Consumption of online video is on the rise. In the U.S., the number of online video viewers has grown from around 55M in 2003 to nearly 140M in 2007, with projections of 160M by 2010. Okay, so video is on everyone's radar by now, but there's a lot more to the story than one might think.
While growth in online video may suggest that online entertainment is displacing TV consumption, the data says quite the opposite. In fact, in a 2007 Advertising.com video study, nearly 82 percent of survey participants answered "no" when asked if their video usage cut into the time they normally spend watching TV.
Even so, marketers are hedging their bets, embracing the accountability and measurability of online advertising and keeping a close eye on trends in TV viewing. Enter online video, the perfect intersection of television and online advertising.
The truth about video advertising
How the chips fall between TV and online video remains to be seen. Until then, making wise, strategic choices for your own marketing mix requires understanding exactly what video is, and isn't. First of all, it's not just teenagers uploading self-made clips. In fact, news is the most-watched video format, and video viewers are primarily between 25 and 44 years of age. Second, video is not just pre-roll. Other formats include mid-roll, in-banner, post-roll -- even new, clickable, out-of the box creative types -- with in-banner being the most widely supported by publishers. Third, video opportunities still aren't that easy to come by. Inventory remains limited and can be costly and complex to manage.
So, how can a forward-thinking advertiser make the most of their foray into online video advertising? How can you create a successful cross-media brand experience? And what are the best ways to ensure online video generates positive returns for your business?
Here are five great tips for online video marketers to keep in mind:
1.Keep it short: Why TV commercials won't work in online video.
A repurposed 30-second TV spot has no place in online's fast-paced, user-controlled environment. Most online video content is short form -- two to five minutes long -- and 30 seconds of advertising for two minutes of content does not work. In fact, according to Advertising.com's video study, 60.6 percent of consumers surveyed cited "shorter ads than TV" as the number one factor that would make video ads better. The data also show that completion rates for 15-second spots were better than 30-second spots.
2. Measure results: Why guess when you can be sure?
Measurability is one of the most valuable characteristics of the online medium, so be sure you're using it to its fullest potential.
Measure impact: Third-party research providers such as comScore Networks, Dynamic Logic and InsightExpress use surveys, sampling and other methodologies to measure lift in key brand metrics as a result of consumer exposure to online video. For example, in a 2006 study by Dynamic Logic and DoubleClick, in-banner and pre-roll video were found to be the best creative formats (at 4.5 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively) for increasing purchase intent. Studies like these can help you determine what formats are best for reaching your specific campaign objectives, so you can spend your ad dollars wisely.
Measure performance: Online, you can easily gather data on metrics such as percent of your video played, interaction rates, resulting site visits and in-store sales. A world of information is available to tell you exactly how your online video ads are influencing actual consumer behavior.
3. Content is king: More premium than premium sites.
While big brand-name sites do guarantee you a large audience, they can be costly when it comes to video, even on a per-viewer basis. More efficient are content-rich sites, where consumers are more receptive to relevant advertising.
Advertising.com's video study examined clickthrough rates for video ads by site content. While news and entertainment were the most viewed in terms of audience volume, more content-specific sites, such as gaming, careers and auto, had the highest CTR, at 87 percent, 67 percent and 64 percent, respectively. Those content-focused sites also showed nearly a threefold increase in end-plays. So, while big-name sites will get you a big audience, content-focused sites are likely to get you better bottom-line results-- at much lower costs. Balance your buys for optimal brand impact and performance.
4. Focus on consistency: Create a consistent yet medium-appropriate message.
Successful cross-media advertising requires some finesse. You must create an integrated and consistent campaign without simply duplicating the same ads across media. Each channel -- TV, online video, banner ads, even search -- has its own success factors.
5. Leverage a good network: Simpler in every way.
For all of its clear advantages and potential, video still has its drawbacks, namely:
- Limited inventory
- High costs
- Complex execution
These hurdles are exactly why many advertisers choose a few large sites and then look to ad networks to complete their buys. Networks aggregate video inventory from multiple websites, providing advertisers with incremental reach across quality properties. And because networks gather inventory from multiple channels, they are often priced more competitively than single-site buys.
Perhaps most appealing, using a network takes the complexity and headaches out of the video advertising process. From ad specifications to ad serving to reporting, everything is centralized and standardized through one point of contact. The time savings alone can be huge.
Online video advertising, despite its challenges, affords marketers the emotional impact of TV with the accountability and interactivity of the internet, incredibly valuable assets for any marketer.
Nevertheless, smart advertisers should consider online and broadcast as complementary, not mutually exclusive, advertising tools. It is unlikely that online video will completely usurp TV any time soon, especially because all media technologies are continuing to evolve, as are consumer behaviors.
So, use good sense in designing your online campaigns by following these five ground rules. Maintain an intelligent mix of media. And keep your eyes on the horizon.
As vice president of Advertising.com’s video network, Aimee Irwin is responsible for strategic publisher initiatives for the company’s video product, including the ongoing growth and development of its publisher base. Read full bio.