One of my favorite scenes in “Jerry Maguire” is when Tom Cruise’s character awakens in the middle of the night with an epiphany that would eventually birth his famed Mission Statement for a new kind of sports management agency.
In “The Things We Think And Do Not Say,” Jerry furiously types into the night, laying out a stream of consciousness-style vision for the future of the business that revolves around quality, not quantity. “More honesty, more focus, fewer clients, but eventually the revenues will be the same,” he writes.
Video advertising expenditures have grown 67 percent since 2015 with no signs of slowing down. Publishers are creating more content than ever before and racing to find ways to monetize audiences around what’s proven to be the most emotive and engaging content format for most demographics.
The response from consumers? A growing distaste for online advertising and the rise of ad-blockers. In a recent survey more than 60 percent of consumers said they abandon online video due to the inundation of ads within the experience. Per an IAB study, 25 percent of desktop users and 15 percent of mobile users employ ad-blocking technology to avoid ads.
Less is more
The result of this growth has been an inundation of video content—and, subsequently, video inventory and ads—across every corner of the web. Currently, the state of video advertising seems dominated by a “more is more” mentality. More inventory means more opportunities to reach people, which means more impact, right? Not necessarily. Thinking back to the events leading up to Jerry’s epic meltdown, there is danger in sacrificing focus and a customer-first mindset in the name of scale.
Platforms should focus on user experience first and foremost, as creating an uncluttered and premium user environment will benefit advertisers in the long term. By decreasing ad pressure rates and developing a UI that optimizes around cleaner, more focused viewing experiences, platforms can increase audience engagement and establish a more brand-friendly environment for advertisers.
Focus on the user mindset
As Jerry sulks out of his office on the day of his termination, fists clenched, he begins to build a new venture around the singular focus of incredible client service. In our space, this focus is most similar to user experience—and in the context of what advertisers care about, the user mindset. Let’s unpack why the user mindset matters so much when it comes to video.
Consider two people, A and B, with the same demographic, same household income, same propensity to gravitate toward a specific product or brand. Both A and B receive the very same piece of in-stream advertising within the same piece of content. Theoretically, these two individuals should be weighted equally by the advertiser. But is this the complete picture?
Consider the mindset of A, who has reached this particular piece of content through a direct search (a “lean in” consumption experience), as compared to the mindset of B, who has reached the content through a more “lean back” experience. In this example, perhaps it’s the case that person B is in a more open mindset for exploring content, and is thus more open and engaged during advertising experiences.
Show me the money (in X years)
This gets us to the question of “lifetime value” as a metric in online video, which—of course—is exceptionally challenging for advertisers to calculate. Lifetime value is a powerful marketing metric across other channels, but video advertisers are left in the dark when it comes to how their investment will be returned down the line.
Absent the data points needed to assess this metric, marketers can find ways to approximate which audiences are most apt to have a higher lifetime value. One signal to consider is a positive user mindset: how audiences are experiencing a video ecosystem and what types of behaviors are they exhibiting there. Are they open to exploring and discovering new content, or are they in a “closed off,” or singularly-focused headspace in which they are specifically looking for a specific type of content?
(Spoiler alert: Returning to our “Jerry Maguire” metaphor, while losing the number one pick on the eve of the draft was a deafening blow to Jerry, his long-term investment in a partnership with Rod Tidwell proved out pretty nicely for him in the end.)
A third of brand and agency marketers have indicated that they want more premium video content to place their ad dollars against—a stat that should come as no surprise to any of us. While content quality and brand safety continue to be critically important, marketers should think like our friend Jerry and remember that mindset matters, too.
The ways in which audiences are groomed to experience video content (editorial and advertising alike), and the types of behaviors they exhibit within a platform experience can be the difference between moving the needle for your business and wasting spend on someone who is not primed for your messaging.