend data from Google.

Authentic Videos Work Better Than Ads

YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine.  Second only to Google.  And they’re part of the same company – Alphabet.  As a result, YouTube publishes the best trend data about videos and how they’re consumed via Think with Google

Importantly, YouTube has now identified a strong trend away from traditional ads featuring celebrities and showy product shots.  And it reports a related trend towards authentic, branded content featuring influencers and insights that ring true.

Subsequently, content featuring real people sharing truth is 4 times more effective than celebs or paid actors regurgitating lines written by clever ad execs.

And the same drop off in cut-through applies to generic video ads crafted from stock libraries.

So audiences are turning away from content that feels fake or generic in greater and greater numbers.

Why It Matters

So we now live in a world where even the news is too often fake.  Therefore, audiences and consumers are flocking to authentic content.

And time and again, brands and organizations come to me and ask.  So why isn’t my content working?  Besides I’ve invested in producing it.  Or.  Another thing is we’re using the latest software service.  And.  Most of all I’ve spent a small fortune advertising it.  But it’s not working.

So then I look at the content and the problem is evident.  Above all it screams advertising.   Because it’s too polished, or too corporate, or too generic.  In short, it feels fake, posed, or salesy.

And given the sheer amount of advertising targeted at us all on social media these days.  Likewise your online audiences may well feel like they’re navigating a market in Ho Chi Min City where even trader they pass screams “Buy Now!”

So increasing numbers of them just skip-on-by without a second glance.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is simple and effective.  Now we know for certain that authentic videos work better than ads.

So firstly, the solution is to stop making ads.  And to substitute them with authentic bite-sized content.

Secondly, swap expensive celebrities or paid actors for real-people.  Or influencers your audience already trusts.

Thirdly, try a production company that specializes in authentic content, rather than a shiny ad producer.

Finally, avoid generic stock imagery that could just as easily apply to any of your competitors. 

Instead, invest in producing a pool of your own authentic images and video that are unique to your offering.

There are some excellent software services available that can really speed up the workflow of producing short-form videos.   

The key to utilizing these services in your toolkit is to customize them to represent your brand.  And to make it feel tailored for your audiences.

Authentic Videos Work Better Than Ads But Should Still Look Great

Content that’s authentic doesn’t mean cheap or unprofessional.  But it does need to ring true.

And most importantly, authentic videos should give your audiences something useful.  Like insight, inspiration or incentive. 

Authentic videos give your audiences a reason to stop, listen, connect and respond. 

In conclusion, the trend data clearly shows us that this approach works way better than ads screaming “Buy now!” as your audiences virtually walk-on-by.

By Mike Hill, Founder & Filmmaker, Moonshine Agency.

Moonshine Agency is a production company that specializes in producing authentic films and videos.  Working with leading brands and organizations around the world, the company’s mission to move humanity forward by telling stories that matter.

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No problem, just take us up on our offer for a free consultation to discuss your concerns or ideas. We love to talk about ‘video’.

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Education Needs A Makeover

Education Needs A Makeover

Education Needs A Makeover

Discover why education needs a makeover in this blog by Mike Hill, producer of Innovation High.

Education Needs A Makeover

I’ve noticed when I say the words “education”, “teaching” and “learning” people fall asleep.  Not literally, but it has the same general impact.

Many of us, myself included, like to parrot pearls of wisdom like “Education is a passport to the future” (Malcolm X) and “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela).

But given the superficial interest we seem to show to education as a topic of conversation, these are platitudes at best.

What seems to interest most people outside the education sector, especially parents, are things like: prestige, price, uniforms and facilities.

Doesn’t this miss the point?  What is education actually for?

Maybe part of the solution is giving education a makeover, starting with some word-play. I’ll swap:

  • “Education” for “future-proofing”
  • “Teaching” for “coaching”, and
  • “Learning” for “mastery”

I want to future-proof my children in a rapidly changing world through expert coaching that provides mastery over the skills they’ll need to have a happy, meaningful, prosperous life.

Hmm, that might work better in getting their attention.

But wait, I also want that for myself. 

Why? Because it’s relevant to what I do and where I want to go.  It moves humanity forward.

And that’s what education for isn’t it – moving humanity forward.

One of the problems with how we view education is its hard-earned “old school” reputation.  In my opinion, this is not aided by the Hogwarty schools run by old boys where prestige, price, uniforms, and facilities, seems to get more airplay than future-proofing, coaching and mastery.

I’m fortunate enough to have seen many examples of innovation in my line of work as a filmmaker to know that cutting-edge education deserves more than a yawn or a snore.

In the upcoming series Futurists World I interviewed The Entourage founder Jack Delosa.  Jack’s a high-profile investor, one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and has been listed in the Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List.  Jack could do anything he wants but has turned his focus to education because he feels it is well-overdue for massive disruption.

In the original web series Innovation High about 21st Century Education, experts in the field echo Jack’s sentiments.  With the rapid move towards AI and automation, future-proofing is more important today than ever, and schools need to innovate and evolve fast to keep up.

Our work with groups like Learning Environments Australasia, Hayball Architecture and the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School demonstrates that great leaps forward are taking place right now and innovation is transforming outcomes for students.

So I think it’s high time education has a makeover and we should begin at the top with the Minister of Future-Proofing, leading the Department of Coaching & Mastery, committed to the Domestic Market Development of our Next Gen Tax Payers because “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” (Benjamin Franklin).

By Mike Hill, Founder & Filmmaker, Moonshine Agency


Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter

Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter

Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter

This blog is about Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter.

Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter

So Nelson Mandela reflected.  “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” 

Furthermore, Mandela’s great gift was to generate empathy, compassion, and empowerment.  This is also the goal of impact films.  So impact filmmaking is a communications specialization.  And it uses moving pictures to move audiences to action.

Lights, Camera, Social Action!

First of all, with their unique visceral power, films have the capacity to harness the mind and spirit better than any other medium.  As a result, Not-For-Profit organizations in Australia and abroad are increasing partnering in the production of films.  And these films are mostly produced in the documentary genre.

So one example is the Creative Partnerships award-winning production LIFE Before Death.  This multiplatform project incorporating a feature film, TV documentary, 50 short films, Video-On-Demand, DVD, iPad App, website and social media places.  Furthermore, the project was funded by a coalition of seven philanthropic foundations.  As well as two screen agencies and the Australian production company, Moonshine Agency.

Making an Impact

So LIFE Before Death, which advocates for better health care of patients in pain who need strong medicines and palliative care.  The film has publicly screened over 300 times in 40 countries and was subtitled into 15 languages.  And the TV doco has been broadcast in five countries and the short films have been viewed on YouTube over 1,300,000 times.

Furthermore, the initiative has informed and galvanized local, state, federal and international policy decisions through hosted screenings.  This includes at Parliament House Canberra, for a Senate inquiry into palliative care.  As a result, the project has helped to generate multiple six-figure donations.  And also to make the case for green-lighting major health initiatives, including a diagnostic cancer center in Zambia.

Selling the Sizzle with Impact Films

So when the hackneyed sales adage “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” was coined, fundraising and philanthropy were probably not top of mind.  However, in a cluttered communications landscape, it can be exceedingly difficult to stand out from the crowd and be heard.  This is particularly true if your core message relates to a tough social issue.

Therefore, by using screen stories to hook audiences by speaking the language of the heart as well as the head.  As also releasing them across entertainment platforms and via film events, NFPs can create their own unique sizzle.  So these projects build both cause and brand awareness in new and arousing ways that can dramatically expand the reach.  And also deepen levels of engagement with your supporters, new and old.

Beyond the Messaging

Subsequently, evolution is currently taking place where film-based communications strategies are evolving beyond the traditional form of public service announcements.   And these new forms rely on topical issues and in-depth character studies that engage audiences over an extended period.  By integrating calls-to-action, audiences to engage and take action.

So powerful stories, quality filmmaking, and interactive platforms comprise some of the key elements.  These are the core ingredients of all successful moving pictures advocacy projects.  Furthermore, the unique benefits of this approach are that it more readily creates the opportunity for both events and experiences.

As a result, films provide a focus for low-cost events such as hosted screenings, regional premieres, and conferences.  As well as educational workshops, festivals, and topical calendar activities or ‘days’.  Each of these occasions can be used to drive targeted advocacy, social action, and fundraising initiatives.

So well-told screen stories can also foster memorable experiences rivaling the deep engagement by sleeping rough or fasting for a good cause.  And once they’re produced, they can continue to facilitate these deep impressions for many years and at a very low cost.

Do you speak Story?

Importantly, the language you share with your audiences is not only lingual or intellectual but emotional.  And as psychologists well know, much of our behavior is driven by past and anticipated ‘felt’ experience, that is our emotional responses.  So well-told screen stories can engender, albeit vicariously, this deep personal connection.

Finally, at the center of a great story is character and plot.  So these two factors inform what approaches best serve your unique story and how those forms should be supported by a strategic communications plan.  And in our multi-screen world, moving pictures advocacy projects should never be limited to a single form or screen.  Subsequently, interactive technologies like mobile devices and social networks are particularly valuable in soliciting audience engagement.

Therefore, screen stories can take an infinite number of forms and there is no magic formula.  However, a clear project rationale and a considered communications strategy combined with a skilled filmmaker can deliver remarkable results.

And for those with more ambitious aspirations, unique incentives exist in Australia to encourage documentary film production.  The Producer Offset and Producer Equity programs, a Federal Government initiative, offer 20% and 40% refundable tax offsets .

7 Fundamentals of Film Advocacy 

1.  Define your Broad Goal.  So this world-changing ambition will guide every important decision you’ll need to make in shaping your moving pictures advocacy project.  Furthermore, if other organizations, groups, and activists share your goal, consider forming a coalition with them from the outset.

2.  Define your Objectives.  So a specific and measurable objective might be geared around awareness raising over a period of time.  Reach objective = project media impressions + TV ratings + public screening attendance + YouTube views + DVD/ Blu-Rays distributed + students reached through curricula/ library screenings + video-on-demand downloads.  And a fundraising objective might be measured by the total donations from hosted screenings + conversion tracked online donations + DVD sales, royalties and license fees.  Whereas a policy objective might measure its effectiveness by the number of decisions makers the project screened to, then anecdotally track the outcomes of those impressions.

3.  Know Thy Audience.  So a clear understanding of your target audiences, their readiness to engage with your story and their values is key.  Furthermore, these demographically targeted groups will inform your marketing efforts and help you move the decision makers who can make your broad goal a reality.

Impact Films What They Are and Why They Matter

4.  Manage your Message.  So spend the time to distill the theme that best frames your story, and then define your core message in simple terms.  As a result, these steps will help you determine whom and what your story should be about.

5.  Find your Forms.  So decide which platforms best serve your audience and objectives.  Furthermore, these may include touch points like a theatrical release, television, DVD, iTunes, Vimeo-On-Demand, YouTube, Apps, websites, social media places, and hosted screenings.

6.  Craft your Calls to Action.  So marry appropriate calls-to-action to each form.  As a result, these may include an invitation to learn more, discuss the issue, share the film, volunteer, petition, pledge support or make a donation.

7.  Build your Budget.  So based on all of the above steps draft your budget, then do a reality check.  Does your logic add up?  Is the project likely to achieve its objectives?  Does it warrant a green light?

Moving pictures advocacy is an emerging trend in Australia where, as with projects from abroad like Britdoc Impact Award-winning films The End of the Line and Budrus.  Furthermore, multi-platform productions have demonstrably moved audiences to action and have provided staggering returns on investment for their philanthropic partners.

Closer to home, it’s encouraging to see local NFPs like the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Common Ground Canberra spearheading film advocacy projects.  Subsequently, this is a trend that’s likely to continue over the coming years as film self-distribution channels become even more readily accessible.

As Mandela well knew, the heart wins over the head in every language.   And moving pictures are an incredibly effective way of tugging on the heartstrings.

About the Author

Mike Hill is the founder of Moonshine Agency, an Australian-based international company specializing in impact film production.  The company produces Academy-standard documentaries and factual programming for global audiences designed to shift consciousness and drive social change.  Through a combination of original and commissioned work, Moonshine Agency produces a suite of multi-award winning, globally relevant factual projects. 

Imagine a World without Words

Imagine a World without Words

Imagine a World without Words

This blog, Imagine a World without Words: Content 2.0 and Business Marketing by Mike Hill is also available as an audio podcast.

Imagine A World Without Words

As we steadily read less and watch much more, how do we prepare to market our businesses in a new visual age?

Forward-thinking businesses can make huge gains by preparing for Content 2.0 now.

The searchable Internet has largely been built on words – billions of them – designed to be ‘read’ as much by Googlebots as human audiences.

But the written word is a dying medium.

This house of cards will fall as information technology supersedes words in favour of more powerful visual communications assets of video, audio and images.

It’s important to note that while the written word is dying as a principle method of communication, the importance of literacy will take on a more important role as the hidden foundation stone of visual communications.

Most of us now lack both the time and the mental processing power to read more than a headline and summary before moving on.  That’s why the average stay on a single web page is just 10-20 seconds (Nielsen Norman Group).

Visual and audio technologies liberate us to absorb more information, faster and better, than reading words.

The reason for this is hardwired into us – reading and writing are not skills we’re born with, unlike seeing and hearing.

When we receive information through audio-visual mediums, our brains are innately designed to receive it, make sense of it and, if it’s deemed important enough, remember it – all at breathtaking speed.

Imagine a World without Words Podcast

by Mike Hill | Activating Audiences

The Future of the Written Word

Let’s start by thinking about where we do the most reading – from newspapers, books, on our computers and devices.

The decline of print newspapers over recent times has been dramatic and it sets a trend for all print media.

This foreshadows the start of the Paperless Revolution.

The current trend from books to audio books and film adaptations will continue to the point where the publishing of books in written form will be as novel (parden the pun) as printing an LP is for recording artists today.

Within a generation only a truly nostalgic and environmentally-irresponsible book worm will opt for the arduous option of thumbing through a paperback.

The same goes for all printed materials, especially marketing materials which will become both anti-social and unaffordable due to their disproportionate reliance on natural resources.

This not only means a shift to pixels, but a shift away from words on-screen. 

Reading on computers and mobile-devices is already unpopular, particularly for passages longer than headline and summary paragraph offering a clear value proposition.

The result – more and more visual communication reminiscent of the user experiences provided by today’s apps which are heavily reliant on explanatory videos, images, graphic design, icons and buttons to carry key messages.

Screens Everywhere

Computers and mobile devices themselves will take on a far broader definition.

As anyone with young children knows, the idea of a screen that isn’t a touch screen is now unimaginable for the next generation.

Screens will soon replace whiteboards, menus and even coffee-tables and refrigerator doors.

Our experiences will be enhanced as the smart screens that surround us will be dynamic, multi-lingual, interactive, and most importantly for our businesses, audio-visual.

Should we lament?

Would the great wordsmith William Shakespeare turn in his grave at the thought of this technology-induced word vacuum?

In my humble opinion no.  Shakespeare knew the real power of words was through human performance and I think he’d find our current abuse of the written word repugnant.

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here”

Business Marketing in a Brave New World

The eradication of the written word from our daily lives will be slow but steady. 

Consequently our visual cognitive abilities will be supercharged.

Savvy marketers and business owners are adapting to this new world order now.

The key is to stop looking at your content through the keystrokes of a word processing program and to think about your brand in terms of its key messages and stories.

While your starting point is likely to remain at your keyboard for some time to come, the final communications piece you produce will evolve like a caterpillar into a butterfly – a far more beautiful and memorable creation.

Your key messages will be worked into visual communications mediums such as banners, captioned-photos and infographics. 

Words will be used sparingly, allowing graphics and icons do as much of the communication as possible. 

Stories, the ancient tradition of human knowledge sharing, will be migrated from words to audio and video.

As they already are for experts and thought leaders, stories will become among the most important assets to all businesses.

So where do you start?

In short, think more visually.

Start with the wordy pages of your website and social media places and begin adapting them to more screen-friendly formats like videos and podcasts.

This simple exercise will take you far less time than it took you to write the original piece in the first place and breathe new life into your old content.

This is cheap and easy to do and early adopters will be rewarded with a huge boost in their visibility online.

Start with the wordy pages of your website and social media places and begin adapting them to more screen-friendly formats like videos and podcasts.

This simple exercise will take you far less time than it took you to write the original piece in the first place and breathe new life into your old content.

This is cheap and easy to do and early adopters will be rewarded with a huge boost in their visibility online.

5 Actions to Future Proof your Business

  1. Invest in quality video, design and photography.
  2. Add a video to every key information page on your website.
  3. Ensure your website is dynamic and mobile responsive.
  4. Take the time to optimise your videos and images with search-terms.
  5. Syndicate your visual communication assets across all your social media places.

If you’d like to find out more about how to ride the wave of the paperless revolution, reach out to us via www.Moonshine.Agency

Do you agree with me on this?  Let me know your thoughts on the dawn of the visual age!

Blog by Mike Hill, Founder Moonshine Agency

Why Videos are Good for Business – Top 5 Reasons

Why Videos are Good for Business – Top 5 Reasons

Business videos get a lot of hype from the converted, but do they really live up to their reputation?

Is video the king of content?

To answer this question, we need to compare the online communications options we have: written word, still images (photography), graphic design (infographics), audio (podcasts) and moving pictures (video).  

You may be thinking, “What about websites, apps and social media?”  I’ve excluded these platforms as they are the hubs for communication content, not content itself.

From an entertainment perspective, we all know that moving pictures – film, television and video – are streets ahead of all other mediums in terms of their popularity.  But where the communications revolution is taking place today, is that businesses of all sizes are now accessing the power of moving pictures.  This area – traditionally dominated by Hollywood, the television and advertising industries – is now accessible to us all.

So, here are my Top 5 reasons why videos are good for business.

1.  Our brains are visual

Going right back to basics we need to consider how the brain is wired.  

From our very first breath, when we open our eyes as newborns, our brain interprets the world visually.

The ability to hear and speak, comes next – this capacity is written into our genetic makeup – but it takes several years to fully develop.

Then comes reading – this is a learned skill – it doesn’t come naturally.  In fact, the evidence shows us it is a very under-developed skill.  Just 100 words make up around 50% of everything we read. 

And that’s why it’s said ‘a picture is worth a thousands words’, because the brain is designed to ‘read’ images, not the written word.

2.  Stories are how we connect

Audio and visual images – both still and moving – trump the written word because of how we’re built.  

So the question is, “What is the most powerful way to harness sight and sound?”

History provides the answer – stories.

Humans have been using stories to connect with one another and make sense of the world for millennia.  Indigenous Australian cave paintings reflecting Dreamtime stories stretch back as far as 40,000 years.

When we think about business today, there is also a resonance – behind every great business is a great story.

3.  Structured stories are more memorable

The Greek philosopher Aristotle put forth the idea that “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end”.  Shakespeare took this notion and ran with it, proving beyond any doubt that well-structured stories perform best for audiences.

His work provided the foundations of what we know know as the dramatic structure or dramatic arc – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

In my film and video production work, I see the same fundamental principles inform whether a video succeeds in holding an audience’s attention, and fails in its absence.

Modern-day humans are visual animals with a highly sophisticated understanding of story, so failing to structure a story to meet their expectations is fraught – do so at your own peril!

4.  Videos are the most engaging way of telling stories

Life Asked Death, "Why do people love you and hate me?" Death replied, "because you are a beautiful lie and I'm a painful truth".

We’ve narrowed the field down to audio and visual communications as being the best way to tell stories.

I feel the case for video is based on pure arithmetic.  It simply engages one extra sense than audio alone, adding vision is the difference.

Because our brains are so highly tuned to capture and process visual information, this gives video the edge.

That visual processing power can be harnessed to deliver massive amounts of information in a much shorter time. Visuals also have the benefit of being more memorable.

So let’s put this theory to the test…

Is it easier to understand and interpret an instruction on how to use a function on your computer by listening to a podcast or watching a short instructional video?


For most of us, the answer is video – because we can see what’s happening as well as hearing what we need to do.  And we remember the key image that relates to that learning more than the narration that accompanies it.

We also see this reflected in consumer behaviour research – we’re collectively reading and listening less, and watching much, much more.

The opportunities afforded to businesses to take advantage of this trend are immense.  The quality and quantity of original video content created for YouTube (the world’s second largest search engine), Facebook (the world largest social media network) and video-on-demand (the future of television) attests to this.

5.  Great stories move audiences to action

However, there is a catch…

I believe there is a big difference between passive and active consumption of moving images.

If we plant ourselves on the couch and let the images wash over us without moving us at all, we haven’t changed.

This is the television culture we grew up with… but the world is changing.

In fact, when we think about television, the bits that are most effective at moving us to action are actually the ads – they say ‘buy this’, ‘do that’, ‘drink up’, ‘bet down’ – and many of us respond.

Now the Internet – with its increasingly popular video services made or curated by us, and social media connecting us all – changes the equation yet again. 

Passive consumption of content is no longer the norm – we want to click, tweet, post, multi-screen and engage with the content we’re presented with.  As audience members, we expect to be activated, and failure to do so often leads to us disengage.

All of us are now empowered to inform, entertain, advertise and move audiences to action.

And from a business perspective, the opportunity is to be be at the leading edge of this communications revolution.

To learn more about how Stories Shape Our World please sign-up to our monthly newsletter Activating Audiences or visit 

Mike Hill on location in Myanmar with Yau Weng Wai for Life Asked Death, a documentary film about developing palliative acre in asia for the Asia Pacific Hospice Network

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