Higher Ed TV: Was Delaware, The Musical worth the time and budget spent on it?

June 9th, 2010 Karine Joly No Comments

As you’ve probably noticed, online videos are used more and more by universities and colleges trying to reach (and entertain) prospective students and their parents.
According to a report released last Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, The State of Online Video, 69% of online adults now watch videos online.

The use of musical videos is more recent and seems to have been inspired by a few very successful lipdubs as well as the phenomenal success of the TV show Glee. Yale’s video comes to mind, but it hasn’t been the only one.

I posted about Delaware, The Musical when it was still a project. Since my last post the video has been produced, published and very well received.
Delaware: The MUSICAL

Karlyn Morrissette gave more details on Eduguru about the video as she worked on the larger project with her company, Fire Engine RED.

A few weeks ago I interviewed via email Avi Amon, an admissions counselor at UD and the producer of the video about the kind of return the video had for the University of Delaware. His boss, Amy Greenwald-Foley, also helped address some of my questions. Since this interview was done, Avi published another video, the Making of Delaware, the Musical, that gives an idea of what happened behind the scene.

1) According to YouTube Insights for this video, it is more with young and less young female viewers? Do you know why?

My guess is simply because of the genre, and at the risk of sounding vain, the fact that Drew and I are younger, male professionals. I mean, look at his smile! Those stats also only cover registered YouTube visitors, so it doesn’t paint a complete picture.

2) Why have you close the comments?

I turned off the comments for a number of reasons. First, our Inbox was flooded and we simply could handle the load. The second reason (and this is something I picked up from Yale’s video) is to avoid abuse by Internet “trolls” just looking to be negative without a purpose. Yes, that’s a risk you take by putting something on the Internet, but we didn’t want this project, something that so many students/etc worked on for so long, to be tainted with that negative energy. We tracked “comments” through other venues, such as Facebook and Twitter. The response from students, alumni, etc, has been overwhelmingly positive.

3) In the first phase of this project, prospective students were asked to tell you what they wanted to see in this video? Can you give us a few examples of their suggestions that ended up in the video?

We were thrilled by the response from HS sophomores & juniors in our search tapes. Since no one had done this sort of thing before, we weren’t quite sure if anyone would respond and, if so, what they might suggest. Most wanted to see or hear something about traditions. Since so many of UD’s revolve around The Green, we knew that’s where the story would need finish. We also answered questions about the names of our colleges and the number of majors offered. Of course, every student who submitted a photograph of him- or herself, got a screen credit at the end of the video. And we have plans to produce a summer short on discovering UD, with Drew and myself answering many of the questions submitted by our search respondents. We won’t be able to show all requests — such as a man on the moon with a monkey — but we’ll try to honor many.

4) Now that this is done, do you have an idea of the return on investment of this video? Are the results worth the time and budget spent on this project?

Since we produced the entire video in-house, we were able to work with a more modest budget. It’s great when you have so much talent at your disposal! It’s simply not possible to quantify an exact return on investment but I can say this:

  • We garnered press in the The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Philadelphia NPR station, WHY, and several other news outlets and have surpassed 35,000 hits (Note from Karine: 41 029 at the time of this writing) on YouTube, so our circulation has been tremendous.
  • We purchased 50,000 fewer search names this year but have the same number of search respondents as last year.
  • Our visit numbers among prospective students and their families are now at a record high.
  • We brought together an entire University community — current students, administrators, faculty, alumni, and prospective students — in a way that has never been done before.
  • And, we learned many things producing this video. Lessons that we hope to carry forward with more videos and experiments in social media.

“Delaware the Musical” was absolutely worth our time and money.

The only things we had to pay for was camera and studio time with our own University Media Services — run by many of our own Alumni.

All the students (graphic design, actors, musicians, dancers, camera crews, etc), the choreographer (an alumna), my own orchestration and planning, the physical spaces we filmed in, were all volunteered or donated. If you include the time outside of work that was needed, the “cost” would be much higher, but this is something we wanted to do so I’m discounting it.