Online video is entering its golden age.

    The increase in bandwidth, the decrease in cost for that bandwidth, and the negligible costs of hosting streaming online video means that they are increasingly coming into their own. Digital marketing campaigns now regularly use online video to promote products and services whether hosted on the company server or uploaded to major online video sites like YouTube, or both.

    In a digital marketing campaign, the online video can either be native – that is, created for the online platform specifically and perhaps even exclusively – or it can be the same video footage that is used in traditional media (for example, a television advertisement or movie trailer). The low-cost of uploading and hosting online video and the freedom to expand beyond the 30-second or 1-minute constraints of a television spot make online video an attractive option for companies wanting to reach out, amuse, entertain, and inform their audience.

    This freedom from time restraints coupled with the cost advantages of working online compared to working with film or in a television-ready formats allows the content creators to let their creativity shine, opening up options that could never be considered outside of the digital domain.

    Like, for example, producing 280 different 30-second advertisements, launching a television channel, and all in the service of a single, limited-time-only hamburger from the Golden Arches.

    Here are three things that McDonald’s can teach other digital marketers with their 280 burger online video campaign.

    Online Video Lets You Think Big


    Making a 30-second television commercial is a huge endeavor. You have to master the pitch, communicate the key points in the campaign brief, and do it all in an entertaining and engaging way so as to keep the eyeballs of viewers trained on the screen. Good TV ads are common, as are bad TV ads, and great ones are few and far between.

    Creative minds can sometimes appreciate the constraints of the television commercial as it forces them to sharpen their marketing, and fit in the narrow window of time that is the 30-second slot.

    But with online video, creative can think bigger, and producers can be set free to explore the possibilities that exist when barriers are removed.

    Hence, McDonald’s is able to mount not one, not two, not ten, but 280 different 30-second advertisements in promoting their 280 burger. Some are funny, some are cute, some are serious, and some are – frankly – a little weird and inside-jokey (full disclosure: I’m an expat Australian living in France and even after 10 years there are still a bunch of inside jokes that only French people fully understand).

    McDonald’s has gone big, even gone huge, with it’s 280 advertisements for this one burger, and online video empowers this in a way that the limits of a television advertisement and the costs of producing and airing 280 different commercials restrict.

    Online Video Lets You Think Out of the Box


    If you are producing an advertisement for television or traditional video media then you have a constraint that seems almost too obvious to mention: you have to present and screen your advertisement on a channel you don’t own.

    Makes sense, right? McDonald’s business is burgers, and NBC’s business is television. If you want to advertise your burgers, you make an advertisement and NBC will screen it for you.

    But this is a very traditional paradigm and only applies to traditional approaches to video. Online, everything is different.

    McDonald’s not only produced 280 commercials for their burger, they also built their own online television network:

    Like a regular TV, you can skip over any of the 280 channels that McDonald’s has launched (each showing a loop of a different 280 burger advertisement, of course), surf from channel 52 to 53 to 54, or pull up a grid of all of the channels and choose your favorite.

    In other words, online video has empowered McDonald’s to produce hundreds of different commercials as well as hundreds of different television-style channels to screen them on, and an entire television network hosting all of these channels.

    Online video has enabled McDonald’s to think well outside of the box in terms of what they can create. Not only have they left the constraints of the television network behind, they’ve built their own network!

    Online Video Lets You Promote Effective Action


    You’ve likely seen a television commercial that urges you to visit a website, retweet with a hashtag, or connect with the brand on Facebook. To some extent these efforts can be successful, but they count on a couple, of things working exactly the way that the brand expects.

    First, they need the audience member to act fast – the recall is only going to decrease as the time between the advertisement and the action increases.

    Second, they need the audience member to remember something that wasn’t important to them a few seconds before – for all the work that you put into your hashtag, if it isn’t memorable to the audience there’ll be little engagement.

    Online video is different in that it can be connected like any other digital marketing element to the wider campaign by use of a hyperlink. The audience member is already seated at their computer or has their smartphone playing the video in their hand so any call to action (retweet this, share this, tap to enter) is far more likely to be executed.

    When the ‘cost’ of sharing an entertaining or informative online video is simply a few clicks of a mouse or a few taps of a smartphone screen then the chance of growing the audience for the video is much increased.

    Just compare how hard is it to remember the details of a television commercial and recount them to a friend, and how hard is it to hit ‘Share this video on Facebook’. The online video wins every time.


    McDonald’s has used the power and potential of online video to incredibly good effect in its 280 burger campaign. Not only have they broken out of the constraints of a traditional television campaign by moving online, they have busted through the barriers that limit creativity (time limits, cost, synchronicity with an audience, network constraints) and engaged with consumers in a brand new and exciting way.

    So: anyone up for a trip to Mickey D’s?

    How has your brand or business experimented with online video? Any notable successes? Let us know in comments below or on Twitter!


    Leave A Reply