A very common online video strategy for big brands is to simply take pre-existing television commercial spots and load them up on the Internet.  You see it all the time.  And because television audiences and YouTube audiences don’t always run in the same circles, it can be a great way to get your message some extra exposure.

But how do repurposed television spots compare to videos that are created exclusively for the web?  Dynamic Logic decided to find out, with a study comparing the two kinds of video clips on several fronts.  And the conclusions might surprise you.

Says Chris Bian, a research analyst at Dynamic Logic:

“It was my thesis made-for-Web will be more effective than TV ads. In the end, I found it wasn’t necessarily the case that repurposed was inferior. Each had their own place.”

In terms of brand awareness, the repurposed television spots performed at the same level as the ads created specifically for the web.  That’s a little surprising, but not a complete shock.  I think I would have shared Bian’s hypothesis that tv commercials wouldn’t play quite as well online as made-for-web content.  But I would have been just as wrong, apparently.

But in terms of conversions—what Dynamic Logic calls “purchase intent/consideration,” which I guess is like “viewers who plan to convert”—original web content rules, beating out repurposed television ads handily.

Exposure also plays a role, they found, with repurposed ads having more effect on the viewer after four exposures.  Original web content, however, carries the most impact on the first viewing.

The research was split in two, and the repurposed TV ads portion involved 75,000 respondents and 59 ad campaigns.  That’s impressive to me.  Most studies of this sort stick to lower sampling pools of closer to 1,000 participants.

The section of the study on original web videos had an even larger pool of respondents—150,000 to be exact—and measured 135 campaigns.  (As an aside, anyone smarter than me want to venture a guess as to why they’d use a group that is twice the size of the first group?  That seems odd.)

So what do these findings tell us?  What conclusions can we draw?  Bian says it all depends on each brand’s need:

“It’s going to come down to evaluating that brand’s goals. Are they bent on getting people to notice the brand or have they penetrated the market and are looking to drive sales?”

I’ve mentioned it before, but you can never say it too many times:  know what your goals are before you even start creating your online videos. Any other approach equates to online video suicide.  Do you want to sell products?  Do you want to collect data? Do you just want to remain top-of-mind for your target audience?  Every possible online video goal requires a unique approach to content creation.  As Dynamic Logic’s research shows, you can succeed or fail just by choosing the wrong format for your company’s goals.