Medium vs Message: Drone Aerial Media Quality or the Lack Thereof

A few weeks ago I sat in the doctors office waiting for an appointment, on the wall was a LCD display showing information and ads of local businesses. One ad caught my eye as it featured aerial imagery of a golf course obviously shot with a drone.  What really stood out however was not the golf course itself but the poor quality of the aerials – jello, unlevel horizon, jerky camera movements, fisheye, and general amateurish look to it all.  The video didn’t so much highlight the golf course as it made obvious the use of a drone, which in the end is not the message I suspect they wanted to send to potential customers.

With the rapid growth of drones that are easy to fly by almost anyone we are also seeing the rapid increase in the adoption of aerial imagery in to advertising campaigns.  These systems now put aerial media within the budget of almost any business allowing them to give unique new views of their properties, projects, services.

While it may seem the “cool” thing to do to add any sort of aerial footage to your marketing campaign, the fad phase is quickly coming to an end.  With so much drone based media out there it has less of the “wow factor” it did a year or even a few months ago.  In that early phase the medium became the message and the use of a drone alone would attract attention and eyeballs.

As things evolve however the focus is less on the tool and more on the resulting imagery that it creates; as such the quality of the footage is becoming increasingly critical. It needs to highlight the product/project/brand and not the device itself.  Potential customers aren’t looking to buy a drone from most businesses, they are looking at the products and services themselves and that needs to be the focus of the resulting use of the drone footage.  If the footage looks unprofessional then so will the product or service you are trying to promote.

Much like the early days of website development when anyone that new some HTML became a “web developer” so to has been the case with drones, with hundreds of  aerial businesses popping up from everyone that owns a DJI Phantom or similar systems and overnight becomes an “aerial video professional”.  As with any profession owning the tools does not make one a skilled professional in using them.

Companies looking for aerial footage need to choose wisely.  Most people would probably not choose a doctor or dentist based on who is the cheapest despite their experience and credentials, the same applies to services like aerial imagery.  You get what you pay for in the end in most cases. The quick cheap route may end up producing footage that negatively impacts the brand and overall image.

Throw in the fact that many of the cut rate providers may also be operating illegally and a company could potentially end up with liability issues if something were to go wrong doing an aerial shoot.

The same applies for companies that buy their own drone thinking its the cheaper and easier route to take.  Being proficient and producing high quality footage takes skill and experience, it is not simply a matter of buying the tool, you need to know how to use it effectively, efficiently, safely, and legally. (See our article on Inhouse vs Outsourcing)

As the use of drones grows we will see more and more aerial imagery making it into the mainstream of many company’s marketing plans,  those that use it effectively will be the biggest winners,  those that use it poorly could tarnish their brand.

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