Are White Papers Dead?

We are in a golden age of information: data, numbers, facts, statistics. There is no shortage of scientific or research-based studies that have been birthed out of a desire to better understand our changing world and our evolving behaviors. For marketers, this presents a unique opportunity to help their audiences make sense of a particular topic and to position their organization as domain experts in a given field.

Cue the White Paper

For years, marketers have opted to aggregate their insights (regardless of the issue) into a comprehensive, often lengthy, white paper. For the uninitiated, a white paper is a data-centric document that combines expert knowledge and research in order to argue for specific solutions, make recommendations, or identify emerging trends. These documents have proven to be a powerful tool for lead generation and highlighting the internal expertise of a company. One challenge, however, has remained consistent for marketers; getting their audiences to download and engage with the contents of a white paper.

And here’s the catch: a white paper is a text-heavy business document that takes on a formal tone and is often a deep read. What are the chances that anyone, especially those outside of your business, will make the time and/or effort to be enlightened by the compelling findings of a white paper?  Marketers have made every effort to push their white papers through email campaigns, social media marketing, blog posts, and even press releases. Although these efforts have afforded many organizations some degree of success in the past, there’s a case to be made for an even more effective solution for both disseminating white papers, as well as making them more easily digestible.

Enter, Video

It’s no secret that in 2019, more people would rather watch or listen to content as opposed to reading it. Faced with this reality, transforming a marketer’s white paper into a thought-provoking video is a no-brainer. Translating a white paper into a video presents a solution that is attractive, can engage with audiences, and ensures that they walk away with invigoration and knowledge instead of eye strain and a headache.

The premise is straightforward – create a 2-to-4 minute video that highlights the key insights and takeaways of a white paper. No more, no less. By combining cinematic visuals, elevating music, and original scripting, you’ve now created a video that is compelling, informative, and breaks down the contents of a white paper in ways that audiences can appreciate. In taking this approach one step further, marketers can even strip their video down to easily shareable “social cuts” that quickly highlight one or two key insights from the white paper. Just imagine the ROI!

The fruits of this video labor, Cognizant’s “Gen Z” white paper turned video is displayed.

The key to the success of a white paper video is finding a partner that can accurately take your learnings and turn the (often) mundane into entertaining. Alongside Cognizant’s Media and Technology Team, DHD executed this very practice. In collaboration with the Center for Generational Kinetics, Cognizant commissioned an innovate study titled “Gen Z – The World by the Thumbs” that highlighted the media habits and behaviors of the ever-growing Gen Z market. From this white paper, nine different video assets were created, proving to be both turnkey and digestible. The goal was for the two comprehensive videos (3-4 minutes) to live on the website, and for the remaining 7 videos to be deployed across various social channels as organic sponsored posts in order to drive potential registrants to an upcoming webinar. The innovation of this crafty deployment caught on amongst consumers, and Cognizant declared the process a success.

Under the right hands, translating a white paper into video can be one of the most effective tools in a marketer’s arsenal for creating significant engagement across all channels. Just because your research and insights were born on paper does not mean that they have to stay there; there is a home for them in the exciting world of video, and they will be welcomed with open arms.