Why the size of a client SHOULDN’T affect a VO cost

by Leigh on November 15, 2017

Every so often I will hear voiceover artists say to me ‘I love your system but it is too prescriptive, there should be more flexibility with cost.’. When I ask why they say well, if a big client like say, Microsoft, books an online voice, the price should be different to a small local firm. It’s an understandable point of view and one that I can totally get but it goes against everything we stand for at VoxXpress.

Let me explain why. One of our USPs at VoxXpress is that our pricing is totally transparent. Once you have selected the correct project type from the drop down menu on either the home page or the search page, the price displayed is the price you pay. That’s it. Too many times as a video producer I have enquired about a voiceover and have been asked questions like ‘What’s you budget?’ and ‘Who’s the client?’. These questions should be irrelevant. If you go into a supermarket and want to buy a can of beans, when you go to pay, the assistant doesn’t ask you how much you were expecting to pay or how much money do you have in the bank. It is our philosophy that there is no reason why buying a voiceover shouldn’t be the same.

Shopping-trolley 2

We think buying a voiceover should be like buying a can of beans.

However, and this is a big however! If you go to the supermarket and you buy a catering size tin of beans you should pay more than someone who buys just one small can. The price should be related to usage, not how deep your pockets are.

I have done many online videos for big name blue chips that had views in the hundreds, likewise I’ve also produced videos for small one man bands that have had hundreds of thousands of views. In short the client’s size doesn’t define the size of the audience. Agreed, sometimes there is some correlation but it’s not a hard and fast rule and it’s certainly not the best way to measure it. Indeed when I spoke to Equity recently about this, their response was:

“Who the client is will be less important than how big the campaign is and the latter is what should determine the fee level. That having been said, the bigger companies usually do the bigger campaigns.”

Funny enough I have been told by colleagues that there are circumstances where big companies will try and use their size to actually knock down prices. Well we don’t stand for that either!

So, what is the solution? 99% of online projects reach views in the hundreds to hundreds of thousands but some videos hit the millions and it’s fair enough if a project hits that many viewers, the fee should reflect that. After a conversation about this with one of our artists recently, I came away thinking I don’t agree with the ‘company defines the fee’ idea but I do agree with ‘if a video is destined for multiple millions, the fee should reflect that’.

On consultation with Equity, as I suspected, there is no official guidance on online usage but what they did say is you can use the TVR model as a guide. TVRs are a way of measuring television audience and used to calculate television advertising voiceover rates.

So that’s what we’ve done. Our basic online project type now is the equivalent of 3 TVRs. That gets you 1.5 million views which is more than most videos will ever reach. But if you are the Wix.com of this world and hitting multiple millions of views – partly by paid plays – you fall into the higher categories. We’re hopeful this will also mean our artists won’t inflate their basic online rates to cover the occasional big campaign because they now know if there are more than 1.5 million views, the project falls into a different project type.

And the great thing about online video is – turns out you can measure views really easily! Just look at some videos on Youtube and you’ll see exactly how many people have watched them!

Hopefully everyone – artists and clients alike- will feel this is a fair model and it will finally put pay to the ‘client defines the fee’ conversation.

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