B-to-b publishers have been downright inert about coming to grips with video. Nearly a century after Philo T Farnsworth broadcast his first electronic television signals, many b-to-b publishers are at best paying lip service to its marketing powers, with a few token videos on their sites, and perhaps a YouTube channel. 

And who can blame them? Evaluating the ROI of a video investment is challenging. Video can be painful to integrate into website and editorial workflows. It doesn’t necessarily produce compelling metrics in the traditional sense (i.e., pageviews), and decent analytics are often divorced from standard site analytics, or worse, non-existent.

That’s about to change. 

New and enhanced platforms and player technologies designed specifically for b-to-b are gaining traction, giving marketers tools to better promote products and services within video content, and integrating with CRM and marketing automation systems to help optimize conversions. 

The trends driving video’s growth among b-to-b marketers are compelling, and publishers would do well to take note. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 B2B Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, video content is now used by 70 percent of b-to-b marketers, up from 52 percent in 2011. And 58 percent of b-to-b marketers view video as an effective marketing tool, comparable with their opinions on such b-to-b publishing staples as blogs, e-newsletters, research reports, and white-papers. 

While many b-to-b marketers utilize YouTube for hosting and promoting videos  (as well as placing them on their own sites), YouTube is primarily a community-building and branding platform, and virtually useless for anything related to lead generation and conversion.

That’s where new platforms can give b-to-b publishers an edge. At GreenBiz Group, we’ve been testing out two of these platforms: Vidyard and Wistia. Both provide video marketing platforms, along with tools to manage, measure and optimize video content. In addition to standard ad serving technology, Vidyard integrates usage data with leading marketing automation platforms, including Eloqua, Marketo, and Hubspot. Wistia provides similar capabilities for Pardot (Sales Force), Hubspot, Mailchimp, and Constant Contact.

Now instead of just providing general play stats or ad impressions, we can report audience and lead-gen data to sponsors on who watched their video, for how long, and on which site and pages for videos embedded in other sites.

And for videos that promote our own events and products, we can use these same detailed viewing statistics to identify prospects for our own programs, and trigger drip marketing and sales campaigns via our marketing automation application.

As audiences continue to migrate towards mobile devices, video as a preferred form of content is growing at a disproportionate rate. For our own sites at GreenBiz, nearly 50 percent of all our video consumption currently takes place on mobile devices. As our mobile audience continues to grow, video will inevitably play a larger role in our content creation and distribution.

With new technology enabling publishers to take better track and monetize their video audience, b-to-b publishers may have finally found a reason to tune-in.

Hugh Byrne is SVP of Product and Audience Development for GreenBiz Group.  Find him on Twitter at @greenbiztweets.