​The recent craze for Harlem Shake clips shows brands have video marketing opportunities beyond paid ads to reach web audiences.

Demand for video content is at an all-time high, with Brafton reporting that total video views in the United States increased by 23 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2012. The uptick mirrored 47 percent growth in visual ad volume over the same time frame, which shows that companies see consumers’ hunger for video content as a marketing opportunity.

Video marketing can be approached in a variety of ways, as indicated by the Harlem Shake trend and a recent FreeWheel survey. More than 60 advertising agencies rode the wave of the viral dancing clip, producing and uploading their own versions. While the trend may not be commercially relevant to every brand, it demonstrates the shift toward entertaining video marketing.

The FreeWheel study, as reported by Brafton, discovered entertaining clips longer than 20 minutes feature an average of nine ads. Consumers watch for entertainment and view the related ads, with 93 percent of long-form video content viewed to completion in Q4 2012. As for mid-form and short-form visual clips, 81 percent and 68 percent, respectively, were watched in their entirety. Whether creating video ads or organic clips, companies shouldn’t hesitate to produce and publish media that entertains more than it sells.

Long-form videos generate interest.The higher completion rates show that internet users have grown used to pre-roll ad clips, and that consumers will wait for these ads to finish if the subsequent content offers worthwhile value. Even playful YouTube clips come with ads, and users continue to navigate to the video-streaming center in droves. Consumers know they cannot avoid promotional video content.

Brands that produce high-quality and entertaining media will still see engagement, whether video content promotes products or showcases the companies’ personalities. The latest Harlem Shake clips generate significant views and, while they don’t sell any product or service, these videos give viewers insight into the culture and personality of the sponsoring brands. Perhaps no direct transactions will come from an agency’s funny dance moves, but referral traffic and positive brand recognition might prove worthwhile.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.