This is the year that online video advertising will finally reach its potential. From being mostly a sidelined player, it will become a leader on the virtual court of online advertising.
Skeptical? I can't blame you. That's because the industry has been saying that every year since about 2007. And, while arguably things are falling into place, it remains clear from the average online video experience that the medium needs a lot more time in the weight room. The typical pre-roll is still a flat remake of its broadcast version. Online users are tired of being brainwashed with the same pre-roll over and over again. And advertisers are tired of working so hard to aggregate eyeballs -- thus focusing on the same handful of publishers and leaving a whole lot of audience on the table.
So, I'll rephrase: This is the year that online video advertising could finally reach its potential.
For that to happen, online video needs a push off the bench. Online marketers must raise the level of their game by adopting best practices that exploit everything that video has to offer. And here's how:
Work the crowd
As a first step, allow time to plan. Video audiences are highly scattered, and the big mainstream publishers are expensive, making it worth the time and research to seek out additional audience sources. Private ad exchanges, premium marketplaces, and premium audience networks can not only expand the reach of your campaign, but also reduce the cost per unique user.
End the debate
As for measurement, it's time to just go with GRP and end the debate around it. Sure, GRP may not be perfect, but let's be pragmatic. GRP is the best available metric at the moment for determining audience reach. Instead of endlessly debating about the perfect reach metric, we should accept GRP as a starting point and improve it over time, until it fits the unique characteristics of the online space. There are already GRP solutions out there that we can leverage, such as Nielsen OCR and comScore vGRP.
Make it engaging
Let's be clear. We need to do better than simple repurposed TV ads.
There are so many ways to make video more engaging and relevant, thus there is no excuse to bore your audience. Adding interactivity, letting the user choose the ad, deploying intriguing site features, and leveraging the content around the ad to make it more rewarding are all ways to provide that little extra oomph that will get a user to engage. Research by MediaMind showed that online users are 200 percent more likely to engage with an interactive in-stream ad than with an interactive banner. Similarly, improving relevancy can dramatically improve the user experience and campaign performance, which brings us back to the repurposed TV ad and that repetitive mid-roll.
Make it relevant
Instead of repeating the same mid-roll, increase relevancy by utilizing dynamic creative optimization to tailor components of your video assets based on location, user's interaction, demographics, or other factors.
Localizing your video can be as simple as changing the creative based on the user's geographic location and language. Even better: Your ad message can leverage the user's past interaction and follow them through the purchase funnel. For example, your message can at first address your product features, then offer a trial, and then provide the local store's location or an online price promotion -- all based on the user's interaction with the previous ad.
Keep it fresh
Mixing up your creative to keep your ads fresh can be a powerful weapon against tune-out, especially if you integrate it with the rest of the online campaign and sequence your message.First and foremost, apply frequency capping. Then, start sequencing the message. For example, you can start off with a high impact pre-roll unit to create awareness, and then follow up with an interactive mid-roll to engage the user. Once the user navigates away to other pages or sites, you can retarget them with interactive rich media in-banner to allow the user to learn more about the brand or product, and then drive it home with display to elicit brand recall or a specific action. Sequencing your story provides a balance of frequency and freshness that is more rewarding for your audience, drives better performance, and reduces costs, versus running the same video ad over and over.
Manage, track, and analyze
Perhaps you're thinking that this theoretical best-practice video campaign, with all its exchange-traded, GRP-measured, multi-formatted, interactive, dynamically optimized, purchase-funneled, multi-channeled bells and whistles must be a big headache. Well, not necessarily.
Managing these kinds of campaigns can be very scalable these days, and you can use a single ad server for the entire campaign. In fact, your entire campaign across online video, mobile video ads, connected TV, and rich media can be housed, managed, tracked, and analyzed in one place, making measurement, attribution, and optimization faster and easier. In addition, you can have real time data and feedback about your campaign, so you can make changes quickly. And, you can make cross channel apples-to-apples comparisons across your entire media mix.
Online video is here -- and its potential is very, very real. Take small steps, take time to plan, and take advantage of the innovations out there not only to delight your audience, but also to get better results. Put these best practices in place and video will deliver on its promise in your next campaign. Game on!
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